The most obvious change on all Carvin guitars and basses for 1977 was the addition of chrome pickup covers on all AP-series pickups. This one feature makes it easy to identify a 1977 model - the '76 models had black pickups (without covers), and in 1978, the new 22-pole M22 pickups would be introduced. Therefore, any Carvin guitar or bass with chrome pickup covers is a 1977 model. In addition to the pickups covers, a new tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece were put into use in 1977. Although not specified in the catalog, these were most likely made by Schaller.
The DC150 moved into 1977 relatively unchanged. It did sport the new chrome pickup covers on APH-6S pickups, and the new bridge/tailpiece, but it had the same body shape and neck features. The electronics changed slightly, with a 3-knob layout (versus the 4-knob layout of 1976) that included volume controls for each pickup and master tone and updated knobs. Coil splitters and phase switch were standard, as was a 3-way pickup selector switch and stereo wiring. Lastly, the strap button was moved from the tip of the upper horn to the neck plate. The DC150 was offered in black for the first time with a maple fingerboard as the DC150B or in clear with a maple fingerboard (DC150C). Either model was $339.00. A left-handed model was offered (DC150L) which had a clear finish and maple fingerboard, and sold for $349.00. A Bigsby vibrato could be added for $40.00. The HC10 hardshell case was $41.00.
The CM130 and CM140 were based on the CM96 from 1976. However, these models had the same changes as the DC150 - pickup covers, a 3-knob layout, and new bridge/tailpiece. The CM130 used the Hofner #820 neck with rosewood fingerboard, and had more simplified electronics consisting of a phase switch in addition to the pickup volume, tone and selector controls. The CM140 used the Hofner #860 neck with ebony fingerboard and mother-of-pearl headstock and block inlays. It was stereo wired (schematic), with coil splitters in addition to the pickup controls. The necks on both models were made by Hofner, and the headstock inlays were the same as the ones used by Hofner. The CM130 has a decal resembling a sword, with a decal Carvin logo with MOP dot inlays; the CM140 has an MOP inlaid Carvin logo with the double-diamond logo that would be used until the late 1980's (and is still used by Hofner to this day). Essentially, the higher quality neck with an ebony fingerboard used in the MOP inlays, while the rosewood fingerboarded-neck used decals. The CM130 sold for $249.00, and the HC11 hardshell case was an additional $41.00. It could be ordered with a Bigsby vibrato for an additional $40.00. There was no left-handed model offered, and it was only available in clear. The CM140 was $359.00 in black or clear finishes, and was offered in a left-handed model for #369.00. A Bigsby could also be ordered for it.
The DT650 doubleneck 12/6 string was completely redesigned for 1977. It had a larger body, and more conventional controls, which consisted of a master volume and master tone control with phase switching and coil splitters for each neck. The ebony necks had white binding and mother-of-pearl block inlays. It was offered in black (DT650B) for $569.00, or in Birdseye maple (DT650C) for $569.00. Like the DT650, the DB630 bass/6-string doubleneck was dramatically different than the '76 model. The bass neck was moved to the bottom, so that the instrument would be better balanced, and the body itself was wider. Each neck had a master volume and master tone control with phase switching and coil splitters. The bolt-on maple necks had ebony fretboards with MOP block inlays and white binding. It was offered in a clear finish on birdseye maple (DB630C) or black on standard maple (DB630B) - either model was $539.00, plus $51.00 for the HC19 hardshell case.
The photo below appeared on the back cover of the 1977 catalog. It shows Jon Kiesel (left) and current Kiesel Guitars president Mark Kiesel (right) with
an assortment of Carvin guitars and basses from 1976.
Carvin offered 3 bass models, as well as a doubleneck guitar/bass model in 1977. Two of these were new models (which replaced other models), and one, the LB70, had some minor changes. The SB61 and the CB100 were both discontinued after only one year, although the CB100 would reappear in 1978. All Carvin basses in 1977 also had the same chrome pickup covers as the guitars.
The SB120 bass featured a bound short-scale 30" rosewood fretboard, dot markers and dual APH4 pickups with dual volume controls, master tone control, pickup selector switch and phase switch. Tuners were Schaller #M4S jumbos, and the bridge was a Carvin tune-o-matic (probably also made by Schaller). It was only offered in a clear finish, and sold for $249.00, plus $46.00 for the HC15 hardshell case.
The SB125 stereo bass was basically the same as the SB120, with upgraded features such as an ebony fingerboard with mother-of-pearl block inlays and headstock inlay. Electronics upgrades consisted of coil splitters for each APH4S pickup, and stereo wiring. It was offered in black (SB125B) or clear (SB125C) for $339.00, and in a black left-handed model (SB125L) for $349.00. Like the guitars, the more expensive SB125 had the inlaid double-diamond headstock inlay, and the SB120 had the sword-style decal logo.
The LB70 bass was one of the longest-running model designations used by Carvin. The LB70 model name debuted in 1976, disappeared from 1978 - 1987, was reintroduced in 1988, and finally retired for good in 2021. Like the initial 1976 model, this bass was similar to the Fender Precision, especially the headstock. The neck was the same scale length as a Fender Precision bass (34") and the body shape is also very similar. It was equipped with two APH8 pickups with dual volume and tone controls, phase switching and 3-way pickup selector. Coil splitters and stereo wiring were optional. Other features included an oval rosewood fingerboard with binding and Schaller #M4SL tuners. It was offered in black (LB70B; the model shown in the catalog) for $259.00, or in black with coil splitters and stereo wiring (LB70SB) or clear with coil splitters and stereo wiring (LB70SC) for $299.00. To accomodate the additional switches and second jack, the stereo models only had 3 controls; two volume and one tone. The HC17 hardshell case was $46.00.
The LB70SB below is owned by the Curator, and appeared in Vintage Guitar in July 2011. Click the picture for a larger version.
The ads in the gallery above appeared in the January 1977 issue of Guitar Player (black and white) and the April 1977 issue of Guitar Player. Interestingly,
Carvin referred to itself in these ads as "Carvin Systems Engineering".