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NUGD - Carvin HF2!


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  • NUGD - Carvin HF2!

    I sold a nice strat earlier this year with the intention of buying a Kemper, but decided against that... it left me with a nice chunk of change in the gear fund. I spent several months casually checking out guitars, trying to figure out what would be a good fit. I already paired down to a Les Paul Traditional & Suhr Set Neck Modern and didn't want to buy something "just because." At this point, I don't need more guitars, I want the right ones I have a reason to have and will bond with. The LP & Suhr cover a LOT of ground, so it took me a long time to figure that out. I was thinking about getting a semi-hollow, but couldn't quite figure out which one or pull the trigger...

    I saw this used HF2 on eBay for $800 (with stainless frets, which are basically a must-have for me after 2 years of playing them on my Suhr) I took the plunge.  I'd been thinking about getting a Carvin for a while, and was really drawn to the uniqueness of the HF2 model.  First, let's get to the good:

    I wasn't sure how the neck would feel as people talked about how big it was, but it's great. More comfortable than my LP's.  I suspect the depth is close in specs but the shape fits my hand better. It's a lot chunkier than my Suhr's neck (which I've been playing 90\% of the time for the last year or so) but it's just about as comfortable. The guitar is super-easy to play, even though I need to do a setup as the action is currently a bit higher than I like. My LP goes from my easiest-playing to hardest-playing guitar with a tiny setup change - that doesn't seem to be the case with the HF2. Action is high but it still plays like a dream...  I was also not sure how I'd bond with the 20" radius - some days the 16" radius on my Suhr feels too flat, but on the HF2 it feels very natural.  Playability is top notch overall.

    The tone is outstanding - it has that semi-hollow woodiness and attack, good sustain, great clean and dirty, very articulate. I'm surprised that the neck & bridge pickups don't sound as far apart tonally as other guitars, but they both sound good so I'm not complaining.  It's more of a subtle difference, which is kind of neat. I was very pleasantly surprised how great the volume knob roll-off works on the HF2. It's a much smoother progression than any guitar I've played, and works amazingly well. Not sure what pots they are, or if it's just the guitar, but it's awesome.

    Aesthetically, I'm kind of a traditionalist. I don't like overly weird and funky guitars. The HF2 is just about the farthest I can push it and still think it looks awesome, which it does. Love the tobacco burst w/ gold hardware. The overall look unique, but not too weird and I think it's really hot.

    A few minor things that I'm not 100\% on - I don't like the strap button on the back. Due to the nature of the guitar, I'm guessing I can't put one in the standard place on the upper horn, but that would be nice. Related, the guitar is very light, but because of the position of the strap it has tended to get fatiguing a bit when played standing up for extended periods. I think I just need a little more time to get used to the position and tweak the strap a bit for optimal height.  It's extremely comfortable to play sitting down, though.  As much as I love the range and usefulness of the volume knob, it is pretty stiff which makes swells a little tough. Minor.

    I should wait until after the "Honeymoon" period for a big review, but my initial impressions are that it's an outstanding guitar. I will probably play it a lot more than my Les Paul.  It won't replace the Suhr, but then, that guitar cost a lot more and it's really an apples-to-oranges comparison.  They're very different guitars. The HF2 is right up there, and for $800 it's a steal.  Very happy.

    The pics make it look more red than it actually is.  It's more of a tobacco burst than 3tsb.

    HF2 - body

    HF2 - full

    HF2 - headstock

    HF2 - neck


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    Multiple award winning blues/rock/country at http://www.zeyerband.com or http://www.reverbnation.com/zeyer.Check my solo (instrumental rock) projects at: http://www.reverbnation.com/vincedickinson"Music is like the English language - it's just full of rules that need to be broken or you aren't hip.""It doesn't take talent to upgrade your playing. It takes patience" - Kenny Werner

  • #2

    HNkindofUG day!

    Is that one of the neck-thru or bolt on neck models?  I couldn't tell from the pictures, but it looks like a player either way.  I'm also interested whether its tone is closer to a chambered Les Paul, a 339/335, a thinline tele deluxe or what.


    • DeepEnd
      DeepEnd commented
      Editing a comment

      Happy New Guitar Day. Definitely different. I'm not sure why you wouldn't be able to put a strap button on the upper horn unless the wood is extra thin there due to chambering. You might want to contact Carvin and see what they say.

  • #3

    I saw that over at carvinbbs.  Very nice indeed.  I love the headstock design.   That straight thru string pull means the tuning doesn't run into problems.  Enjoy!


    music projects are now available online at http://aliensporebomb.com