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All user reviews for the Carvin DC135

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Average Score:4.8( 4.8/5 based on 8 reviews )
 6 reviews75 %
 2 reviews25 %
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tjon901's review"HSS guitar made to your specs"

Carvin DC135
Carvin is a well known company in the music industry in America. They make just about everything you need to put on a live show. Their PA equipment is some of the best out there. They also make custom guitars in the same factories. Carvin has been hand making guitars in the USA for 30 years. Every guitar they make is made to order and sold directly by them. There is no middle man when it comes to Carvin guitars and this allows them to give everyone factory direct prices. They save the cost of selling to suppliers and pass the savings on to the customer. The customer is able to customize any part of their guitar and get any kind of wood or electronics configuration they want. The DC135 was introduced in 1990 and is Carvins most popular model. You can get pretty much any wood you want with this guitar but the standard options are still great. Standard the DC135 comes with an alder body with a maple neck through design. The neck comes standard with a ebony fretboard with the 25 inch Carvin scale. My model had a tune o matic bride with a string through stop tail. There are options for tremolos that include a Floyd Rose or a Wilkinson non locking tremolo. It had the C22 pickup in the bridge and two AP11 pickups in the neck and middle for an HSS configuration with a splittable bridge pickup.


Carvins offer great playability on their guitars. They are handmade and well setup from the factory and when the frets and radius are to your specs you do not have much of an excuse when you dont like the guitar. The neck through construction means that you have no neck joint heel. The cutaways are deep and you can easily reach up into the highest frets. The neck radius and fret size and material are all selected by the user. You can have a fretless wonder Gibson fretboard or a super flat fretboard with extra jumbo stainless steel frets. It is all up to you. One thing that I have noticed with Carvins is that when you select the option for the Floyd Rose the option of a locking nut is not automatically selected. I have seen many useless Carvins for sale second hand because the original purchaser forgot to select a locking nut with their Floyd Rose. Another thing to be aware of if you start loading up with optional electronics you may be better off buying a higher level model that comes with those electronics as standard instead of buffing up a lower model.


The Carvin pickups are pretty average when compared to the rest of the great guitar. They are decent for the basics but if you are playing a more specialized type of music you will need more specialized pickups. The single coils are pretty good and they have good clarity without being honky or super bright. They are pretty mellow when it comes to single coils. The humbucker in the bridge is pretty mediocre when it comes to output. You will not be knocking any walls down with this pickup. It doesnt have much output but at the same time it does not sound vintage or anything. It is a strange combination of modern sound but vintage output. There is a reason most Carvins you see used have after market pickups in them.


Carvin is a great custom guitar builder and you can pretty much get whatever you want from them based on their models. When this HSS custom guitar you can get much of your strat sounds with the added versatility of a humbucker in the bridge. If you want more of a strat tone they make bolt on strat style custom guitars. This guitar with its neck through construction will never nail the strat tone but with this pickup setup you can get close.

Hatsubai's review"HSS neck-thru"

Carvin DC135
The Carvin DC135 is the HSS (or SSS) version of the neck-thru DC series. These are very affordable, made in the USA guitars that are semi-customizable to your tastes. The one I played had the following specs:

25'' scale length
Alder body
Maple neck with ebony fretboard
12'' radius
Tung-oil finish
HSS configuration
Floyd Rose
Sperzel locking tuners
One volume, one tone, 5 way switch


Carvin always does a wonderful job when it comes to building guitars, especially for the price. The fretwork on these models are great. The back of the neck feels awesome thanks to the tung oil finish. It's never sticky like so many other finishes out there. The 12'' radius makes is great for both chording and soloing, and the neck thickness seems to be just about perfect. The upper fret access is a breeze thanks to it being a neck-thru model. On top of that, it's extremely versatile thanks to its pickup configuration.


This is where they can be a bit hit or miss, and it's mostly due to the stock pickups. The singles aren't too bad. In fact, they're pretty good. You can get a nice chime out of them, and they create a very cool quack sound in the 2 and 4 positions. However, the humbucker can leave a bit to be desired. It's not that it's bad, but there are better pickups out there. Thankfully, its configuration makes this very versatile, so you should be able to play just about any genre with this.


If you're looking for a good Carvin HSS model, check out one of these. I recommend trying to find a used one on eBay instead of buying new simply due to the massive amount of money you lose if you were to ever sell these guitars. Also, I recommend a pickup swap.
MGR/Drew Lankford (AKA FastRedPonyCar)07/19/2005

MGR/Drew Lankford (AKA FastRedPonyCar)'s review"Carvin DC135"

Carvin DC135
Was looking for a good solid body to replace my parker night fly. The parker was phenomenal and left big shoes to fill. The DC135 sounded better and played better than the parker (not quite as good as the standard flys but better than the bolt on niteflys) and the carvin was very well priced.

I ordered a custom shop 135 and it is absolutely incredible. I've played a few Charvel neck through USA san dimas guitars and aside from different pickups, this carvin is equal or better to the $1500 charvels and much better than any Ibanez (with the exception of the JEM but I still think it plays better than the overpriced JEM).

The neck is by far the best neck I've ever played with the exception of the parker fly. I played so many $1500+ guitars and wasn't satisifed or either they were too expensive. The carvin's neck is so fast and the action is rediculously low. The neck through construction is incredible and the sustain goes for DAYS. The wood quality is excellent and the craftmanship is flawless. I thoroughly insepcted the instrument for flaws and couldn't find any.

The guitar also sounds awesome. The carvin pickups are equal in sound quality to anything seymour duncan produces. I'm convinced that you simply can't find a better playing/crafted/sounding/looking instrument for under $1000. Believe me..I've looked high and low and lost count of how many expensive factory produced guitars I've tried in my search.

The volume knob had sort of a scratchy sound. I called carvin that afternoon and they sent a replacement knob for free priority shipping and also credited my bank account $25 to have my shop switch out the pot. That's what I call customer service! turns out the pot just had some dust in it. They sprayed some compressed air in it and it was quiet as a mouse and I had a free volume pot left over for any future need!

Aside from that, I have no complaints about the instrument, the wiring is top notch, fretwork is perfect, wood grain is magnificent and it plays like a dream.

Top notch. As I mentioned earlier, I inspected this thing high and low and everything was perfect. The paint/clearcoat was perfect, wiring was perfect and very clean and tidy and the intonation and tuning was spot on right out of the case off the UPS truck.

Bottom line is that these instruments sound, look, and play like custom hand built instruments and are priced at a fraction of the cost of your typical Gibson, fender, PRS, ETC.

I played several thousand dollar PRS's, gibsons, top of the line fenders, Ibanez, jackson, you name it and wasn't satisifed with any of them. Most of them were grossly overpriced for what you get and others just plain didn't sound good or play well for what the price tag said. It felt like I would have been paying for the name on the headstock rather than the instrument that was attached to the headstock.

I left the stores empty handed and turned to carvin after reading all the stellar reviews. They have a 10 day love it or leave it policy since you can't usually find them in stores unless they're used. I knew the minute I opened the case that it was a keeper. That was before I even held or played it!

Do yourself a favor and try one. If you don't absolutely fall in love with it, just send it back for a full refund.

Check out my 135 here.

This review was originally published on
MGR/Epi Fan.01/11/2004

MGR/Epi Fan.'s review"Carvin DC-135"

Carvin DC135
I bought this beaut at a pawn shop for $200!

I couldn't resist the sweet price on this fabulous piece!

I love the construction of the thing.
It's heavy, but that's all right with me.
The pickups smoke!

The finish was redone.

Quality is simply outstanding!

This guitar is perfect for hard rock.
My only complaint is that it doesn't work as well for jazz or country.

For that I play my trusty Strat or Les Paul.

Anyway, I highly recommend Carvin guitars!

This review was originally published on
MGR/Epi Fan.11/16/2003

MGR/Epi Fan.'s review"Carvin DC 135"

Carvin DC135
I found this unit at local used music
store. I paid $400.

Everything! First of all, it's hand crafted.
The neck position pickup is awesome.
It reminds of a top of the line Jackson.
It has a little bit of a Gibson vibe as well. Kinda like a Les Paul double cutaway.

Like I said, I like everything about it.

It's rare to find a hand crafted guitar for under $1000.
I have plenty of hand assembled guitars that play well.
However, there is something to a hand made instrument.
It has an uncannily solid feel.

This is the finest solid body electric guitar that I own.
I am lucky to have found it.
To anyone considering buying a Carvin,
don't hesitate. Buy one now!

This review was originally published on

MGR/Brian's review"Carvin DC135"

Carvin DC135
I got this guitar from a friend and former bandmate of mine at church. I bought it because it was the most beautiful electric guitar I had ever seen and because it had such a good sound. I bought it for $700. It was originally purchased brand new from the Carvin factory for $1300.

I like evrything single thing about this guitar. The neck action is so low and so fast. I can get nearly any sound out of this guitar that I want to. It has a bridge humbucker and 2 single coils. The humbucker gives a very fat, full, rich tone(distortion or no distortion), and the single coils are so clean and clear sounding. No noise from any of the pickups(no matter how much overdrive you put on it). The humbucker also has a switch that turns it into a single coil. Very useful for getting Stratocaster or Telecaster sounds. The neck through body design gives incredible sustain and makes it so much more easy to play. The tremolo is the best I've seen. Stays in tune better than any Floyd Rose(you can even get a Floyd Rose or a fixed bridge if you want to). The tilt back headstock design eliminates the need for a tuning tree like on Strats and Telecasters, which results in excellent tuning. Not only does it have 24 frets but the action at the 24th fret is just as low and easy to play as it is at the 3rd or 5th fret. That gives you more things to play so you dont just stay in the first 8 or 9 frets and get boring with your playing(I find myself doing that when I play other guitars). Intonation is perfect. Play a note anywhere on the fretboard and it will be perfectly in tune. There will never be any need to adjust your neck or anything else on the guitar (like you have to do with Strats and Les Pauls many times)because the technicians at the Carvin factory guarantee that they have set everything to where it is the easiest possible to play. Intonation, action, truss rod, string saddles, pick up height and everything are already set up to the best possible specifications. Another one of the best things is that you custom order a Carvin direct from the factory. There are hundreds of options that you can add(pickups, tremolos, colors, finishes,electronic options like switches and tuners). They are a true "custom guitar". They make the guitar for you exactly how you want it.

There is absolutely nothing I do not like.

The quality is top notch. There is no higher quality.

It will always amaze me why people love Strats, Telecasters and Les Pauls so much(most of them have never played a Carvin). It will always amaze me why people spend so much money for them. If you're paying $1500-$4,000 for a Les Paul or $300-$2,000 for a Stratocaster or Telecaster then you're getting ripped off. Carvin takes all the most popular designs of guitars and improves them dramatically. They make PRS style guitars, Les Paul style guitars, Strat and Telecaster syle guitars all with major improvements on things where those other guitars are lacking. Many of the things they've improved you don't even realize until you own a Carvin. Carvins are the best. They are all I'll ever play. Go to and custom order you a guitar or bass and try it out for 10 days(they give you 10 days to try it out from the time you get it till the time you send it back and if you don't like it after 10 days they'll give your money back) and see if you ever go back to playing other guitars. I don't think you will. I sure didn't.

This review was originally published on

MGR/Remedy's review"Carvin DC135"

Carvin DC135
Carvin Direct Custom Shop


I had been looking at Fender American Hardtail Strats, but I wanted a humbucking bridge pickup.
At almost $200 less than the Fender (not counting the additional hum p/u) the DC135 is a steal.
Carvin even set up the guitar for my preferred gauge of strings (011).

The C22 Humbucker is not quite as sweet as I'd like, but with what the $200 saved, I could
buy almost 4 Seymour Duncan JB's. C22 is not a bad sounding p/u, I'm just spoiled with the JB.

Excellent construction and finish - neck through = sustain!!!!

Carvin may not have the resale value of a Fender, but in quality, features, and value
the DC135 can't be beat. If I buy another guitar, Carvin will be the first place I look.

This review was originally published on

MGR/Anonymous's review"Carvin DC-135"

Carvin DC135
I ordered the instrument directly from Carvin. I paid $850 for this custom made instrument.

The quality and the craftsmanship of the instrument is amazing. The electronics, playability and overall quality of this guitar is truly remarkable for the price I paid. I was looking at PRS, high end Fenders and Gibsons, but for the price and quality, Carvin takes the cake.

I had to wait 5 weeks for the guitar to be built and delivered. It was however, delivered 2 weeks earlier than promised.

Neck through the body. Neck is thin with rosewood fretboard. I choose Koa for the wood and the finish is flawless. Hardware was gold color and very sound. Electronics are flawless. Outstanding.

For the value you get, anyone looking at buying a higher line instrument, has to look at Carvin. For the money, I don't think you can find a better instrument.

this review was originally published on