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June, 2010:

Collectable Guitars pt 40 – Carvin V220T

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09tipdrop logofacebook481Carvin is an American custom guitar brand. They are not particularly well-known but to those “in the know” they represent high quality and reasonable value for what they are. Many of Carvin’s designs in their 1980s heyday employed through-neck construction, which is now established and used often. When Carvin started using it, however, it was in its infancy, having only been used previously on the Gibson Firebird and early BC Rich guitars.

In the 1980s Carvin began to gain a serious reputation, and their guitars were used by Craig Chaquico of Starship, Jason Becker of Cacophony and Steve Vai before his endorsement from Ibanez. Their amps are also renowned, and Vai is a long-time user of his signature Legacy series.

Many of Carvin’s guitar designs are based on traditional shapes with their characteristic twists. However, in 1984 they introduced a very different shape to their line-up, which actually became one of their most popular designs. That guitar was the V220T.

The V220’s shape was unique and could perhaps be said to resemble the bottom half of an upside-down Jackson Rhoads crossed with the top half of an upside-down Gibson Explorer. It is a surprisingly elegant shape, and was available in black, white and red as well as a clear natural finish.

In terms of construction, the V220T consisted of a maple body and maple set neck, although quilted maple and koa bodies were options. The neck had 24 frets on an ebony fingerboard. The neck was topped off by an arrow-shaped headstock resembling that of a Gibson Flying V.

The hardware was high-quality. The pickups were an M22 humbucker at the neck and an M22SD at the bridge. The pickups had twice as many pole pieces as normal, for more sustain. The pickups came with white covers and could be said to resemble DiMarzios. There were two options for the bridge. The standard was a one-piece fixed bridge/tailpiece combination. The more common option was the then-new Kahler locking tremolo system, which ended up on most V220Ts. In terms of the controls, there was a master tone control, volume controls for each pickup, a three-way pickup selector and two coil-split mini toggle switches.

The V220 was a successful design which found favour with many significant rock players. It was discontinued in 1989 after a prosperous five-year run. It has since been reissued, however, and is in Carvin’s current product line albeit with some changes. The shape remains the same, although the tremolo is now a Floyd Rose model, and the construction is thru-neck.

The body is now alder and the controls have been simplified. The UK price of this new model, due to the higher-end features, is £1226 (quoted from Carvin’s website, and converted from dollars) but original 1980s models go for surprisingly little. A trawl on eBay suggests prices in the region of £300-£600.

Insurance Advice for the Guitar Collector

Following on from the last post about the tragic loss of vintage guitars in the Nashville floods, Chris Spann from has written this guest post to alert us all to the importance of making sure we keep the insurance up to date on all our treasured and valuable possessions, not just our guitars!

Have you ever spent a little bit too much on a guitar? Every collector probably has at one time or another; it kind of goes with the territory – along with casually changing the subject every time someone asks you how much you’ve spent on your new axe.

But imagine what would happen if that guitar was damaged in some way, or stolen: As well as the sentimental value, you could potentially be left out of pocket to the tune of hundreds, or even thousands of pounds.

Be honest, when you add another guitar to the collection, do you update your home insurance? If you only buy two guitars in a year that could see your collection’s value increase by £1000 or more, and before you know it you’ve got an awful lot of money’s worth of wood and wire hanging around your house.

It’s also worth finding out what your single item limit is on your home insurance; the last thing you need is to lose a prized instrument only to find that your provider won’t cover the full cost in repayment.

There are a number of things you can do to keep the cost down when you’re buying insurance as well; here are just a few things to consider:

• Fit five lever mortice locks and consider changing the locks – if your house has previous owners, you don’t know who might have a key.
• Fit smoke alarms and give up smoking – both of these things can decrease your premiums by a noticeable amount.
• Join a neighbourhood watch scheme – this can reduce your premiums by up to 5%
• Install security lighting and a NACOSS approved alarm – these will also help to slash the cost of your insurance.

Obviously, things like this aren’t only good for keeping your premiums down; they’re also great for making sure your prized collection of gear doesn’t end up in the wrong hands as well. Most thieves are opportunists, and as such a security light or clearly visible alarm sounder box on an exterior wall can make them think twice about trying your home, which is often enough to keep your possessions safe.

Too many people do not adequately cover their homes, which can make an already difficult time (dealing with the aftermath of a fire, or burglary, for example) all the harder when their provider refuses to pay up for possessions they have lost. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap, and check your cover.