Review: Carvin TL70 Single Cutaway 7-String

Since the 1970s, Carvin has been producing made-to-order top-notch guitar porn in their San Diego custom shop for discerning players of all kinds, including the likes of Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Allan Holdsworth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Queensryche, Dweezil Zappa, Warrant, Vinnie Vincent, and Vince Neil (okay, so they were big in the 80’s). Recently they have given their guitar models some fresh, modern upgrades and added a new lineup of younger players to their roster, including Javier Reyes of Animals as Leaders, Francesco Filigoi of Abiogenesis, Raad Soudani of Volumes, and Aaron Marshall of Intervals.

They have a reputation as being the player’s guitar builder, and although in the 80’s they produced some pointy DayGlo abominations for Aqua Net addicts, a perusal of their picture gallery on Facebook will show that they have classed it up quite a bit, with top of the line figured tops, and some elegant new models to use as a basis for your custom axe. Did I mention that everything is factory direct, so they’re ridiculously reasonably priced?

Having noticed all this, I convinced them to send me one of their new TL70s to try out for a week. These new tele-style 7 strings caught my eye by being not a superstrat 7, so I had to get a hold of one. Of course, the one they sent me had to be the bright green one, but I’ll take what I can get. It also kept me from being seduced by the aforementioned outward appointments, and instead was able to focus on the playability, tone, and feel of the instrument.

Carvin did not disappoint. The guitar felt great from the moment I picked it up, and I was very loath to send it back. I spent so much of the time formulating in my head what mine would look like if I ordered one that I had to put it back in the case so I could get any damn work done.

I think the particular guitar I played was a great example of the Carvin ideal, their model design with your personality splattered all over it. This keeps things from getting too out of control, like some full-custom, built-from-scratch atrocities I’ve seen that have too much wishful thinking in their design and no restraint. Mine wouldn’t be bright green, but if there were no bright green personalities in the world, then it wouldn’t be a fun place to live, would it?

So what color is yours?

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As Editor-in-Chief of Gear Gods, I've been feeding your sick instrument fetishism and trying unsuccessfully to hide my own since 2013. I studied music on both coasts (Berklee and SSU) and now I'm just trying to put my degree to some use. That's a music degree, not an English one. I'm sure you noticed.