BGRA: Carvin Icon

Manufacturer Carvin Model Icon
Reviewer Peter Andersen
Experience Over 30 Item owned 6 months to 1 year
Review Date 2006-12-02 Price paid $1200
Bass type4 string fretted
Neck joinNeck Through
Neck construction5 piece maple/walnut
FingerboardEbony, 34 inch scale
Bodyalder, flame maple top
Finishgloss poly
Pickups2 Carvin soapbars
Hardwarechrome
Electronicsactive
Playability: The Icon has a great feeling neck with low action. Mine has a gloss finish and feels smooth and glassy. The nickel strings that came with the bass felt stiff, so I replaced them with stainless steel and it now has a much better, low tension feel. It balances nicely on a strap and is light. While seated, it feels a bit like it will slip off your leg due to the shorter lower horn (same as on the Bunny Brunel model) but on the other hand the neck doesnít dive. The rounded body edges give a nicer feel for your plucking arm than the more squared off edges of other models, and Iím glad Carvin includes this as a standard feature of the Icon.

Workmanship: Fantastic! The finish is expertly applied and the woods used are quality, from the flamed maple top to the ebony fingerboard. The new bridge is a welcome addition since you can adjust the strings sideways. Tuners are smooth. I recently added a hipshot D-tuner and it fit right in with no extra hole drilling required (Carvin offers this as an option).

Sound: Focused and piano-like with nice sustain and a hi-fi sound. The new electronics offer more versatility and clarity than the old version. I especially love the rich growl of the open E. The treble knob gives me much greater tonal range than on my 5-string Carvin kit bass, which doesnít cut the treble as much. The mid sweep allows you to select the frequency and cut or boost as desired. Even with all this tonal control, the front of the bass isnít a mass of knobs and switches because the bass/treble and mid/boost-cut knobs are stacked. I have it strung with Carvin stainless steel round wounds but may experiment with other strings if I can find some in the same gauge. The tone controls have no effect in passive mode so I always run it active. For me, the passive mode is more of an emergency feature in case the batteries die.

My only regret is not choosing the piezo pickup option. I recently heard a recording of an Icon with piezos and it sounded magnificent! It added a nice airy, acoustic quality. Guess Iíll have to order another oneÖ

Iíve had the bass for over 6 months now and Iím still loving it! When the honeymoon phase is over and you feel that way, you know youíve got something. My poor Dingwall Afterburner isnít getting the attention it deserves. I own a Carvin BK5A and briefly owned a BB75 but the Icon is my overall favourite.

Service: The bass arrived within the time specified on the postcard Carvin sent me and all the options I picked were correct. I was able to track the build progress using the Guitar Traq system. I havenít had to use the warranty or call for information.

construction (95%)
playability (100%)
appearance (90%)
Looks nice! If I'd chosen a coloured finish it would probably bring the flame out more.
sound (100%)
Just what I was hoping for.
value (95%)
overall (98%)
Very satisfied. Would replace the bass if it were stolen.
The BGRA is generously underwritten by David King of Bass Guitar Systems.
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