There were three different catalogs in 1990. One was pro audio, one was guitar and bass amplifiers and electronics, and the other was guitars and basses (cover pictured at left). 1990 saw Carvin's basses and guitars hitting their stride, with their neck-through design beginning to proliferate throughout the music world. The 80's were past, and so were the neon colors, although the very 80's Ultra V and X220 were still available, and Carvin was beginning to add different custom finishes and woods to the line, and this would pave the way for the numerous options available today.
There were two significant changes to the guitar lineup in 1990. First, and most relevant, was the use of poplar wood as the main body wood. Maple had been used for may years, but the consensus was that poplar was lighter and had better tonal characteristics. Second, both Kahler tremolos had been dropped, in favor of a Carvin-licensed Floyd Rose tremolo (which was actually manufactured by Schaller).
There were two new models for 1990, both of which would appear for this year only: the BC130 and the DC300. Although the DC300 wouldn't last, a comparable model could be built from a DC135, since the electronics were the same, and the only real difference was the upscale finish on the DC300.
The 1990 catalog was probably the best-photographed catalog Carvin had produced, with large, vividly-colored pictures on high quality paper.
Click each picture for a larger version.
Offered in 1990 only, the BC130 was the first Carvin bolt-neck guitar offered in over 10 years. Evidently designed to compete with Jackson and Fender, this model still sported the high-end features of other Carvin guitars, including a 22-fret ebony fingerboard, MOP dot inlays and recessed Carvin-licensed Floyd Rose tremolo. The body was made of poplar, as were all Carvin guitars and basses in 1990, and the 25 1/2" scale neck was made from rock maple. Options were limited on this model, but included black, white, red, or pearl deep blue finishes, natural satin koa, black or gold hardware (chrome was standard), and reverse inline headstock. Electronics consisted of one M22 humbucker and two H60 stacked humbuckers, master volume and tone controls, and 7-way pickup selector switch. Base price on the BC130 was $569, and the hardshell case for this model, and all other models for 1990 (excluding doublenecks) was $70.
The spartan DC125 was Carvin's lowest cost guitar for 1990. Not that the construction or quality was any less than other Carvins; it simply had less accoutrements, and therefore, cost less to produce. This model was probably also geared towards the Jackson faithful, as Jackson had some success with their single-pickup models in the late 80's and early 90's. However, comparably priced Jacksons (and other guitars) were generally produced overseas, and used lesser-quality material in their construction.
The DC125 was made of poplar, with rock maple neck, ebony fingerboard and MOP dot inlays. Electronics consisted of a single volume control and dual-to-single coil switch, and an M22SD humbucker. You could choose from a Carvin-licensed Floyd Rose tremolo, or a standard stop tailpiece. All the other options of the Carvin line were available, including black or gold hardware, a variety of finishes, reverse headstock, left-handed and much more. The base price on the DC125 was $469, or $569 with the double-locking Carvin-licensed Floyd Rose tremolo.
Not pictured in the catalog was the DC127, which was the same as the DC125, with dual humbuckers, tone control and 3-way pickup selector switch. It was offered for $519 with stop tailpiece, or $619 with tremolo.
The DC135 (above) was treated to a two-page spread in the 1990 catalog. This guitar was designed for the player who liked the electronics configuration of the BC130 (and other manufacturer's 3-pickup guitars), but wanted neck-thru design and a full compliment of options. Additionally, at 24.75", the scale length was shorter than the BC130. The catalog showed the DC135 in optional satin koa, but poplar body sides and rock maple neck was standard. Electronics consisted of one M22 humbucker and two H60 stacked humbuckers, master volume and tone controls, and on/off switches for each pickup (a 5-way switch was optional). All the options of Carvin's complete line were available on the DC135, including choice of bridge/tailpiece, headstock, finish and hardware plating. The base price on the DC135 was $569, or $669 with tremolo.
The DC145 also bore some resemblance to the Jackson Performer series, but with higher quality materials and construction. It was a 3-pickup model, using an M22 in the neck position, M22SD in the bridge position, and H60 in the center, selectable by a 5-position level switch, with master volume control and dual-to-single coil switch. Body construction was the same as other models, and all options were available. The reverse inline headstock was standard. Base price on the DC145 was $599, or $699 with tremolo.
The DC200 continued going strong, having been in production since 1981. The body shape and construction was the same as other DC models, but the DC200 used a pair of M22 pickups, with the A500 active electronics module. Controls knobs were master volume, treble and bass, and pickup pan control. Also included in the A500 package were bright and deep switches, and phase switch, and a 3-way pickup selector. Abalone block inlays were standard on the ebony fingerboard, and this model had the same 24.75" scale of the other DC models. All other options were available. The DC200 sold for a base price of $669, or $769 with tremolo.
The DC300 was essentially an upscale DC135. Electronics were the same, as was the body material and construction, but this model was topped with a standard grade A bookmatched flamed maple top, in sapphire blue, vintage yellow, emerald green or cherry sunburst. MOP block inlays were also standard, even though the catalog photo showed this model with dot inlays. The base price of the DC300 was $769, or $869 with tremolo.
The DC400 (above) was the top-of-the-line guitar for 1990. This guitar was fully loaded with exotic options, which at the time was very unusual. The body and neck were made from solid curly koa, and it was topped with grade AA flamed maple on the body and headstock. Abalone block inlays were standard, as were your choice of hardware finish. Electronics were the same as the DC200, with M22 pickups driven by the A500 active electronics module. The DC400 was surprisingly pricey, especially compared to today's models - the base price was $1329, or $1429 with Carvin-licensed Floyd Rose tremolo.
New for 1990 was the successor to the V220 guitar, which used the same basic shape, but with the scalloped edges of the Ultra V. This second-generation exotic was dubbed the X220 (above). It used the same construction materials of other Carvin guitars, and had the same scale length. Electronics consisted of an M22 pickup in the neck position, and an M22SD in the bridge position, with master volume and tone controls, pickup selector switch, and coil splitters for each pickup. All other options were available, including a left-handed model. Base price on the X220 was was $569, or $669 with tremolo.
The Ultra V (above) remained unchanged from 1989, and was in it's 4th year of production. It had the same electronics as the X220, but the phase switches were optional. All other options were available. Base price on the Ultra V was $529, or $629 with tremolo.
The control layout for the DN612 & DN640 (not shown) changed from 1989, with the elimination of the 3 mini-switches found on each neck of the '89 model. Additionally, the neck selector switch was moved to a more logical position between the necks, versus under the lower neck. The use of poplar also made this model lighter than previous DN models, which used maple for the body wings. All doubleneck models sold for a base price of $1149. Of note, the price list (below) indicates that on the DN640, the bass was only available on top, versus on the bottom, as the 80's DN640's were.
To illustrate some of the more cosmetically significant options, the catalog showed a few option-equipped instruments. Most interesting is the DC200 on the far left, which had the "ST" option - modified Strat-style body with rounded horns. This one also has the traditional 3X3 headstock, black chrome hardware, and no inlays on the fingerboard. In the center is a DC127 translucent green finish, black chrome hardware, and V headstock. On the right is a DC125, in a left-handed model.
As in previous years, the catalog featured photographs and details of the construction techniques and features of their guitars.
Here is the control layout and technical specs on the A500 active electronics for the '90 models. Click on the picture to view the entire catalog page with a complete description of the A500 active electronics package.
Finally, to see the complete price list for guitars, basses, options, accessories and so on for 1990, click here.