The new Bolt took the best features of many guitars and put them into one. Although there is a physical resemblance to a Fender Stratocaster, it is only a resemblance. The Bolt, called that because it was a bolt-neck guitar, used all the same high-quality materials of Carvin's other guitars and basses, and the same skilled craftsmen made them as made Carvin's top-of-the-line models. Standard features on the Bolt included an alder body, 25 1/2" scale, 22-fret tung-oiled hardrock maple neck with maple headstock overlay, Carvin premium tuners, ebony fingerboard and white multi-layer pickguard. Electronics consisted of 3 rear-mounted AP11 single coil pickups with single volume and tone controls, and a 5-way switch/mini-switch allowing all 7 pickup configurations. The Bolt had a base price of $449, and the Bolt-T, with Wilkinson tremolo, had a base price of $499. The standard array of Carvin options were available, as were Bolt-specific options, such as different colored pickguards. The Fall catalog photo showed a Bolt in with natural tung oiled finish, red tortoise pickguard and black chrome hardware, and a Bolt-T in translucent blue, with maple fingerboard, Sperzel tuners, white pearloid pickguard, C22 bridge pickup and gold hardware. The inset photo showed a Bolt-T in Ruby Red Stain on quilt with matching headstock, black pearloid pickguard and black chrome hardware.
The DC127 and DC135 were unchanged for 1997, and the same photo was used from 1996. The prices increased slightly, starting at $549 for the DC127 and $579 for the DC135. The Fall catalog showed the DC127 in tung-oiled koa with matching headstock and rounded body sides, Wilkinson tremolo and gold hardware. The DC135 was shown in Cherry Sunburst with alder neck, matching headstock and rounded body sides, chrome hardware, and Wilkinson tremolo.
The TL60 was also unchanged for 1997, and the same catalog photo that had been used for several years was used again. Base price increased slightly on the hardtail model to $549, or $599 with Wilkinson tremolo. New optional pickup configurations were added, including DC127-style, DC135-style, and three H60 humbuckers. The Fall catalog photo showed a TL60 in Jet Black with chrome hardware, M22 bridge pickup and Wilkinson tremolo, and in Tobacco Sunburst on quilted maple with gold hardware.
The SC90 got a new tailpiece/bridge assembly in 1997, but was otherwise unchanged. Prices rose slightly on the hardtail model, to $579, while the SC90T with Wilkinson tremolo remained $629, and the SC90C, with Floyd Rose tremolo, remained $669. The new HC11 ABS case was $68, but under the current sale, could be had for free if $70 worth of options were ordered. The HC12 vintage tweed case was $98. A new option package was added in 1997, the Custom Flame Package. This included mahogany neck and body, flamed maple top and matching headstock, rounded body sides and MOP block inlays. This package added $300 to the base price, and could be ordered with abalone block inlays for an additional $60. The catalog showed an SC90 with the Custom Flame Package (Ruby Red Stain), with gold hardware and cream pickups, and an SC90 in classic sunburst with alder neck and body, rounded body sides, cream/black pickups and chrome hardware.
The DC200 and DC400 were unchanged for 1997, and the same catalog photo was used, showing the DC120 and DC400, but not the DC200. The price on the DC200 hardtail rose slightly to $679 ($729 with the Wilkinson, $769 with the Floyd Rose). The DC120 12-string remained as $769. The DC400 hardtail rose slightly to $909 for the base model, or $959 and $999 with the Wilkinson or Floyd Rose tremolo, respectively. The catalog inset photo showed the DC400 Anniversary model, which was a highly upgraded DC400, with 5-piece maple/koa neck, flamed maple top and matching headstock, and 3-piece alder/koa/flamed maple body. It was available as a $200 upgrade to the DC400, DC400T or DC400C. The catalog photo showed the DC120 in Jet Black with rounded body sides, and the DC400 in Vintage Yellow on flamed maple with Wilkinson tremolo and gold hardware.
The Holdsworth was unchanged for 1997, but the prices dropped dramatically. Base price on the H1 was $719 (down from $809), or $769 with Wilkinson tremolo, and the H2 was $769 (down from $859), or $819 with Wilkinson tremolo. The Fall catalog showed the H2T in clear gloss on alder with black headstock, black hardware and Wilkinson tremolo, and the H2 in Black Stain on quilted maple with matching headstock and chrome hardware.
Although Carvin had offered bodies and necks off and on for a few years, as well as other parts, in 1997 the first full-fledged DIY
kits would be offered. These were available in two varieties - the GK1, with FT6 fixed bridge for $319, and the GK1T, with Wilkinson tremolo, for $369.
Other options were available for this bolt-neck kit, such as different pickguards, pickups, and hardware. Bass kits based on the B4 and B5 were also offered.
The price on the BK4 was $339, the BK4A was $399, and the BK5A was $449, and these prices would remain the same for the next 5 years.
These kits would go through a variety of upgrades and modifications as their respective Custom Shop models were updated before eventually being discontinued in 2021.
You can see the original guitar kit instructions here, and the original bass kit
The AE185 got a new cousin for 1997, the AE185-12 (below), which was shown in the catalog. This 12-string had all the accoutrements of the
6-string model. Otherwise, the models were unchanged. The base price of the AE185 remained $799, and the base price of the AE185-12 was $849. The Fall
catalog showed a left-handed AE185 in flamed koa with matching inline headstock, body binding, coil splitters and phase switches and black hardware,
and an AE185-12 with clear gloss flame maple with matching headstock, body binding, and gold hardware.
The AC175 and AC275 remained the same, down to the catalog photo and prices. Base price on the AC175 was $699, and base price on the AC275 was $769. The catalog showed an AC175 with natural spruce top, gold hardware, and inline headstock. The AC275 was shown in Classic Sunburst on flamed maple with body binding and chrome hardware.
The LB20 and LB70 remained the same as the past four years, and the catalog used the same photos as in the '96 catalog. The base prices of both these models remained the same, at $569 and $629. The HC17 ABS case for either model was $78, and the HC18 vintage tweed hardshell case for either model was $108, although the HC17 was offered for free with $80 in options on any bass.
The BB75 was also unchanged for '97, as was the BB70, which was still not pictured in the catalog. The LB75 was unchanged as well. The inset photo in the catalog also shows another new option for Carvin basses, the 5-piece neck, in several combinations of wood, which made for a much stronger, more stable neck. Prices on the BB75 and LB75 were the same as '94 & '95, at $799 and $699. The new BB70 had a base price of $729. The HC17 ABS case for either model was $78, and the HC18 vintage tweed hardshell case for either model was $108.
The LB76 was also unchanged for 1997, but the catalog had a new photo, showing the rounded body side option that was introduced the previous year. The price on the LB76 was unchanged at $799.
The LB76A and it's 4 and 5-string counterparts were also unchanged, and despite the passing of the 50th anniversary, the model continued to be popular. Prices on these models went up slightly, to $1129 (LB70), $1199 (LB75) and $1299 (LB76). The HC17 ABS case for either model was $78, and the HC18 vintage tweed hardshell case for either model was $108.
The AC40 and AC50 were now a year old, and going strong. Options and features were unchanged, but they did get a new catalog photo, showing in particular the Koa headstock overlay that was available. The base price on the AC40 was $699, and the base price on the AC50 was $769. The HC18 was the only case available for these models.