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.
Offered in 1990 only, the BC130 was the first Carvin bolt-neck guitar offered in more than 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 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 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. 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 X220 would only last through the '92 model year, but would be reintroduced in 2015.
The Ultra V 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 in the catalog) 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 indicates that on the DN640, the bass was only available on top, versus on the bottom, as the 80s 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. Also shown was a DC127 translucent green finish, black chrome hardware, and V headstock, and a DC125, in a left-handed configuration.
Carvin offered a wide variety of pickups in 1990, both installed and for separate purchase. There were 3 models in the M22 Series: the M22T (bridge), M22N (neck)
and M22SD (bridge). Also available were the H60N (neck) and H60T (bridge) stacked humbuckers, and the S11N (neck) and S11T (bridge) single-coil pickups. The new
A500 active electronics module had an entire page devoted to their design and specs.
The catalog had 4 insert pages on lighter paper, and in black and white, that included price lists (guitar prices were not shown on the individual pages), as well as options and pricing, parts and pricing, and an order form.
The LB20 and LB70 were the standard basses of the Carvin line in 1990. These were basically the same instrument, with the LB20 featuring passive electronics, and the LB70 sporting the upgraded active electronics. Both were available left-handed or righty, and included options such as a Kahler bass tremolo, fretless fingerboard (with or without fretlines), and an upgrade from the standard chrome hardware to gold or black chrome. Standard colors on these (and all other 1990 basses) were black, white, red, pearl white, pearl red, pearl deep blue, clear maple, and tung oil koa. Surprisingly, there was no upcharge for tung oil koa, despite the increasing cost of koa wood. The base price of the LB20 was $519, and the LB70 started at $599.
In 1990, 5-string basses were still considered somewhat of a novelty, but Carvin had been making them for a couple of years, and was one of few mainstream manufacturers to offer this feature. The LB75 offered all the same features and options of the LB70, including fretless models, lefties, Kahler tremolo and all the colors and woods. Base price on this $649.
The LB80 & LB85 were Carvin's high-end bass models in 1990. This was basically an LB70 (or LB75), with certain options standard. Any of the available translucent colors with a bookmatched grade A maple top was standard. Other options were available, including lefties, fretless and so forth. An interesting feature of this was a built-in headphone amp, so you could plug headphones directly into the bass. Base price on the LB80 was $799, and the LB85 was $849. Both models would only be offered in 1989 and 1990, and would be discontinued when flamed tops and other options were added to the LB70 and LB75.