Sunday, January 3, 2010

Carvin Guitars - Lowell Kiesel

Lowell Kiesel 1915 to 2009
Lowell Kiesel passed away a few days after Christmas this year at 94 plus years of age. For the unacquainted, Mr. Kiesel is the founder of Carvin guitars.

In the 1930’s when Kiesel was in his teens he developed an interest in music; especially in playing Hawaiian steel guitar music. He was very interested in all guitars that were played with a steel, be they flat top, resonator or the newly developed electric steel guitar.

During WWII Kiesel took a job with North American Aviation in Los Angeles. In 1946 he left that job to move back to his home state of Nebraska. It was there he started the L.C. Kiesel Company and began winding guitar pickup coils on his wife’s sewing machine. Kiesel sold his pickups through a distributor.

By 1949 he and his wife moved back to Southern California and had begun to create guitars and build amplifiers. Kiesel made a bold business decision to sell straight to the customer by cutting out the wholesaler and retailer.

This way he kept the prices low on his products; a practice that continues to this day.

He changed the company name to reflect the names of his sons, Carson and Gavin. So the company became Carvin. Kiesel advertised in some magazines, but his main form of advertisement has always been the catalogue.

In fact the advertisements in guitar related magazines to the reader to send in for a free catalog.

I can recall receiving a very primative Carvin catalogue printed on standard white paper with black and white photos. This must have been in the mid 1960’s when I got bit by the guitar bug. The catalog was full of unusual electric guitars, basses, steel guitars and amplifiers.

I’ll say without criticism, some of the early Carvin instruments looked almost handmade; not at all the quality finish of Fender or Gibson guitar. However they were unique.

From the early days up through the early 1970’s Carvin did not manufacture their own guitar or bass necks. These were imported from Hohner.

In addition to their own factory made guitars, steel guitars, electric mandolins and basses Carvin sold accordions and was a distributor for Martin guitars.

This arrangement lasted from the 1950’s through the end of the 1960’s.

Decades later Carvin is still going strong and has beefed up their product line to include professional sound systems and extremely high quality guitars and amplifiers.

Carvin guitars and amps are a bargain. Due to improvements in woodworking, such as CNC machines and modern electronic parts, Carvin products are far superior to a lot of electric guitars on the market.

And so are their amplifiers. I say this as a user of Carvin products.

Carvin pickups are amazing and well balanced. The 6th string on my guitar comes through as clear as the 1st string.

All sales are factory direct, unless you live in Southern California and can visit their showroom. I highly recommend them.

Carvin sells a complete line of guitars, basses, amplifiers, guitar/bass kits, acoustic electric guitars, microphones and sound reinforcement systems.



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