New Models from Kiesel Guitars and the Carvin Guitars Custom Shop

Kiesel Guitars and the Carvin Guitars Custom Shop are excited to announce a host of new guitar models to kick off 2015. These instruments debuted at NAMM and received a great deal of attention from players and the media. All of these new models are now available to order on

The Vader Series Headless Guitars are available in 6, 7 & 8 string models. They feature a 27″ scale length (with 25.5″ scale available on the six and seven string models), a Hipshot bridge, mother-of-pearl diamond inlays and new direct-mount Kiesel passive pickups with 5-way lever style pickup selector. A chambered body option is also available, making these guitars super-compact and light. Their aggressive looks and complete host of Custom Shop options allow you to create an instrument that looks as good as it plays. The Vader Series carries the new Kiesel badge, and are made at the Carvin Guitars Custom Shop.

Read more: Kiesel Vader Series Guitars

The Greg Howe Signature GH24 Bolt-Neck Guitar is a 24-fret, chambered body instrument, designed in conjunction with acclaimed guitarist Greg Howe. A 4A flame maple top with California burst finish is standard, along with a vintage tremolo, birdseye maple fingerboard with black acrylic diamond inlays, jumbo gold EVO frets and gold hardware. Greg’s signature GH12B bridge humbucker and TBH60 twinblade neck humbucker with 5-way blade style pickup selector are standard.

Read more: Greg Howe Signature GH24 Guitar

With its impressive list of standard features, the Jason Becker Tribute JB24 Bolt-Neck Guitar pushes the limits of style, tone and playability. Modeled on the guitar Jason designed in the 90s, the JB24 is a 24-fret instrument with standard 1-piece swamp ash body, maple fingerboard with multi-colored “Numbers” inlays, a Floyd Rose tremolo with locking nut, stainless steel frets, and black hardware with red tuner buttons. Multi-colored Seymour Duncan pickups in an H-S-H configuration with master volume control and 5-way pickup selector produce a huge array of sounds, suitable for any playing style or genre. A multi-colored Carvin headstock logo and Jason Becker truss rod cover complete the package.

Read more: Jason Becker Signature JB24 Guitar

The Custom Shop worked closely with Born of Osiris guitarist Lee McKinney to create the Lee McKinney Signature LPM6 & LPM7 Guitar. These are neck-through instruments, outfitted to Lee’s specifications. An original Floyd Rose tremolo with acoustic saddles is standard, along with direct-mount Kiesel Series passive pickups. The ebony fingerboard has Lee’s personal 12th fret mother-of-pearl inlay, and you can choose from a wide assortment of options to order your LPM6 or LPM7 guitar exactly the way you want it. A drop-shadow Kiesel logo is featured on the headstock.

Read more: Lee McKinney Signature LPM6 Guitar, Lee McKinney Signature LPM7 Seven-String Guitar

Visit to check out these and the many other Carvin Guitars and Kiesel Guitars electric, acoustic/electric and MIDI guitars and basses, and "like" the new Kiesel Guitars Facebook page to keep up with all the new developments coming out of the Custom Shop!

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The All-New Kiesel Guitars!

NAMMIt’s been an exciting and busy week for everyone at Carvin Guitars. As was announced earlier in the week, the Guitar Division at Carvin is forming its own company, under the Kiesel Guitars name. Everyone at Carvin Guitars / Kiesel Guitars would like to express our sincere thanks for all the support we’ve received during this exciting time, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to build world-class instruments for our many players. With NAMM kicking off today, we’re looking forward to meeting our fans, and showing off our newest instruments under the Carvin Guitars and Kiesel Guitars badges. If you’re at the show, be sure and stop by Booth #4290 and meet Mark & Jeff Kiesel, as well as our artists and endorsers such as Neil Zaza, Frank Gambale, Allan Holdsworth, Craig Chaquico, Greg Howe, Brian Bromberg & Lee McKinney.

Visit the new Kiesel Guitars Facebook page to keep up with us at NAMM, and with all the new developments coming out of the Custom Shop!

Carvin Guitars / Kiesel Guitars Press Release

After almost 70 years designing and manufacturing high quality, USA-made instruments, Carvin Corporation’s guitar and bass Custom Shop division is being separated into its own company, to be known as Kiesel Custom Guitars. This will allow the Custom Shop’s talented designers, builders and other staff to focus exclusively on creating the world-class instruments the company is known for. The original Kiesel brand name was launched in 1946 by family patriarch Lowell Kiesel as the L.C. Kiesel Company, and was renamed “Carvin” in 1949 when the company launched its innovative direct-sales business model, so returning to the “Kiesel” name is an homage to the company founder, who passed away in 2009. Originally, the company began by selling pickups, steel guitars and tube amplifiers, many of which are still in existence today, and later expanded into electric guitars and basses, solid-state amps, audio gear and accessories. Mark Kiesel, son of Lowell, has been in charge of guitar production since leaving the aerospace industry in 1970 to join the family business, and pioneered countless innovations in the stringed instrument industry over the years. Throughout the 70s and 80s, Mark personally designed and built every instrument that passed through the Custom Shop, and as the popularity of the brand exploded in the late 1980s, a whole team of talented luthiers, painters, engineers, technicians and other staff joined the company. Mark’s son, Jeff Kiesel, has been with the company for over 20 years, and under Mark’s tutelage, has acquired a wealth of knowledge in the design and construction of stringed instruments. His innovative and exciting new instrument designs, new features and options as well as streamlined manufacturing processes have reinvigorated the Custom Shop, and created excitement among the Custom Shop’s countless players and fans. Many new artists and endorsers have been attracted, bringing with them new ideas and opportunities, as well as exposing the brand to the next generation of players and performers. The Carvin brand name for instruments is exclusively owned by Kiesel Guitars and will continue to be made along side some Kiesel branded instruments. Kiesel Guitars is retaining the current staff and Production will continue at current location.

Mark Kiesel, President, says: “I have loved this business from the time I started working part time for my dad in the 60s. Later in 1970 after working full time as a design draftsman for a large aero-space company, I was asked by my brother, Carson to quit my job and work full time at Carvin to run the guitar department. It’s been a fun process to grow our guitar sales from miniscule to what they are today. If my Dad was still with us he would be proud to see his original KIESEL logo in use again. The coolest thing for me is to see how passionate my son Jeff is about designing and building guitars. And now my grandson Zak is working part time. How cool is that! When you are as passionate as we are about designing and building instruments, having our own company to focus entirely on guitars and basses is a dream come true!”

Jeff Kiesel, Vice-President, says: “This is an amazing time for us and I am really excited about our future. With this change it will remove distractions for the both of us and allow us to focus on what we love and are best at. The Instruments we are building today are far superior to anything we built in years past, its fun to work on projects together and bounce ideas off each other and constantly push the envelope of development and quality. My kids both play guitar and currently my son Zak works here part time, since Zak was about three years old he has wanted to design and build guitars alongside myself and my dad. We all really enjoy what we do and this will allow us to be even better at it.”

Read More:

Carvin Guitars / Kiesel Guitars Video Press Release on YouTube

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Dunlop Bass Strings Now Standard

Dunlop Bass Strings

The Carvin Guitars Custom Shop is excited to announce that, effective immediately, we will be using Dunlop Super Bright nickel bass strings exclusively on all our 4, 5 and 6 string electric basses. We’ve tried out a variety of strings in search for the perfect sound, and the consensus among our artists and staff is that the Dunlops produce the brightest highs, clearest mids and punchiest lows, and compliment our Custom Shop basses perfectly. Light gauge are standard, with medium gauge and stainless steel optional.

Visit Carvin Guitars Custom Shop online today, and design and order your new bass! With hundreds of availble options, including body, neck, top and fingerboard woods; finishes; inlays; fretwire; electronics and more, you can design your new bass exactly the way you want it. We’re so sure you’ll love it, you can try it out for 10 days, and if you don’t agree it’s the best bass you’ve ever played, send it back – no questions asked!

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A Real World Subwoofer Application

Looking at some pictures that were sent to us over the last few days we noticed that a subwoofer array was setup as a center cluster. The array had 6 TCS subs across the front of the stage. So after looking at the image and doing a couple software models we wanted to share with you the coverage of the center cluster vs. using the same number of subs as a stereo setup with three subs per side of the stage.

On the top graphic you will notice a very even coverage throughout the listening area with attenuated bass to the sides of the stage but a bit of bass under the stage area (Green Square.)

In the bottom graphic you will notice very intense lobes throughout the listening area that results in uneven coverage and unsatisfactory results.

We are also including a picture of the actual stage so you can see what it looked like.

When dealing with subwoofers and low frequencies, compromises have to be made. In this case, the provider chose to have a little bit of extra bass under the stage to get the desired smooth coverage in the listen area. Since the TRX3210As were flown, there was no need to stack the speakers on top of the subwoofers, therefore they didn’t need to do the inferior compromise of using a stereo subwoofer array.

Take a look at how you deploy your subwoofers and think outside the box a little, you may be pleasantly surprised.



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How should I set up my subwoofers, three ideas to consider.

When considering where and how to deploy your subwoofers there are many factors to consider. For many of the smaller systems or for events where the logistics prevent hanging the main P.A. system, the only obvious choice is to ground stack the system. Since most people would end up stacking the main speakers on top of the subwoofers on either side of the stage, the system technician needs to understand the interference that the subwoofers will have with each other. In the image below, you will notice that there are distinct lobes in the audio coverage of the subwoofers. This will always happen when using subwoofers placed apart from each other as such.

Carvin Stereo Sub Placement

As the mix engineer or system technician walks the area to tune the system, caution needs to be taken to understand where these lobes are and to not try to tune the system based upon the lobes. Trying to add additional output in these areas could cause harm to the subwoofers.

When you have an event where you are able to get a center cluster of subwoofers, you begin to benefit greatly. The first benefit you get is smooth horizontal coverage. Since the subwoofers act as a single device with a large mouth, there is almost zero phase difference between the boxes. This prevents the lobes in coverage and it gives the additional benefit of coupling. Since the subwoofers will be in close proximity you will gain up to 6 dB of additional output plus you gain in pattern control. Notice the nice even coverage on the attached image.

Carvin Mono Subs

To get even better pattern control from you subwoofers, you can consider different subwoofer arrays such as the Cardioid Subwoofer Array. The Cardioid Array is most often used when less low frequency content is desired on the stage. This will make the monitor engineers job way easier and allows for much cleaner monitor mixes.

The easiest way to create this array is to have one subwoofer pointed backwards with two subwoofers pointing forward on each side of the reversed subwoofer. Then reverse the polarity of the reversed subwoofer and delay the forward subwoofers to align with the reverse subwoofer. This is an advanced system setup that will require experimenting with different settings using to get the pattern control required. By slightly varying the delay, you can maximize the cancellations to the back at different frequencies.

Since the reversed subwoofer is canceling out part of the output of the forward subwoofers, it actually takes more speakers to get the same output as a regular center cluster subwoofer array. To be approximately equal in output to four subwoofers you will actually need at least six subwoofers for the array as is pictured in the graph below.

Carvin Cardioid Sub

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Setting Limiters

How to calculate a limiter setting, for your speaker.

First you need to convert the power rating of your driver to Volts rather than watts.

Lets assume you have a driver rated for 600 watts at 8 ohms nominal. The formula would be….

Sqrt(watts*ohms) so sqrt(600*8) = 69.28 volts

Next you need to convert the volts to dBu using the formula 20 Log(volts/.775)

so 20 Log(69.28/.775) = 39.03 dBu

Now lets assume you have an amplifier capable of 800 watts at 8 ohms. Now let us convert that to dBu using the first formula used with the speakers wattage.

sqrt(800*8) = 80 volts. then we convert that to dBu also.
20 Log (80/.775) = 40.28 dBu

Now to find the limiter setting you subtract the amplifier output from the dBu required for the driver.

39.03-40.28 = -1.25 dBu

Now you would set your limiter for 1.25dBu below full output of your amplifier.

So if your amplifier has full output at +4dBu then you would set your limiter for +2.75dBu.

To add a little extra protection, consider setting your limiters based upon the type of music and the skill level of the technicians. For highly compressed music such as Electronic Dance Music, setting the limiter closer to the Continuous rating of the speaker will provide a little extra cushion. For highly dynamic music such as Jazz or vocal based music, setting the limiter closer to the Program rating of the speaker will perform really well.

Also to consider, if you have an electrical source that may not be up to the task, you may want to lower your limiter settings by a decibel or two for a little extra protection to prevent premature clipping due to voltage sags.

No amount of limiting can protect your speakers completely, so you need to be aware of how your system is performing. Be sure to make adjustments as needed to keep your speakers within safe operating conditions.

There you go, now you are a little safer.

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DIY -20dB Pad Adapter

Occasionally you need to have a pad on a mixer that doesn’t have an input mic-preamp pad switch. Here we will show you how to build your own balanced -20dB Pad adapter. These are very handy when you have a bass amp with a DI output, but no DI volume. Or you have a hot line level output going into a microphone mixer input. Now you have the ability to build your own -20dB Pad adapter.


This project will take about 20 minutes to make and will be very handy when those times arise.

You’ll need a couple of tools and a couple parts to build this project.

Tools needed:
Solder Iron
Small wire cutter
Small wire stripper

Parts List:
1 Male XLR Connector
1 Female XLR Connector
1′ of Balanced audio cable
2 680 ohm 1% resistors (1/4 Watt if you can find them)
1 150 ohm 1% resistor (1/4 Watt if you can find them)


This very simple circuit uses the two 680 ohm resistors in series with Pins 2 and 3 and then has the 150 ohm resistor in parallel between the Pin 2 and 3 Leads. It works work phantom power so you can still use your favorite condenser microphones.

It is highly recommended that you use very small (1/4 Watt or 1/8 Watt if you can find them) resistors for this project so that they will fit inside the XLR shell easier. For illustration purposes, 1/2 Watt resistors were used here so that you could see them better in the photos. They DO NOT fit into the XLR shells very well.

Step 1. Trim the leads and solder the 680 ohm resistors into the cups of Pins 2 and 3 of the female XLR

Step 2. Trim the leads and solder the 150 ohm resistor into the cups of Pins 2 and 3 of the male XLR

Carvin Soldered Resistors

Step 3. Solder the leaders from the 1′ piece of Audio cable into the cups with the 150 ohm resistor and the pin 1 cup of the male XLR. Make sure you put the shell on the cable prior to soldering to avoid the aggravation of undoing your work…been there, done that!

Carvin Soldered Male XLR

Step 4. Solder the leads of the other end of the cable to the trimmed leads of the 680 ohm resistors and the pin 1 cup of the female XLR. Again, remember to put the shell on the cable first.

Carvin Soldered Female XLR

Step 5. Assemble the XLR shells and you are good to go.


For a better looking job, use tiny pieces of shrink tubing over the exposed leads inside the XLR shells. This will take some tiny tweezers to get them in place and hold them away from the solder iron as you solder.

Have fun building this project and hopefully you will find it as easy and handy as we have described it.

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Common Audio Voltages and Levels

In professional audio, we frequently see many voltages and levels referenced in dBu or dBV that we should all know. Below is a short list of the most common levels and their voltages that they represent that we highly recommend you memorize. These levels will help you to optimize the setting of your system processors and effects units by understanding what levels are going into and out of different pieces of gear.

Some of these are the Nominal Operating Levels of gear, while others are the Sensitivities of Amplifiers (Level required for full output), and others are often stated in spec sheets as the maximum output levels of common pieces of gear. These numbers have been rounded to the nearest 100th of a volt or 10th of a dBu to reflect the commonly seen numbers on specification sheets of audio gear.

dBu Volts dBV
Common Professional Levels
0 dBu .775 Volts -2.214 dBV
+4 dBu 1.23 Volts 1.786 dBV
+5.2 dBu 1.4 Volts 2.923 dBV
+18 dBu 6.16 Volts 15.786 dBV
+22 dBu 9.76 Volts 19.786 dBV
+24 dBu 12.28 Volts 21.786 dBV
Common Consumer Levels
-7.8 dBu .32 Volts -10 dBV
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NEW! Carvin SCB7 Bevel Top Seven String Guitar

Carvin SCB7 Bevel-Top Seven String Guitar
Carvin is excited to offer our latest Custom Shop instrument, the SCB7 bevel-top seven string guitar. Since the introduction of the six string SCB6 at NAMM, seven string players have been asking for their own version, and the Custom Shop is happy to oblige. The SCB7 is a radical departure in aesthetics from other Carvin seven string models, with sleek and stylish looks combined with superior materials and craftsmanship in a USA-made instrument that is suitable for all playing styles at any level.

Neck-through design, an alder body with Eastern hard rock maple neck and tune-o-matic “M” bridge provides unsurpassed playability and amazing tone with sustain for days. A Hipshot™ hardtail bridge or Floyd Rose tremolo is also available. Like all Carvin Custom Shop instruments, you can choose from a
massive assortment of finishes; premium neck, body, fingerboard and top woods; inlays; fretwire and much, much more. The SCB7 comes equipped with Carvin’s popular direct-mount D26 humbuckers, with master volume and tone controls and a 3-way lever-style pickup selector.

The Custom Shop can build your new SCB7 exactly the way you want it, creating a masterpiece that will impress you, your bandmates and your audience. Whether you’re an experienced seven string player, or looking to make the leap up from six strings, Carvin’s SCB7 and our other seven string models will help you take your playing to the next level.

Read More:  Carvin Custom Shop SCB7 Bevel-Top Seven String Guitar

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5 Easy Tips To Make Your Systems Sound Better In Small Venues

Use Proper Cables: By using the correct type and quality cables for your applications you will often notice a significant difference in sound quality. Use as short of cables as is practical to avoid voltage drops. Short unbalanced 1/4″ TS cables should be used for instruments only, while using high quality, balance TRS or XLR cables for all sound system interconnects. Use Extra Hard Service power cables for your power runs and avoid laying them parallel to your audio cables whenever possible.

Place Speakers to the Proper Height: Point your speakers will they will be heard. Placing your speakers on the ground won’t help when the audience is standing and their ears are 5′ off the ground. By getting the High Frequency Drivers above head height, the music will be much clearer from the front to the back of the room. Use tri-pod stands as needed to get the speakers above the heads of the audience.

Less Speakers Sound Better Than More: Whenever you try to array speakers horizontally you will end up with some degradation of sound due to “Comb Filtering.” Use the correct number of speakers to cover the area, paying particular attention to keep the sound off of the walls and ceiling. In most small venues a single 80 or 90 degree horizontal speaker will almost always sound better than a pair of boxes. Giving up a little SPL by only using one box per side of the stage will actually make the audio more intelligible without having to be so loud.

Don’t Mix Too Loud For The Room: Notice all the people sitting at the back of the room? They really want to be up close to the musicians but it’s too loud right in front of the stage. Walk the room to verify that the volume is appropriate in all areas. If you are playing to two hundred people in a small room there is no reason to turn it up to the same volume as an arena show.

Play at the Proper Stage Volume: All too often the singer’s girlfriend comes to the sound guy and says she can’t hear her boyfriend because the Guitar is too loud. Of course the sound guy doesn’t even have the Guitar in the mix because his amp is turned up to 11, because it’s one more. As the mixer, do your best to communicate to the musicians to play at a reasonable volume for the venue. Playing too loud doesn’t help anyone. By having the musicians turn down, not only will your front of house mix sound better but they’ll hear the monitors better too.

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