Price paid: $ 699
Purchased from: ebay
Sound — 8
So I have finally accepted that I am a metal guy. Sure I play the occasional blues and some clean melodic stuff but full on distortion is what I prefer. But that does not make me deaf on the sound quality of the guitar. I tend to explore the sounds the guitar can make by messing with the nobs even though I end up using metal sounds. So for my style I would rate it ok. What does that mean? Let me explain. First of all I play this guitar through a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier with a slanted 4X12 mesa cabinet with no effects. I am not much of an effects guy and when I am just practising I prefer to be able to hear my mistakes. So as far as clean sounds this guitar is very impressive. It can create very warm sounds and with the 3 pickups, 5 way selector, coil splits and phase selector you can make almost almost any sound you can imagine. In distortion mode you can have a very nice lead sound that cuts through from the neck humbucker, a nice Vintage sound from the single coil and you can have very interesting sounds from all the combinations that are available. The only kind of weak link is the bridge pickup. Don't get me wrong, it is not a bad pickup but the sound is a bit thin for the most extreme genres of rock music. It is articulate, it cuts through, it has distortion, you can play riffs but if you compare it with other passive pickups I think it is lacking a bit. And the bad thing is that you can't easily change the pickup since the cavity is smaller than pickups from other companies. So to recap it is a very versatile instrument that is well made, very resonant with reasonable sustain. It can hold it's tuning with the licensed floyd and the sperzels, even if it has no locking nut. You can play excellently jazz, fusion, shred, rock. But for metal you may need to change the bridge pickup (at least this is my opinion). Since I am not a mod guy I personally will try to find a better sound through my amp. So sound wise it takes for general use a 9, for metal a 7 so finally an 8.
Overall Impression — 8
Well as I said in the previous sections I play mainly metal and for that it is not perfect (at least for my ears). Other styles it can do just fine, but come on mostly metal players buy 7 strings. I have been playing guitar for 11 years now and I own 3 more guitars, one Squier MIJ, one Carvin DC400T and a BC Rich NJ jrV deluxe. From these guitars I would say my favourite is the DC400T and this comes second. Playing wise is a very comfortable guitar. I have had it for about 4 months and waited to have a more rounded opinion before making a review. I got used to it very easily and absolutely loved the wider fretboard. It just feels very comfy. What threw me of in the beginning was the lack of inlays but I got it on purpose like that (not only for the low price :P) to stop using inlays to navigate through the board. The ebony fretboard is very smooth and since it is a 25.5 inch scale didn't require a lot effort to get used to it. Even though it is a versatile instrument I would like Carvin to redesign the bridge pickup to give it a bit more punch. And in the future try to include the electronic circuit option for this model. Or at least consider giving an option for pickups from other companies. I have not played a lot of 7 strings and this is my first one, so I can't really compare it with something else in the market. But I would take a Carvin 7 srin again over any Ibanez. If this were stolen or lost I would surely save some money and order one from Carvin with my specs, most probably the DC727 with active electronics.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Well as I have been mentioning it is an already used guitar, so what I got is the how this guitar actually holds up after several years of use. Even though the problems I described in the previous section were enough to frustrate me in the beginning, they were not something major or unexpected for a 5 to 7 years old guitar. And the previous owner obviously enjoyed and played this guitar a lot. So I would say it can withstand live playing and most of the hardware will last (I mentioned the loose but still functioning pots). What I was surprised is that there is little discolouration on the black hardware. Also even though the fine tuners on the floyd are stiff and not easy to handle the overall quality seems good. It is responsive and you can do all kinds of tricks with the sperzels doing what they are supposed to. The result maybe not as perfect as a locking nut but it is quite close. The finish after the use it has taken holds up really fine. Since it is a floyd guitar I would have a backup but only for that reason. And concerning the strap buttons, well they are Dunlop so yes very sturdy.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Well the action for this guitar was very nice. I know you can setup Carvins very low with no fret buzz, but I preferred to put mine in a reasonable height. The pickups I had to raise a bit since I felt that the sound was not as strong as I expected. Since this guitar was used it had some flaws that the seller didn't specify. There were nothing major, just enough to annoy you when you try to enjoy a new purchase. First problem that I encountered was that the nut came loose (probably from the fact that even though the guitar has a 4 by 3 configuration of tuners the previous owner had all if them tuned in the same direction increasing the tension on the nut). Then the pots were completely loose but still working. The frets were worn a bit at some areas and there were even indentations from the strings at some frets (but oddly enough no strange buzzing, no dead or dying notes) and there were lot of small dings and scratches all over the body that luckily are not so obvious (at least they don't bother me). Finally when I tried to change strings I found out that one of the sperzels was not locking. To correct all this problems I spent around 130$ (or 95 Euros) which didn't make me all that happy. The good thing is that I had very prompt replys and help from Carvin when I asked for replacement parts. They send me the pots and the sperzel tuner in record time and they only charged the sperzel tuner. The case finally is in good working order. The latches work even though one is bit sticky. The case shows signs of use bit is still very solid. The finish of the guitar is very beautiful. It is a stunning to look at even though it is a natural finish. The level of detail in this instrument is impressive but that didn't surprise me since I already own another Carvin (DC400T) and was one of the reasons I chose a 7 string from this company. So in total since this was a used guitar for 5 to 7 years I will put an 8 for the overall state it arrived. I know it could have been a lot worse.
Features — 9
So this is a 2002 or 2004 model made in the US. I bought this guitar used and in a very good price. The guy mentioned the year but I don't remember exactly. It is a neck-through guitar with the carved heal for better access. It has 24 medium jumbo nickel frets, it has a 25.5 inch scale neck with a 14 inch radius. It has a maple neck with an ebony fretboard and no inlays (only side dots), mahogany wings and a figured claro walnut top, with matching headstock. The finish is natural woods with a polyurethane coating for protection. The body style is a superstrat with rounded edges and has licenced floyd tremolo made by Carvin with locking sperzel tuners and no locking nut but with a graphite nut. It also has Dunlop straplocks. It has passive Carvin pickups in a H/S/H configuration with the humbuckers being C26 classic series pickups and the single coil being the AP13. All hardware is in black. It has one volume control, one tone control, a 5 way switch, two coil tap switches for the humbucker and a phase switch. This guitar came with the Carvin Vintage tweed case, the tremolo bar and a strap. The guitar itself is loaded with features as you can see. However being a used guitar and for several years it had some minor problems which I will discuss in the other sections. So as a matter of price paid with features given it takes a 9 (10 if it had an original floyd)