Sound — 9
Being a bit of a metalhead, metal is really what I aim for in sound. The DC400 usually comes with C22 pickups, but I decided to opt for their M22 pickups. I don't really know the difference, but they have a tone chart available to those looking to change their sound more from stock. I'm not really sure how good the pickups are, the only comparison I can do are with pickups that are either really muddy and dark, or EMGs. Overall, I think it's balanced, nothing overly dominating any way. Like I stated earlier, the active EQ does amazing things for my clean tone. I'm running a Marshall Jcm 900 4501 (50 watt 1X12 combo) with an MXR 10-band eq and a couple other pedals. I think the active EQ works in a similar function to a compressor by what it does to my clean tone. Instead of being just mediocre clean, they decide to sparkle up and go glassy and delicious when the EQ is engaged. I can get great sounds from death metal to sparkling clean (although that matters more on the amp) and I am satisfied with them all.
Overall Impression — 10
This is one of, if not the best playing guitar I've ever played. I've been playing close to 5 years (I can't remember exactly), and I don't think I could have made a better choice to buy this guitar at that point of my life. I have loved this guitar since day one. I bought it (online, was initially kinda wary) because of absolute rave reviews on the forums, and it still delivers. My previous guitars were a Kramer Striker Custom (new from musicyo, I have a review, don't trust the review - I was naive) and the essential Squier, and this thing absolutely destroys them both in any aspect. No question. I will and do recommend Carvin guitars to anyone and everyone. I find myself now wishing for a (good) guitar with an OFR, so that might be my next purchase from Carvin. If it were stolen or damaged in a freak accident, I would buy another without question. Best $1400 I've ever spent in my life.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Everything is solid. I would, without any problem, play this Live. I would take a backup, because to do otherwise would be stupid, but if I didn't need it, I would only bring this. Great craftsmanship.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
On receiving the guitar, just about everything was perfect. Except those crap strings that were equipped. Or maybe I'm just biased (they were 9's, I've only ever used 10's). The strings wouldn't tune for anything. I eventually gave up and hour into playing and tuning every 5 minutes to put on a set of D'Addarios, and everything was fine. After putting on new strings and tuned up, we were ready to rock! Intonation wasn't bad, a little off. Action was great. Finish on the guitar was good (trans black on flamed maple), and the gold plated hardware was good to begin. Now, some of the gold has worn off in heavy use areas (such as bridge; palm muting, and volume knob.
Features — 10
Made in America, Carvin guitars are some of the best-playing instruments; period. All custom shop for electrics, you can choose or change almost any option except for body shape (and they have a decent selection of shapes, too). Mine was made in 2007, the M in DC400M designates the option for a recessed Tune-O-Matic bridge with string-through. 24 frets (XJ stainless steel as an add-on, they will last forever). Alder body wings on maple neck-through with flamed maple top, although you have available options for different neck and top woods. Schaller locking tuners make string changing a snap. Graphite nut, abalone block inlays, ebony fretboard. Sexy. The electronics module equipped is one of the reasons why I will be buying a Carvin electric again. The electronics has a 3-way Switch for pickups, master volume, master tone (I think tone is disabled when electronic EQ is enabled), push/pull on volume engages/disengages active bass and active treble. Coil taps (mini toggle switches) for each pickup, and a Switch for phase between the two pickups. Simply having the active EQ engaged does amazing things for my clean tone. For them to ship the guitar anywhere after they make it, you HAVE to buy a hard shell case from them, but 1/2 off when with the guitar order. A very good investment.