2003 GUITARS

There was a significant change to the marketing in mid-2003. Since the inception of the smaller, quarterly catalogs, guitars and basses had been shown on relatively neutral backgrounds, primarily using earth tones or plain white. In mid-2003, this changed to a flashy computer generated black background, giving a high-tech, modern appearance to Carvin's guitars and basses. This would appear in one catalog only, and would lead up to the return of the large-format 8 1/2" X 11" catalog in 2004. In conjunction with the new catalog layout, Carvin's website also featured new guitar pictures on a similar computer-generated black background (shown throughout below). For the first time, the catalog and website layouts matched and complimented each other, and gave a fresh, new appearance to both. Carvin discontinued showing photographs of In-Stock instruments on their website in mid-2003, however, the In-Stock images were re-added after several months in response to customer's requests.

All new for 2003 was the Contour 66, also known as the C66. This 22-fret bolt neck guitar had an alder body with maple neck, and standard AAAA flamed maple top with matching headstock, ebony fingerboard, Sperzel locking tuners and direct-mounted C22 pickups, with single volume and tone controls and 5-way pickup selector. The name came from the model's most interesting feature - the contoured upper bout, allowing for a more comfortable playing position. The base price was $829, and it was also available with the Wilkinson tremolo for $869, or with a Floyd Rose for $929. The Summer catalog showed a close up of a C66C in Sunsetburst on flame with a Floyd Rose tremolo; and a C66 in Cherry Sunburst on quilt with matching headstock, Fishman acoustic bridge with active electronics, abalone block inlays and gold hardware; and a C66T in Sapphire Blue on quilt with matching headstock, abalone dot inlays and gold hardware.

The Bolt and Bolt-T were unchanged, but the prices did increase somewhat. The new base price of the Bolt was $589, and the Bolt-T was $629. The catalog photo showed a Bolt in Sapphire Blue on swamp ash with Sperzel locking tuners, white pearloid pickguard and C22 bridge humbucker. The Bolt-T was shown in Seafoam Green with Sperzel locking tuners and maple fingerboard.

New for 2003, and only shown in the Winter catalog was the Bolt Plus (also known as the Bolt+). This new instrument combined the shape of the Bolt, with the rear-routed electronics of the Contour, eliminating the pickguard. The base price on the Bolt+ was $625. The Winter catalog photo showed the Bolt+ in Classic White with black hardware, and in Blueburst with chrome hardware and Wilkinson tremolo.

The DC127 and DC135, were unchanged for 2003, and had similar price increases as other models. Base price on both models was $669, and Wilkinson-equipped models started at $709. The Floyd Rose-equipped models started at $769. The catalog showed the DC127 in koa with blackburst edges and matching headstock, rounded body sides, abalone block inlays, and black hardware. The DC135 was shown in Sunsetburst on swamp ash with matching headstock, rounded body sides, Birdseye maple fingerboard, cream AP11 pickups with 5-way switch and gold hardware.

The TL60 was unchanged, but the Crowe Option Package wasn't mentioned, although it was most likely still available, and even if it wasn't, a TL60 could still be had with the features of the Crowe Package. The base price on the TL60 jumped up, to $659 (from $589 in 2002), and the Wilkinson-equipped model started at $699. The Winter catalog photo showed a TL60 in Blueburst on swamp ash with abalone dot inlays, Fishman acoustic bridge/active electronics and gold hardware. The TL60T was shown in Tobacco Sunburst on swamp ash.

The DC150 and SC90 were unchanged and shared a catalog page, but did jump in price. The DC150 was $769 in it's sophomore year, and the SC90 was $669. The DC150 was not available with a tremolo, and the SC90 was still offered with the Wilkinson tremolo, or with an original Floyd Rose tremolo. The Winter catalog showed the DC150 in Cherry Sunburst on quilted maple with cream pickup coils, coil splitters and gold hardware. The SC90 was shown in Tobacco Sunburst on swamp ash with rounded body sides.

The DC200, DC400 and DC120 had price increases consistent with other Carvin models in mid-2003. The DC200 had a base price of $769, and the DC400 had a base price of $949. The DC120 12-string model increased to $839, after many years with a $749 price tag. The Wilkinson and Floyd Rose-equipped models had relative price increases as well, but the Anniversary pakage remained $200 additional. The Winter catalog photo showed the DC200 in Vintage Yellow on swamp ash with rounded body sides, Fishman acoustic bridge and gold hardware, and the DC400 was shown in Ruby Red Stain with blackburst edges on quilted maple and matching headstock, Fishman acoustic bridge and black hardware.

The DC727 and DC747 were unchanged, and the DC747 is actually the same one used in the catalog in 2002, laid onto the new background. The DC727 increased to $699, while the licensed Floyd Rose version was $769. The DC747 increased to $729, with the licensed Floyd Rose version was $799. The catalog photo showed the DC727 in Greenburst on flamed maple with matching headstock, abalone block inlays and gold hardware, and the DC747 was shown in Sapphire Blue on quilted maple with matching headstock and coil splitters.

The Allan Holdsworth Signature H2 and HF2 Fatboy were unchanged. The price on the H2 rose to $879 (or $919 with Wilkinson tremolo) and the HF2 rose to $979. The catalog photo showed the H2 in Antique Brown Stain on quilted maple with matching headstock, no inlays, and black hardware, and the HF2 was shown in Blueburst on quilted maple with matching headstock and black hardware.


2003 ACOUSTIC ELECTRIC GUITARS

The AE185 and it's 12-string counterpart, the AE185-12, were unchanged for 2003. The AE185 increased in price to $869, while the 12-string version was $949. The Winter catalog photo showed an AE185 in Ruby Red Stain on quilted maple with matching headstock, body binding and abalone block inlays, and one in Sunsetburst on flamed maple with matching headstock, body binding, coil taps and phase switches and gold hardware.

The AC175, AC275 and CC275 models were unchanged for 2003. The AC175 started at $769, the AC275 started at $819, and the Craig Chaquico CC275 was $979. The Winter catalog photo showed a left-handed AC175 in Classic Sunburst on flamed maple with matching headstock, body binding, and gold hardware, and a CC275 with standard appointments.

The AC375 and the CL450 classical were unchanged. The AC375 increased in price to $899, and the CL450 increased to $949. The catalog photo showed the AC375 in clear gloss on AAA Engleman spruce with body binding and gold hardware, and the CL450 in clear gloss with blackburst edges on flamed maple with matching headstock, body binding and gold hardware.

The Cobalt acoustic guitars were unchanged from 2002, with the exception of the addition of a 12-string model, the C980-12.


2003 BASSES

The 2003 catalogs featured a record 11 pages of bass guitars, showcasing a whopping 16 different basic models (B4, B5, LB20, LB70, LB75, LB76, XB75, XB76, BB70, BB75, BB76, Claro Walnut, Anniversary, TBS4, AC40 & AC50). A far cry from the 2 or 3 models available in the 70s and 80s! With the wide variety of colors, woods, quilted tops, flame tops and many other options, this meant thousands of possible combinations and variations were available, suiting any style and taste.

The new TBS4 was the first signature model bass to come out of San Diego since the Bunny Brunel BB series was introduced in 1992. Built in conjunction with long-time Carvin endorser and Eagles bassist Timothy B. Schmit, this model is essentially a stripped down LB20, featuring H50N stacked humbuckers controlled by a single volume knob. Other standard features are tung-oil on the back of the neck, no inlays (side dots only), and a neck that's 1/16" thinner than a standard LB20. Quilted or flame top, in any color, was also standard. The TBS4 was priced at $899, in either fretted or fretless versions. The July catalog showed the TBS4 in Ruby Red Stain on quilted maple.

The B4 and B5 prices increased, to $595 and $719, respectively. The July catalog showed the B4 in Trans White on swamp ash, J99/HB2 pickups and gold hardware, and the B5 in Sapphire Blue on swamp ash with J99/HB2 pickups and black hardware.

The passive LB20 and active LB70 remained unchanged for 2003. The only change (apart from the 2 new colors) was a new catalog photo, which showed the same LB70 as '02, but was paired with a different LB20. The LB20 was priced at $669, and the LB70 was priced at $749. The LB70P was priced at $849. The July catalog showed the LB20 in walnut with rounded body sides, and the LB70 is a P Series model in Tobacco Sunburst on swamp ash.

Also unchanged, the LB75 was featured on a page by itself, unlike 2002, when it was paired with an XB75. The LB75 was priced at $799. The LB75P was priced at $899. The January catalog featured an LB75 with Blue Burst finish on swamp ash, with an HB2 and rounded body sides, and an LB75 in Classic Sunburst on swamp ash with an HB2 and rounded body sides.

Like the LB75, the LB76 was given a page of it's own, and the XB76 it was paired with in 2002 was given it's own spot with an XB75. Other than that, there were no changes to this model. The LB76 and LB76P were priced at $899 and $999, respectively. The July 2003 catalog showed an LB76 in Sapphire Blue on swamp ash with an HB2 and rounded body sides, and an LB76P in Cherry Sunburst on quilted maple with matching headstock, mother-of-pearl block inlays and gold hardware.

Carvin's LB70, LB75 and LB76 continued to be available in the Claro Walnut Series (W Series), and had no changes from 2002. The catalog inset showed the Anniversary Series (A Series), which was also unchanged for 2003. The base price on the LB70W/A sold for $1149, and $1249 for the "P" option. The LB75W/A was $1199, and $1299 for the "P" option, and the LB76W/A was $1299, or $1399 (from $1449) for the "P" option.

The 2003 catalog featured new photos of the long-running BB70 and BB75 four and five string models. The BB76 was not pictured. The BB70 was $849, and $949 for the "P" option. The BB75 was $899, and $999 for the "P" option. The BB76 was $999, and $1099 for the "P" option. The July catalog showed a BB70P in Antique Brown Stain on quilt with matching headstock, Hipshot detuner and gold hardware, and a BB75 in figured walnut with 5-piece neck, HB2 bridge pickup and black hardware.

The XB Series were moved to their own page in 2003, rather than being on the same page with their similar-stringed counterparts. All features and options were the same as 2002. The XB75 was base-priced at $869, and $969 for the P Series option, and the XB76 was $969, and $1069 for the P Series option. The July 2003 catalog showed an XB75PF in walnut, and an XB76 in Sapphire Blue over flamed maple with matching headstock, HB2 bridge pickup and gold hardware.

The AC40 and AC50 were also unchanged for 2003, and continued to offer bassists a high quality acoustic model with all the features and options of a Custom Shop electric. The AC40 was priced at $799, and the AC50 was priced at $849. The July 2003 catalog showed an AC40 in Classic Sunburst on flamed maple, with matching traditional (2+2) headstock, body binding, abalone block inlays and black hardware, and an AC50 in Sapphire Blue on quilt with matching headstock, body binding, abalone block inlays and gold hardware.