Guitarists had a lot to
be excited about in 1981. There were several new models, as well
as new options and features for all models. A totally new
high-end instrument would be added, as would a basic guitar for the
player on a budget.
each picture to see the entire catalog page.
There were two profound
and significant changes in 1981. First of all, the introduction
of the "pointy" DC200 body shape. This extraordinarily
popular shape would define Carvin of the 80's, and would still be in
production 25 years later. Additionally, Carvin began offering
Hawaiian koa wood on most models. Although reasonably common
today, this was way ahead of what most other manufacturers were doing
in the early 80's.
The DC200 Koa was
a revolutionary instrument. Many of the appointments were taken
from the DC160, including stereo wiring, phase switching and coil
splitters, as well as gold hardware and MOP block inlays. The
koa wood is what really set this model apart from the rest,
however. The scale length of the DC200 was 24.75", which
was the same as a Les Paul.
The DC200K with block
inlays and chrome hardware was $510.00. With dot inlays and
chrome hardware, it was $460.00. Gold hardware could be added to
either variant for $50.00. The HC11 hardshell case was an
The new DC200 was
also offered in Carvin's standard finishes, which at the time were
either black or natural. The body was constructed of maple, and
the standard fingerboard was ebony, like most other Carvin guitars and
basses in 1981. Maple fingerboards and left-handed models were
The DC200B, with black
finish and dot inlays, was $440.00. The DC200C, with clear
finish and dot inlays, was also $440.00. The DC200BI (black with
block inlays) and DC200CI (clear with block inlays) were
$490.00. The DC120 12-string was $490 in black or clear, with
dot inlays. Gold hardware was available for $50.00.
(above) was still the flagship instrument, even though it was now sharing that
title with the DC200 Koa. This model was made from eith curly or
birdseye maple, with ebony fingerboard, standard gold hardware, standard block
inlays, and phase switching and coil splitters on M22 pickups with dual volume
and dual tone controls. The DC160, in curly or birdseye maple, was
$685.00, and the left-handed model was $715. The HC10 hardshell case was
models, the CM130 (left) and CM140 (right) continued to
be strong sellers. Body construction, materials and electronics
were the same, but the CM140 offered stereo wiring and block inlays
(but no maple fingerboards). The base price of the CM130 was
$395.00 (with an ebony fingerboard) and the base price of the CM140
was $485.00. The CM140 was available in a left-handed model; the
CM130 was not. Gold-plated hardware was offered on either.
The DC150 (left)
was 5 years old in 1981, but showed no signs of fading in
popularity. Like the DC200, it was available in black or
natural, with ebony or maple fingerboard. Stereo wiring and
phase/coil switches were standard. The DC150CM (clear
finish/maple fingerboard) was $415.00, and the DC150BE (black/ebony)
or DC150CE (clear/ebony) were $435.00. A left-handed model was
offered for $30.00 more, and gold hardware was offered for $50.00.
(right) was a no-frills guitar, and was a great value at only $298.00
in black or clear finishes. This is one of the few modern
Carvins to have a rosewood fingerboard, and it sported no-frills
electronics (but still used the M22 pickups used in other
models). This is the only year the DC100 with a rosewood
fingerboard was produced; in 1982, ebony would be used.
the 1950's, 1960's and early 1970's, Carvin bought necks from
Höfner, and used them on their own guitars and basses.
Carvin's relationship with Höfner began in the mid-1950's, and would
last until the late 1980's.
is a late 60's Höfner Verithin, which in turn was called the model
4574 in the US. Although there were some differences, such
as the bridge/tailpiece assembly and pickups, the body was
unmistakably identical to the SH225.
Also new for 1981 was the
SH225. Although it's somewhat common knowledge today, it was
not widely known in 1981 that Höfner made the bodies and necks for these
instruments (see sidebar, right), and Carvin finished and assembled them.
This semi-hollow Venetian (rounded) cutaway archtop was constructed with
a maple neck, and light curly maple top, back and side, with ebony
fingerboard and body binding. The electronics were the same as
other Carvin models, and could be had with or without stereo wiring,
phase and coil switches. Interestingly, a black plastic pickguard
was optional. The basic SH225 was $585, and the SH225 Stereo was
$635. Gold hardware was an additional $50.00, and the HC18
form-fit hardshell case was $75.00.
Also available in 1981
was the DN612 and DN640, which were basically the same as the
1980 model, with the exception of the control layout on the top neck.
Take a look at the knobs on the '80 model - the guitar and bass
volume/tone controls were a mirror image of each other, whereas the
'81 (and later) used the same layout. This was the design that
would remain for these models until neck-thru design was introduced in
The DN640, in black or
clear finish, sold for $765. The DN612, also available in black
or clear finish, was $795. Gold hardware was an additional $100,
and the HC15 case was $75. Left-handed models or maple
fingerboards were not available.