There were a few new things for
guitarists to get excited about in 2003, especially a new model, the
Contour 66. A 12-string Cobalt was also added, making for a
record number of available models offered. Although subtle, the
inline headstocks were redesigned very slightly at the end of 2003.
A new pickup, the C22B was added, and was standard on many models.
This high-output bridge pickup had extra windings, and a
double-thick 1/4" Alnico V magnet, which was a Carvin exclusive.
There was a significant change to the
marketing in mid-2003, as well. Since the inception of the
smaller, quarterly catalogs, guitars and basses had been shown on
relatively neutral backgrounds, primarily using earth tones or plain
white. In mid-2003, this changed to a flashy computer generated
black background, giving a high-tech, modern appearance to Carvin's
guitars and basses. This would appear in one catalog only, and
would lead up to the return of the large-format 8 1/2" X 11" catalog
The prices and pictures are from the
Summer 2003 catalog. Click each picture for a larger
In conjunction with the new catalog layout,
Carvin's website also featured new guitar pictures on a similar
computer-generated black background (above). For the first time, the
catalog and website layouts matched and complimented each other, and gave a
fresh, new appearance to both. Carvin discontinued showing photographs of In-Stock instruments on their
website in mid-2003, however, the In-Stock images were re-added after several
months in response to customer's requests.
All new for 2003 was the Contour
66, one of the more revolutionary models to come from Carvin in many
years. This 22-fret bolt neck guitar had an alder body with maple neck,
and standard AAAA flamed maple top with matching headstock, ebony fingerboard,
Sperzel locking tuners and direct-mounted C22 pickups, with single volume and
tone controls and 5-way pickup selector. The name came from the model's
most interesting feature - the contoured upper bout, allowing for a more
comfortable playing position.
The base price
was $829, and it was also available with the Wilkinson tremolo for $869, or
with a Floyd Rose for $929. The catalog showed a close up of a
C66C in Sunsetburst on flame with a Floyd Rose tremolo;
and a C66 in Cherry Sunburst on quilt with matching headstock, Fishman
acoustic bridge with active electronics, abalone block inlays
and gold hardware; and a C66T in Sapphire Blue on quilt with matching
headstock, abalone dot inlays and gold hardware.
The Bolt and Bolt-T
(right) were unchanged,
but the prices did increase somewhat. The new base price of the
Bolt was $589, and the Bolt-T was $629.
The catalog photo showed a Bolt in
Sapphire Blue on swamp ash with Sperzel locking tuners, white pearloid
pickguard and C22 bridge humbucker. The Bolt-T was shown in
Seafoam Green with Sperzel locking tuners and maple fingerboard.
New for 2003, and only
shown in the Winter catalog was the Bolt+ (left). This new instrument
combined the shape of the Bolt, with the rear-routed electronics of
the Contour, eliminating the pickguard. The base price on the
Bolt+ was $625.
The catalog photo showed the Bolt+ in Classic White with black hardware,
and in Blueburst with chrome hardware and Wilkinson tremolo.
The DC127 (near right) and DC135
(far right), were unchanged for 2003, and had similar price increases
as other models. Base price on both models was $669, and
Wilkinson-equipped models started at $709. The Floyd
Rose-equipped models started at $769.
The catalog showed the DC127 in koa
with blackburst edges and matching headstock, rounded body sides,
abalone block inlays, and black hardware. The DC135 was
shown in Sunsetburst on swamp ash with matching headstock,
rounded body sides, Birdseye maple fingerboard, cream AP11 pickups
with 5-way switch and gold hardware.
The TL60 was unchanged, but the
Crowe Option Package wasn't mentioned, although it was most likely
still available, and even if it wasn't, a TL60 could still be had with
the features of the Crowe Package. The base price on the TL60
jumped up, to $659 (from $589 in 2002), and the Wilkinson-equipped
model started at $699.
The catalog photo showed a TL60 in
Blueburst on swamp ash with abalone dot inlays, Fishman acoustic
bridge/active electronics and gold hardware. The TL60T was shown
in Tobacco Sunburst on swamp ash.
The DC150 (near right) and SC90
(far right) were unchanged, but did jump in price. The DC150 was
$769 in it's sophomore year, and the SC90 was $669. The DC150 was
not available with a tremolo, and the SC90 was still offered with the
Wilkinson tremolo, or with an original Floyd Rose tremolo.
The catalog showed the DC150 in Cherry
Sunburst on quilted maple with cream pickup coils, coil splitters and
gold hardware. The SC90 was shown in Tobacco Sunburst on swamp ash
with rounded body sides.
The DC200, DC400 and DC120
had price increases consistent with other Carvin models in
mid-2003. The DC200 had a base price of $769, and the DC400 had a
base price of $949. The DC120 12-string model increased to $839,
after many years with a $749 price tag. The Wilkinson and Floyd
Rose-equipped models had relative price increases as well, but the
Anniversary pakage remained $200 additional.
The catalog photo showed the DC200 in
Vintage Yellow on swamp ash with rounded body sides, Fishman acoustic
bridge and gold hardware, and the DC400 was shown in Ruby Red
Stain with blackburst edges on quilted maple and matching
headstock, Fishman acoustic bridge and black hardware.
The DC727 and DC747 were
unchanged, and the DC747 is actually the same one used in the catalog
in 2002, laid onto the new background. The DC727 increased to
$699, while the licensed Floyd Rose version was $769. The DC747
increased to $729, with the licensed Floyd Rose version was
The catalog photo showed the DC727 in
Greenburst on flamed maple with matching headstock, abalone block
inlays and gold hardware, and the DC747 was shown in Sapphire Blue on
quilted maple with matching headstock and coil splitters.
The H2 (far left) and HF2
(near left) were unchanged. The price on the H2 rose to $879 (or
$919 with Wilkinson tremolo) and the HF2 rose to $979.
The catalog photo showed the H2 in
Antique Brown Stain on quilted maple with matching headstock, no
inlays, and black hardware, and the HF2 was shown in Blueburst on
quilted maple with matching headstock and black hardware.
The AE185 and it's 12-string
counterpart, the AE185-12, were unchanged for 2003. The
AE185 increased in price to $869, while the 12-string version was $949.
The catalog photo showed an AE185 in Ruby
Red Stain on quilted maple with matching headstock, body binding and
abalone block inlays, and one in Sunsetburst on flamed maple with
matching headstock, body binding, coil taps and phase switches and gold
The AC175 (far left), AC275
and CC275 (near left) models were unchanged for 2003.
The AC175 started at $769, the AC275 started at $819, and the Craig
Chaquico CC275 was $979.
The catalog photo showed a left-handed
AC175 in Classic Sunburst on flamed maple with matching headstock, body
binding, and gold hardware, and a CC275 with standard appointments.
The AC375 (near right) and the CL450
Classical (far right) were unchanged. The AC375 increased in price
to $899, and the CL450 increased to $949.
The catalog photo showed the AC375 in
clear gloss on AAA Engleman spruce with body binding and gold hardware,
and the CL450 in clear gloss with blackburst edges on flamed maple with
matching headstock, body binding and gold hardware.
Cobalt acoustic guitars were unchanged from 2002, with the exception of
the addition of a 12-string model, the C980-12. See
2004 for pictures and descriptions of the