In the 1960's and early 1970's, Carvin bought necks from Höfner, and used them on their own guitars and basses.  Höfner was founded in Schönbach, Germany in 1887 by master luthier Karl Höfner, and was the largest manufacturer of stringed and fretted instruments in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His two sons, Josef and Walter, joined their father's company in 1919 and 1921, and they successfully expanded Höfner's worldwide market, enabling them to survive the years of recovery following World War II.

Höfner is now part of The Music Group conglomerate, and still makes guitars, basses and other gear.

Carvin's relationship with Höfner began in the mid-1960's, and would last until the late 1980's.  Carvin guitars and basses from 1964 until 1978 had bolt on Höfner necks, and the SH225 was made by Höfner and sold under the Carvin name.

Note the following headstocks:

Hofner & Carvin Headstocks
The headstock on the left is from a late 80's Höfner Nightingale.  The headstock on the right is from a 1982 CM140.  Although the headstock shapes are different, there is no mistaking the inlay in the center.


In this example, the Höfner headstock on the left is from a 1963 model, and the Carvin headstock is from a 1978 CM140.  Although the inlays are different, the shapes are nearly identical.


In the above example, the mid-60's Höfner headstock on the left is identical to the '73 Carvin CM95 on the right, including the inlay.


Carvin basses also showed their similarity to Höfner models.  The 1968 Höfner 500-6 has the same headstock shape, as well as the same inlay as the 1974 Carvin SB40.


This example (above) shows a relatively new Höfner 500/1 "Beatle bass" and a '79 Carvin LB60.  Once again, the "double diamond" logos are identical.  Click the picture to see the entire Höfner advertisement.

For more, see 1969 and 1981.

 

Due to the amount of customization available on Carvin guitars, identifying the specific model can sometimes be difficult. Serial numbers can be of some help in narrowing down the possible guitar models available for any given year, but the most accurate method of making the determination, particularly on a guitar where the serial number is not known, is by looking at the woods, hardware, and headstock, and then seeing what models from what year fit that criteria. Serial number information for Carvin instruments is scarce, and bass guitars were serialized right along with guitars:

Guitar Identification Matrix

Bass Identification Guide

Amplifier Identification Guide

  lowest known
serial number
highest known
serial number
1970 - 1979 5000 10019
1980 - 1983 10768 15919
1984 - 1987 13666 25332
1988 - 1990 22731 25683
1991 - 1994 25359 42547
1995 - 1999 45879 81427
2000 - present 56162 ~95000

Extrapolation of serial numbers is practically impossible, and the numbers themselves have no logical order.  For example, a TL60 made in 2002 has a serial number of 63663, while a Bolt made in 2000 has a serial number of 82398, and an LB70 made in 1998 has a serial number of 63094.  These examples are actual serial numbers, as well, and are only one example of the randomness of Carvin's serial number schema, especially from 1995 to the present.

Guitars and basses prior to 1970 did not have serial numbers.  1970 was the first year, and the serial number sequence began with 5000 (versus something like 0001).  Unlike most other manufacturers' serial numbers, there are no hidden "codes" in a Carvin serial number that indicate year or month of production, or anything else.  They are, essentially, a random number. 

Carvin serial numbers can be located in several different places.  Older models, up through the late 1990's, had the serial number on the jackplate.  However, models with rounded body sides had jacks with no plates, so these serial numbers are located on the fretboard.  There's an exception to this, as well - maple fingerboards.  Because maple (and birdseye maple) cannot be stamped with a serial number like ebony can, a model with rounded body side (and therefore, no jackplate) with a maple fingerboard would have the serial number on the control cavity cover plate.  Models from the 1970s with a bolt-on neck could have the serial number located on the neck plate, as well.

Carvin does not keep an accurate database of serial numbers, and cannot provide any information based solely on a serial number.  Because many of the guitars they produce are custom orders, the serial numbers flow as the orders are received, therefore, sequential serial numbers could represent any model guitar or bass. 

So, the best details to look at in narrowing down possible Carvin production years are logo style, neck, headstock shape, bridge, tuners and body construction. Still, determining the actual model year can sometimes be very tricky, but by paying close attention to these details, a good educated guess can be made.

 

The chart below will help narrow down the year of production based on certain general features.  Not all features are options are listed here; this is just a quick-reference guide.  For much more detailed information of features, models and the relevant model years, see the Guitar Identification Matrix.

Feature Year
Bolt-on Höfner neck 1964-1978
Bolt-on Carvin neck, curved logo 1977-1978
Bolt-on Carvin neck, block logo 1990 (BC130), 1997-present (Bolt, Bolt Plus, Contour)
Set neck, curved logo 1979-1987
Set neck, block logo (Holdsworth, CT6) 1996-present
Neck-through, block logo  1988-present
Koa wood 1981-present
Natural finish 1954-present
Sunburst finish (with bolt Hofner neck) 1954-1976
Black, White, Red finishes 1983-present (Black introduced in 1980)
All other colors 1986-present (released gradually, some discontinued)
Flamed maple top 1989-present
Quilted maple top 1992-present
Schaller bridge & tailpiece 1977-1983
Schaller 1-piece bridge/tailpiece 1983-1987
Kahler Tremolo (Pro, Flyer, Fulcrum) 1983-1989
Original Floyd Rose Tremolo 1988-1989, 1996-present
Carvin-licensed Floyd Rose Tremolo 1990-1992
Wilkinson Tremolo 1994-present

As with all Carvin guitars and basses, the presence (or absence) of a specific feature does not guarantee the year of manufacture.  For example, there are some set-neck guitars (circa 1987) with the block logo (which wasn't "officially" introduced until 1988).  Because features and options were added or discontinued at various times during the year, and because Carvin would generally accommodate requests to use features that were no longer officially offered, there are some exceptions to the rules presented here.

 

One of the first general giveaways to the year of a particular model is the logo on the headstock. This will at least identify if it's pre- or post-1988, which was the year that Carvin switched from the curved logo to the block italic logo. This is particularly useful when identifying used guitars (and basses), as the year is often misidentified. The curved logo started appearing around 1975 in the middle of the headstock, oriented so the it read normally if the instrument was on a stand, regardless of whether the headstock in question was a 3X3 or a six inline.  Later headstocks, with the block logo, were positioned horizontally on the 3X3 headstocks, and vertically on the inline models. In 1976, the horizontally-oriented curved logo, positioned at the top of the headstock, was introduced. The curved logo in this era was also inlaid, not a decal as in the block logo of later years.  However, there have been a few newer Carvin guitars made with an inlaid block logo - but the rule of thumb is that if the logo was the inlaid "curved C" (as shown at the right), it's pre-1988; if it's a decal block logo (in black or white), it's 1988 or later.

Carvin LogosThe logo on the right (above) was the standard on Carvin guitars during the late 1970's and early to mid 1980's.  Some models had the "double-diamond" inlay, and some did not.  The inlay was predominant on the higher-end models, like the DC160, but has been seen on other models of that era (and was a holdover from the Höfner era; see sidebar at left).  Additionally, a different inlay, the "sword" (another Höfner design) was used at least in 1978 on the traditional headstock with rosewood fingerboard.  In the early 1970's, the double fleur-de-lis style inlay (also from Höfner) was used on some guitars and basses (see the headstocks below).

The 2 logos in the middle (right) never appeared on guitars or basses. They are included here for posterity only. The cursive logo (2nd from top) was used on mixers and pro audio amps in the 1980's, and the block logo (2nd from bottom) was used on some instrument amps and other electronics in the 1980's. Prior to '88, the same curved logo (top) that appeared on guitars and basses also appeared on amps and speaker cabinets. After 1988, all Carvin gear used the standardized italic block logo (bottom).

This logo was used on some Carvin components in the mid to late 1970's; specifically, on such things as amp and cabinet handles.  It's similar to the "Curved C" that was used in the 1970s and 1980s, but the letters aren't attached to the underlining part of the letter C. 

This is the earliest Carvin logo, used on instruments beginning about 1949, when the L. C. Kiesel Company name became Carvin, Inc.  This logo was used until about 1955, when the factory was moved from Baldwin Park (about 20 miles east of Los Angeles) to Covina.

This logo was also used in the early to mid-1950's, prior to the Covina move.  At the time, Carvin sold some entry-level instruments, most likely made in Germany, then re-badged with the Carvin logo as shown here.

Carvin Covina Logo

The Covina logo on the left was used on Carvin guitars and basses from 1956 to 1969, following the move from Baldwin Park. The Carvin factory moved from Covina to Escondido sometime around 1969, so there may be similar logos that read "Escondido, Calif." for the period of '69 through '75.

If you go back in time far enough, you'll find the logo on the left (and some variants) in Carvin's history. This is the original Kiesel logo, used on steel guitars manufactured around 1947, before the Carvin name (which came from Lowell Kiesel's 2 eldest son's names, Carson and Gavin) was introduced.  Note that at the time, Carvin's home base was Gothenburg, Nebraska.

Kiesel Logo

Kiesel Patent Applied For


Kiesel didn't stay in Nebraska long.  Although this was Lowell Kiesel's home state, he returned to Los Angeles after a brief stint in the Midwest, and the logos on the left and right were used on steel guitars and amplifiers from the era, circa 1948-1949.


 


M22 Guitar Pickup
C22 Guitar Pickup
H22 Guitar Pickup

Carvin currently produces a wide assortment of pickups, in single-coil, single-blade, twinblade, stacked humbucker and standard humbucker design.  Furthermore, some of these designs have variants - such as neck or bridge models.  Therefore, identifying what model pickup is installed in a particular guitar can be tricky.  The humbuckers are the most popular, but with 8 basic models, telling them apart requires attention to particular details.  However, Carvin has made this easier - the pickups are marked on the back (either with a label or in black marker) as to what each model is.  But if you don't want to pull the pickup, there are some visual clues.

1992 Era PickupsThe M22 Humbucker (left, top) was introduced in 1978, making them Carvin's longest running 22-pole humbuckers.  They have two rows of 11 adjustable polepieces, which are designed to adjust with an allen wrench.  From 1978 to 1985, these were only offered in cream, with either black or cream mounting bezels. They are currently available in black, cream, or one black coil/one cream coil ("zebra"), with a black or cream bezel.  Additionally, from 1992-1997, they were offered with two red coils, or one red coil and one black coil (right, circa 1992).  M22 pickups are currently offered in four configurations: SD (bridge), T (bridge), V (neck) and N (neck) models.  Up until 1996, all M22 pickups had 4 mounting screws - in 1996 and afterward, they only had 3 (compare the pictures above).

In 1996, Carvin introduced the C22 Vintage series (above left, center).  The C22 pickups have one row of 11 adjustable polepieces (phillips type) and one row of 11 fixed polepieces, which is similar in design to Gibson PAF humbuckers.  These were offered in the same colors as the M22 pickups, but in only two variants originally - the C22T (bridge) and C22N (neck).  In 2003, the C22B bridge pickup was added to the series, which had extra windings and a double-thickness 1/4" Alnico-V magnet.  All C22 series pickups have 3 mounting screws; they never had 4 like the M22.  The C series pickups were also offered in 7-string versions; the C26.  The C26 has one row of 13 adjustable polepieces, and one row of 13 non-adjustable polepieces.

Also in 1996, the Holdsworth humbuckers were introduced, with the prefix H (above left, bottom). The H22 pickups have two rows of 11 adjustable polepieces (phillips type).  These are offered in the same colors as the H22 and C22 pickups, and in two variants; the H22T (bridge) and H22N (neck).  Like the C22, all H22 pickups have 3 mounting screws.

In late 2006, the C22J pickup was added.  Visually, it was the same as the other C22 pickups, but was warmer than the C22N.  Like the C22N, the Jseries was designed for use in the neck position.

Some Carvin guitars don't require mounting bezels, either because they have a pickguard (Bolt), or because they are "rear-routed" or "direct mount" (Bolt+, C66, DC727, DC747).

PICKUP TYPE CONDUCTORS

DC RESISTANCE (ohms)

MAGNET
AP11 Single Coil 2+SHIELD
4.3K
CERAMIC
S60T/N Single Coil Rail 2+SHIELD
7.6K
ALNICO 5
TBH60 Dual Coil Humbucker 4+SHIELD
7.9K
CERAMIC
C22N Dual Coil Humbucker 2+tap+shield
7.4K
ALNICO 5
C22B Dual Coil Humbucker 2+tap+shield
14.1K
ALNICO 5
C22T Dual Coil Humbucker 2+tap+shield
8.6K
ALNICO 5
H22N Dual Coil Humbucker 2+tap+shield
7.3K
ALNICO 5
H22T Dual Coil Humbucker 2+tap+shield
8.6K
ALNICO 5
M22N Dual Coil Humbucker 2+tap+shield
8.4K
ALNICO 5
M22V Dual Coil Humbucker 2+tap+shield
7.3K
ALNICO 5
M22T Dual Coil Humbucker 2+tap+shield
13.3K
ALNICO 5
M22SD Dual Coil Humbucker 2+tap+shield
13.9K
ALNICO 5
C26-T 7-string Dual Coil Humbucker 2+tap+shield
16.0K
CERAMIC
C26-N 7-string Dual Coil Humbucker 2+tap+shield
10.1K
CERAMIC
C13 7-string Single Coil 2+SHIELD
7.8K
CERAMIC

 

 

Another obvious giveaway to the model year is the headstock shape. Although this won't narrow it down to a specific year, it will at least provide a range of years, especially since the headstock shape changed every few years.

1970-1975 Traditional Headstock 1970-1975 Inline Headstock 1976-1978 Traditional Headstock 1976-1978 Inline Headstock
70-75 traditional 70-75 inline 76-78 traditional 78 traditional 76-78 inline
1976-1978 12-String Headstock 1978-1987 Traditional Headstock 1984-1987 V Headstock 1980-1987 12-String Headstock 1988-1989 Inline Headstock
76-78 12-string

78-87 (inlay on some)

84-87 (V220) 80-87 12-string 88-89
1988-1989 Reverse Inline Headstock 1988-1989 12-String Inline Headstock 1988-2004 V Headstock 1990-1991 Inline Headstock 1990-1991 12-String Traditional Headstock
88-89 reverse inline 88-89 12-string inline 88-04 V 90-91 90-91 12-string
1990-1991 12-String Inline Headstock 1992-1995 Inline Headstock 1992-1995 Reverse Inline Headstock 1993-1995 Inline Headstock 1993-1995 Reverse Inline Headstock
90-91 12-string inline 92 (large logo) 92 reverse inline 93-95 (small logo) 93-95 reverse inline
1995-2004 Traditional Headstock

1995-2003 Inline Headstock

1995-2003 Reverse Inline Headstock

1996-2004 Holdsworth Headstock 1999-2004 7-String Headstock
 95-04 traditional 95-03 95-03 reverse inline 96-04 Holdsworth 99-04 7-string
1992-2004 12-String Traditional Headstock 2002-2004 CC275 Headstock 2003-2004 Classical Headstock 2003-2004 Inline Headstock 2004 California Carved Top Headstock

92-04 12-string

02-04 CC275 03-04 classical

03-04 new style

04 carved top


 

Another effective way of narrowing down the production year of a specific model is by looking at the bridge/tailpiece assembly.  This changed very often, especially in the 80's and early 90's, and because of the frequent changes, it's fairly easy to narrow down a specific year model, especially when cross-referenced with the headstock shape above.

1976
1976
1976
1976 - 1978

In the 1970's, a wide variety of bridge and tailpiece assemblies were used, starting with ones made by unspecified manufacturers out of unspecified materials.  However, Carvin had been using various tailpieces made by Bigsby since the early 1960's, all of which were vibrato tailpieces - the precursor to the modern tremolo.  These continued to be used until 1976.  Above on the far left is the Bigsby B15, for solid body guitars, and next to it, the Bigsby B16, for semi-hollow guitars.  Next is the AT6 trapezoid tailpiece, which was also used on semi-hollow models.  On the far right is the TB6 tune-o-matic bridge with solid brass N6 tailpiece, which would be the first standard bridge/tailpiece assembly Carvin would offer.

1978 - 1981
1981 - 1983
1981 - 1987
1983 - 1987

The 1978 TB6/N6 bridge tailpiece changed slightly from the previous version.  The tune-o-matic bridge itself was slightly larger.  Although it wasn't specified, these were most likely made by Schaller.  Chrome was standard, but 24K gold was offered on the DC160.

In 1981, the TB6/N6 combination was changed again.  The most obvious change was the larger tailpiece.  These components were made by Schaller, and were available in chrome or 24K gold.  There was also a 12-string variant used on the DC120 and the DN612, called the TB12 and N12.  The 12 string version was used until 1989.

The TB6 first appeared in 1981 on the SH225, and in 1983, it and the FTB6 were the standard tailpieces on all but the 12-string models, replacing the tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece that had been used up until then.  It was available in chrome or gold, and black chrome would be added in 1986.

The FTB6, which was the same as the TB6 but had fine-tuners, first appeared in 1983, and would be the standard bridge until 1987.  Like the TB6, it was available in chrome, gold or black chrome.

1984 - 1989, 1992
Kahler Pro Tremolo
1987
Kalher Flyer Tremolo
1989
Kahler 2710 Fulcrum Tremolo
1988 - 1989, 1994 - present
Floyd Rose Tremolo

A welcome addition to Carvin guitars was the Kahler model 2300 Pro tremolo.  This would be the first true tremolo offered by Carvin, and would be a resounding success in the 80's.  These were offered on Carvin guitars immediately after Kahler began producing the units, and were initially offered in chrome or gold, with black chrome added in 1986. 

For the guitarist on a budget, Carvin added the Kahler Flyer tremolo in 1987; however, it would only be offered for one year.  Notice the difference in the shape of the base plate as compared to the Kahler Pro.  This was offered in chrome, gold and black chrome.

The Kahler model 2710 tremolo was added in 1989, and was offered for one year only.  This was a fulcrum-style tremolo, similar to the Floyd Rose.  Because this was only offered in 1989, it's reasonable to assume that any model with this trem is an '89.

The original Floyd Rose tremolo was added to Carvin's lineup in 1988.  This gave customers the choice of the Kahler Pro or the Floyd Rose, appealing to both markets at the same time.  The original Floyd Rose would be offered in 1988 and 1989, then would be retired in favor of a Carvin-licensed model.  However, it would return in 1994.

1988 - 1989
Schaller LP6 Bridge
1990 - 1991, 1996 - present
1990 - 1992
Carvin Licensed Floyd Rose Tremolo
1992 - present

The single-piece Schaller LP6 bridge was the standard hardtail bridge at the end of the 80's.  Like it's bass counterpart, it had string rollers, and was available in chrome (standard), gold and black chrome.

As the 90's began, Carvin went with a Les Paul-style tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece, similar to the models from the late 70's and early 80's.   A 12-string version was also offered for the DC120 and DN612.  This configuration would reappear in 1996 on the Holdsworth guitars, and in 1997 on the SC90.

In an effort to keep costs down, Carvin replaced the original Floyd Rose tremolo with a Carvin-licensed version that was actually made by Schaller in 1990.  The giveaway to this model is the Carvin logo on the top of the body plate.  This one was available in chrome, gold or black chrome.

The FT6 was introduced in 1992 as the new standard fixed bridge.  It was available in standard chrome, as well as gold and black chrome.  A 12-string version, the FT12, was standard on the DC120 and DN612.  A 7-string version was added in 1999.  In 1993, the strings through the body feature was added, accentuating the sustain of this bridge.

1993 - present
2001 - present
2001 - present
Carvin Floyd Rose 7-String Tremolo
2003 - present
Carvin M Series Bridge

In 1993, only one tremolo was offered - the Carvin-licensed Wilkinson tremolo.   This model was offered in chrome (which was actually more of a brushed aluminum look), gold and black chrome.

Although it looked basically the same as the FT6, the Fishman Acoustic bridge had a piezo pickup on each saddle, allowing for a true acoustic tone from a solidbody electric instrument.

In 2001, Carvin added a licensed Floyd Rose tremolo for the DC727 and DC747 7-string guitars.  This tremolo was available in chrome, gold and black chrome.

In late 2003, the M Series bridge was added.  This was a standard tune-o-matic bridge, with no tailpiece; the strings simple fed through the body of the guitar.


 

Carvin has used an assortment of high-quality woods since they began building their own necks and bodies in the late 70's. With the exception of poplar, all these woods are still available on Carvin basses and guitars.

Maple Eastern Hard Rock Maple (Acer Saccharum)

For many years, Eastern Hard Rock Maple was the standard wood used in Carvin guitars & basses. It is still the standard used in Carvin necks, due to it's bright tone and superior sustain. It is still available as an optional body, but is no longer standard, partly due to it's heavy weight. The grain is closed and easy to finish, and looks good in translucent finishes as well as solid colors, but not stained (unless finished over with clear gloss) or tung-oiled.

Shown is a 1980 DC150 in clear gloss with chrome hardware.

Poplar Poplar (Liriodendron Tulipifera)

Poplar was Carvin's standard wood from 1990 to 1996. It's very similar to alder tonally, and weighs just slightly more. It is naturally a grayish-green color, so it does not look good with clear finishes, or with some translucent finishes. Like maple, it is a closed grain wood that is easy to finish.

Shown is a 1990 DC200 in Translucent Sapphire Blue with black hardware.

Alder Alder (Alnus Rubra)

Harvested largely in the Pacific Northwest, alder is a light weight wood with a full sound. This is the standard wood used on most Carvin solidbody guitars and basses (in conjunction with a maple neck), unless another wood choice is specified. It's has a tight grain, with little or no grain lines, making it easy to finish.

Shown is a 1996 SC90 in Tobacco Sunburst on alder with chrome hardware.

Flamed Maple Flamed Maple (Acer Macrophyllum)

Flamed maple tops were added as an option in 1989. Prior to that, Carvin's instruments had some figure (the pattern of the grain) in the maple, but varied from little figure to moderate figure. When the flamed maple top option was added, it signified that highly figured 1/2" maple would be added to a body made from a different wood, usually alder. Flamed maple is also referred to as fiddled maple or tiger maple, and is recognized by the striped pattern. Striped patterns that run diagonally to form a point in the center of the body are referred to as chevrons (pointing towards the bridge) or reverse chevrons (pointing towards the neck). Because it represents a small amount of the total body mass, it does not have a huge impact on tone, but could add some brightness if applied over mahogany or koa.

Shown is a 2000 Holdsworth H1 in Antique Brown on flamed maple with chrome hardware.

Quilted Maple (Acer Macrophyllum)

Quilted maple tops were added to list of Carvin options in 1992, but had been available in the 80's on the DC160 guitar (called "curly maple" at the time). It is used as a "top" on Carvin basses, meaning a 1/2" layer is added over another type of body wood - usually alder. Like flamed maple, quilted maple does not have a huge impact on tone, but could add some brightness if applied over mahogany or koa. It is rarer than flamed maple, and is found mostly in western maple. Quilted maple has a more circular pattern, in contrast to the relatively straight pattern of flamed maple, and the figure varies widely, from loose, cloud-shaped patterns to tight curls. It looks good in translucent and burst finishes, and stains finished in clear gloss, but not in matte satin or tung-oil.

Shown is a 2005 CT6M in Deep Sunsetburst on quilt with gold hardware.

Koa Koa (Acacia Koa)

Carvin began using koa wood (sometimes referred to Hawaiian mahogany) in the early 80's, far ahead of most manufacturers. This wood is grown only in Hawaii, adding to it's exotic appeal, and making it's quantities somewhat limited. It's lighter than maple, but varies from medium to heavy weight. It's tone is warm like mahogany, but a little brighter, and has become increasingly popular in bass guitars. Carvin builds koa basses with tung-oiled finish, clear matte satin, and gloss finish. Carvin guitars can be ordered with a koa body and maple neck (which would be standard on a koa model, unless otherwise specified), or with a koa body and 2-piece koa neck, or koa body and 5-piece neck in several combinations. Carvin also offers a 1/2" thick highly flamed koa top which can be used in conjunction with koa or other body woods.

Shown is a 2002 SC90 with koa neck and body and gold hardware.

Walnut Walnut (Juglans Nigra)

Walnut (also known as black walnut) is almost as heavy as maple, but not quite as bright. Carvin's standard walnut body is used with a maple neck, but a 2-piece walnut neck can be ordered, as well as a walnut or figured walnut top used with another body wood. The grain is similar to koa, but the wood itself is darker. Walnut looks good in tung-oil, matte satin, or gloss finish.

Shown is a a 1999 LB70 in tung-oiled walnut with gold hardware.

California Claro Walnut Claro Walnut (Juglans Hindsii)

Claro Walnut is part of the black walnut family, and is grown primarily in Northern California, but can be found as far north as British Columbia. The Claro Walnut Series was introduced in 1999, and used a California Claro Walnut top on a body with walnut back and maple center. Tonal properties and weight of Claro Walnut is similar to standard walnut, with the difference being the highly figured quality of the wood. Claro Walnut can be tung-oiled, finished in matte satin, or gloss.

Shown is a 2004 Claro Walnut DC400W in gloss finish with gold hardware.

Mahogany Honduran Mahogany (Swietenia Macrophylla)

Mahogany is similar in tonal characteristics to koa, but has a finer grain with little or no figure. It's also about the same weight as koa, being lighter than maple, but heavier than alder. The tone is warm and full with good sustain. Carvin offers mahogany with a maple neck, or mahogany with a two-piece mahogany neck. Mahogany looks good in clear gloss, and with some translucent finishes and burst finishes.

Shown is a 2004 SC90 in clear gloss on mahogany with mahogany neck and gold hardware.

Swamp Ash Swamp Ash (Fraxinus Americana)

Carvin began using Swamp Ash (also known as Southern Ash) in 2001. In recent years, this has become a popular wood, especially for basses, due to it's light weight and tonal qualities. It offers a very nice balance of brightness and warmth with a lot of punch. It has a distinctive open grain, and is creamy in color when unfinished. The attractive grain pattern lends itself well to translucent colors, but it can also be painted a solid color. However, it does not accept stain well, and therefore, should not be finished with stain or tung oil.

Shown is a 2002 DC135 in Classic Sunburst on swamp ash with chrome hardware.

Engleman Spruce Engleman Spruce (Picea Englemanii)

Engleman Spruce is only offered as a top on some of Carvin's Cobalt acoustics and AC-series guitars and basses. Engleman Spruce trees are grown in subalpine climates such as British Columbia, and the trees are slow to grow and long lived (300 years). Engleman Spruce is light and has a tight grain, which enables the wood, when properly cut, to vibrate much like a speaker cone. As the guitar ages, the sap hidden in the grain of spruce gradually dries and crystallizes, further accentuating the bright, resonant quality of the wood.

Shown is a 2002 C780 in clear matte satin finish.

Cedar Red Cedar (Juniperus Virginiana)

Red Cedar is the standard top wood on the CL450 classical guitar. It has a tight grain, which is even and straight. The tone is warm, with less high end than spruce. It can be stained, but is generally left in it's natural reddish-brown color.

Shown is a 2003 CL450 in clear matte satin finish.

For more information, see the Guitar Identification Matrix.