It is with great sadness that Carvin announces that its founder, Lowell C. Kiesel, passed away on December 28, 2009 in San Diego at the age of 94.
Mr. Kiesel was born on a farm in Eustis, Nebraska on February 22, 1915. As a young man, he spent time in Wichita, Kansas, where he developed an interest
in musical instruments; specifically, Hawaiian steel guitars, resonators and the newly-emerging electronic aspects of these instruments.
During his time in Kansas in the 1930s, he performed live on local radio stations with his Hawaiian steel guitar. However, like other
innovators in the burgeoning industry of that era, he found that he had an equal passion for building instruments and equipment as he
did playing them, and that passion would become his life's work.
|Lowell Kiesel performing on the radio in 1935
Following his time in the midwest, Mr. Kiesel relocated to Los Angeles, where he took a job with North American Aviation. It was World War II, and Mr. Kiesel was one of many men building aircraft for the war effort; notably, the legendary P-51 Mustang, which is often credited as turning the tide of the war for the Allies. Near the end of the war, in 1944, he married Agnes Dorothea Jorgenson, who would be with him until her passing in 2007.
He founded the L. C. Kiesel Company in 1946, and began winding guitar pickups on an old sewing machine. The company was initially located in Los Angeles,
briefly relocated back to Mr. Kiesel's home state of Nebraska, and then moved back to southern California in 1949, by which time he had added
amplifiers and steel guitars to his lineup of gear. There are still examples of these early Kiesel-badged steel guitars and amplifiers in existence
today, underscoring the quality and durability of Mr. Kiesel's early designs. Originally, Kiesel pickups were sold through a distributor, but
Mr. Kiesel felt he could do a better job by eliminating the middleman and selling his pickups directly to the customer, so an idea that would
last until this day was born. He changed the name of the company to Carvin, after his two eldest sons, Carson and Gavin. In the earliest years
of the company, he advertised in such magazines as Popular Mechanics, and began producing his own mail order catalog in the early 1950s. In the
years that followed, the company expanded from pickups to guitars and basses, amplifiers, pro audio equipment and other musical accessories.
Early Carvin steel guitars, amplifiers and electronics were made by Mr. Kiesel himself, and later by a few employees of the small company. In
addition to his pickups, which were notably used by Semie Moseley in early Mosrite guitars, Mr. Kiesel designed and built many unique instruments,
including an electric upright bass and an electric violin, which Agnes enjoyed playing.
|Lowell Kiesel in 1935
As the decades passed, Carvin blossomed into a world-class manufacturer of musical instruments, amplification and pro audio gear. The company
relocated several times, from Baldwin Park outside of Los Angeles, to Covina, California, to Escondido, California, and finally to its present
location in San Diego. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mr. Kiesel's sons joined the family business, bringing their own engineering and
technical skills to the company, and today, the 3rd generation of Kiesels are also part of the company. Mr. Kiesel's leadership, technical
expertise and innovative engineering and marketing concepts led the company for decades, and even after handing the reins of the company
over to his sons, he maintained an office in Carvin's San Diego headquarters. The innovative "factory-direct" sales approach adopted by
Mr. Kiesel in the 1940s continues to this day, and is one of the primary reasons for the company's success.
He was preceded in death by son Gavin in 1989 and wife of 63 years, Agnes, in 2007. He is survived by sons Carson, Mark, Jon and Paul, as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Eldest son Carson Kiesel is President of Carvin, and is in charge of electronics design and production. Mark Kiesel is Vice-President and in charge of guitar and bass design and production. Jon Kiesel is also Vice-President, and is responsible for speaker cabinet design and production. Grandson Jeff Kiesel is Director of National Sales, and grandson Joel Kiesel is Director of International Sales. Granddaughter Kristen Kiesel Lieurance is a production engineer with the company. The members of the Kiesel family will continue to carry on the quality and traditions established by the family patriarch for many years to come, ensuring that Lowell Kiesel's legacy will live on.
Lowell Kiesel will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by the Kiesel family and the entire staff of Carvin.
From left: Jeff Kiesel, Mark Kiesel, Lowell Kiesel, Jon Kiesel, Carson Kiesel, Kristen Kiesel Lieurance, Joel Kiesel - Carvin 60th Anniversary Celebration, August 2006
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all of the earth; make a loud noise and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing to the Lord with the harp, and the voice of the psalm.
- Psalm 98: 4-5