Carvin B4 Bass
Review Date: Wednesday 15th of April 2009 07:00:44 PM
Last Updated: Monday 7th of December 2009 04:51:52 PM
Reviewed By: Gareth Morgan
Built in California, sold by mail, Carvins have never enjoyed the European sales they deserve. Gareth Morgan reckons there's a case to be made for buying sight unseen.
To begin with we checked out the B4’s three basic
pickup settings with the tone knob on full, and unearthed lots of good
stuff. In twin-pickup mode the sound is clean, evenly responsive and
fat with a real feeling of solidity across the range. Although not
over-laden with chiming harmonics there’s a growling edge to the lower
strings and more than enough punchy impact to make the Carvin sound
like it really means business. We detected just a hint of metallic zing
on thinner strings, but it never gets brittle.
So far, it's nicely
unbiased and pleasingly versatile in a stylistic sense. The neck pickup
follows suit: obviously it's more biased towards the business end,
creating a greater feeling of width without a real difference in output
level. That might sound a fraction limp, but it's not – it's a smoother
sound with a rubbery quality, but it’s also got a pleasing earthy rasp
complete with enlivening acoustic elements and there's plenty of zing
for definition in the lower octaves. The D and G strings have plenty of
cut and bite but more than enough body for practical purposes, too.
bridge pickup is a slightly lower in output. There's a little less
width on display, but this is more than made up for by the smooth tone
and that tell-tale burpy, gurgling quality… not enough to be annoying
and overbearing, but just right.
As always on any bass with
passive electronics and a single master tone control, the variations
available are limited. To the Carvin's credit, full treble cut isn’t
totally sub-aquatic and woolly, giving a rumble with just enough focus
for limited practicality. It's better to ease that tone knob just a
smidgen away from fully-off. With both pickups on this setting produces
a tight, silky, funky sound shorn of snappy spike – excellent for
modern soul and pop. The neck version is duller, but the wider response
and extra thud sends the B4 in a definite retro blues/rock direction,
while cutting back the treble on the bridge pickup removes any steely
elements from the B4’s sound but still leaves it playable.
The B4 is very well put together. It shows excellent balance from its two pickups, and gives a good range of quality passive sounds without any setting being totally unusable. With all the options available on the Carvin website you could pay up to £1000 for a B4, but we’d say that unless you fancy being overly ostentatious or hanker after an active version, there’s no real need. This is a good bass as it is.
1. Carvin B4 Bass
2. Carvin - B4 Bass guitar review