In the 1950s, Carvin offered more steel guitar models than the then-new electric guitars that were taking the music business by storm. The Model #19 lap steel guitar was a basic lap steel, with a plastic covered hardwood body, and a 22 1/2" scale fingerboard that was probably some type of plastic. Other features included a single pickup with chrome plated cover and single volume and tone controls. The Model #19 sold for $28.90, and the optional case was $6.90. The Model #50 lap steel was similar in physical size to the Model #19, and also had a 22 1/2" scale fingerboard, but the body was more sculpted, and the fingerboard inlays were more elaborate. The pickup, electronics and hardware were the same as the Model #19. The Model #50 sold for $39.00, and the case was $7.90.
The Model #605 and Model #805 lap steel guitars were Carvin's higher-end models for 1954. They were made with hardwood beech bodies and 22 1/2" scale Lucite fingerboards. The tuner buttons were ivory, and the hardware was chrome. Each had an A-1 non-adjustable alnico pickup, with single volume and tone controls. The Model #605 was a 6-string model, and the #805 was an 8-string model. The Model #605 sold for $59.90 and the Model #805 was $75.00. Either could be upgraded with an AP-Series adjustable pickup for an additional $10.00. The optional case was $8.90. Either model could be ordered in kit form, as well. The kit included everything needed - hardware, fingerboard, electronics, etc., less the body.
Carvin offered an assortment of double-, triple-, and quad-neck steel guitars in 1954, in 6 and 8 string variations. All models had beech bodies with Lucite fingerboards, and A-Series non-adjustable pickups standard. The tuner buttons were ivory, and the hardware was chrome. The doubleneck models had top-mounted volume and tone controls and a 3-way neck selector, while the tripleneck and quad-neck models had side-mounted master volume and tone controls and on/off switches for each neck. The 6-string Model #6605 sold for $89.90, and the 8-string Model #8805 sold for $119.90. The Model #8880 tripleneck sold for $159.90, and the Model #888805 quad-neck sold for $219.00. All models were available with upgraded AP-Series adjustable pickups, and options such as screw-in legs and cases were offered. The double- and tripleneck models were also offered in kit form, with all components except the body.
The Model 6 was also an arch-top design, with spruce top and curly maple back. It had a rosewood fingerboard and bridge, and had body binding as well as neck binding and a bone nut. Electronics consisted of a pair of alnico pickups, with pickup selector switch and volume and tone controls. The price on the Model 6 was $99.90, or $65.90 for the Model 90 non-electric version. Case for either was $15.00.
Carvin's only solid-body electric for 1954 was the Model H4. This guitar was made from "hardwood" (possibly maple) with a 25 1/4" scale rosewood fingerboard and bridge, and a pair of pickups with volume and tone controls and a slide-selector switch. The finish was considered "copper-bronze". This model sold for $59.90, plus $7.90 for the case.
The Model 44 Spanish electric flattop was unusual - it was essentially an acoustic guitar with a pickup and controls added. The top was spruce, with mahogany neck, back and sides and body binding. The fingerboard was rosewood, as was the bridge, which had bone saddles. Price on the Model 44 was $59.90, or $36.90 for the Model 65 acoustic version. Also offered was the Model 12 tenor guitar and it's acoustic version, the Model 17. No details were given on either tenor model, but presumably, they were shorter-scale instruments tuned to a higher pitch. Both tenor models sold for the same price as their standard counterparts, and a case for any of these was $9.90.
Carvin sold mandolins and even banjos throughout the fifties. The Model 6512 electric mandolin was constructed with an arched birch front and back, celluloid binding and pickguard and had a gloss finish. It was equipped with a single pickup, with volume and tone controls. This instrument sold for $59.90, and the Model 1735 non-electric mandolin sold for $35.00. Case for either was $7.00. The Model 504T tenor banjo, which had a curly maple body with resonator and rosewood fingerboard with inlaid position markers. It sold for $49.90, and was also available in a non-tenor model, the Model 504, for the same price.
In 1954, you could buy an electric bass from Carvin, but it would say "Fender" on the headstock. Early in Carvin's history, they were authorized resellers for a number of other manufacturers, including Fender, Martin and DeArmond. In this case, Carvin offered a now-cherished Precision Bass, in natural finish with maple neck and black pickguard. This bass sold for $199.50, and a Fender hardshell case was an additional $39.95. Other Fender products offered in the Carvn catalog included the Telecaster and Esquire electric guitars (the Esquire was a single-pickup Tele) for the princely sum of $189.50 and 149.50, respectively. A variety of Fender single neck, double neck and triple neck steel guitars were also available, as were a couple of early Fender amplifiers.
Martin guitars were also sold in the Carvin catalog, in a number of different models in concert, grand concert, dreadnaught and auditorium sizes. Prices ranged from $65.00 for the #0-15 Concert Guitar to $210.00 for the #D-28 Dreadnaught.
If you wanted an accordion, Carvin could also help you out. These accordions were made by a "famous Italian manufacturer", most likely Sonola (which were featured by name in Carvin catalogs in the 1960s). Pricing ranged from $284.00 to $420.00, making them the most expensive items in Carvin's 1954 catalog. Noteably, the $420.00 Model 156 accordion would sell for $4353.00 in 2021 dollars.
Carvin offered an assortment of parts so hobbyists could build their own guitars. You could order just about everything you needed for a Hawaiian lap steel guitar, including a beech body. There were also basic parts for "Spanish" guitars offered, including oval rosewood fingerboards and bridges. An assortment of DeArmond acoustic transducer pickups and other accessories were available in 1954, including the Rhythm Chief. Various DeArmond gear would be featured in Carvin catalogs throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Other add-on acoustic transducer electric pickups for acoustic guitars were featured, including the the Model 3 AT, which was was used on instruments with an F-hole, and the Model 2 RH was used on instruments with a round soundhole.