Carvin began offering bass and guitar kits in 1997, giving players an inexpensive way of making their own totally unique instruments.  These kits include the exact same components used in basses assembled by Carvin, and are pre-drilled, and include all instructions.

Coyote's BK4
Carvin BBS ID: coyote

How do you make a bass kit even cooler?  Get Victor Wooton to sign the headstock!  That's exactly what Rob did on his kit.  In addition, it has a swamp ash body, maple neck and black hardware.


Mike Mills' Rebel Bass
Carvin BBS ID: Mike in Colorado

This is absolutely one of the coolest basses I have ever seen.  Even the name is cool (get the pun? Rebel Base = Rebel Bass - maybe you have to be a Star Wars fan).  Yep, that's the Millennium Falcon adorned on the body of this BK4.  Such a great idea, and wonderfully done.  I'll let Mike explain it to you...

"My wonderful wife bought me the Bass kit for my Birthday (All those hints and catalogs left in strategic locations actually worked!). It has a humbucker with a coil splitter, active electronics and a string through body.   I had originally planned to do some carving in it but was struck with the idea that I used right after ordering.  I was impressed with the kit on a whole, the wood grain of the body was beautiful and it was a shame to have to paint over it.  (In hind site, tung oil is the way to go.)  I used nitrocellulose lacquer that I ordered in aerosol cans from "Guitar ReRanch".  I applied about six coats of black on top of three coats of primer and three coats of sealer.  After sanding down the final coat of black, I applied the graphics.  This was a trick in itself.  I didn't want to paint it on and decoupage would look lumpy and lame.  I came across a company called Beldecal that makes water decals for inkjet printers."

It took sometime to acquire the picture that I was looking for, I final got it from a model builder in Spain.  I found a small picture online and he was kind enough to send me a higher resolution photo.  It took two tries to get the headstock decal right.  The first time it said Hyper Bass and had a couple of smaller fighter ships on it.  I didn't like it (partially because it looked very 80's and partially because I made a few mistakes, but we'll get to that later) so I sanded back down to the wood and started over.  I used Elmer’s glue to mask the sides so that I could get a tighter line than with masking tape.  I used some stuff called De Glue Goo to remove it after I finished the final 9 or 12 coats of clear lacquer.  After weeks of painting (usually 3 coats a day three hours apart) I finally got to sanding.  I used 600, 1000, 2000 sand paper, 0000 steel wool, automotive polishing compound,  some black car wax, and finally took my Black and Decker orbital buffer to it...and to my worked!  It took about 3 weeks of work to get the graphics and lacquer applied and set.  It only took about an hour and a half to put it all together.

My many missteps and mistakes included having the hanging body fall from the hook on the ceiling and bounce around on the blankets I had luckily placed on the floor, accidentally buffing through the finish into the wood on the headstock (thus the second decal and logo) ,running out of lacquer with the bass half finished, trying to figure out a way to remove Elmer’s school glue from the headstock (hence the discovery of De Glu Goo), and a plethora of decals that either bled, curled, cracked or tore. Everyday I questioned myself for not taking Carvin's advice and using tung oil, but in the end it came out better than I ever imagined (and sounds better, too!)   The original idea was for the ship to look like a pick guard at first glance and then the fastest ship in the universe at closer inspection.  I had all kinds of ideas for names, Space Bass, Hyper Bass, Hyper Space Bass, Han's Bass Solo etc. In the end I decided I had what the Empire was always searching for, and but never found. The Rebel Bass."

Carvin honored it by naming it the "Bolt Kit Winner" for the latest catalog, July 2002.  I understand they actually ran it past LucasFilms as well - just to make sure there were no ruffled feathers.  And obviously, George and the boys blessed this great creation.  I'm sure Mike is thrilled & proud - way to use the Force, Mike!

Robb Blazey's BK4F
Carvin BBS ID: Japhy

Here's a nice BK4F fretless kit, stained a rich mahogany shade.  Robb says:

"I wanted/needed a new bass, kept thinking about a Carvin.  Due to cash concerns and the desire to do it myself, I decided to build a kit. I used two coats of Minwax GelStain (dark mahogany color) with a bit of light sanding after each coat to give it the 'slightly aged' look. The finish was this stuff called Varathane Oil Finish (for out door furniture). Different than tung oil, gave it a bit of a satiny feel.  The options: String through (alder) body (a must have!) and I originally had it with flatwounds (which nicely matched the chrome hardware), but listening to the recording of a gig, decided I didn't like the twangy sound.  Following Xush's suggestion (thanks Mark!), I switched to Carvin tapewound strings, and now the sound is nice and sweet.

I took picture after picture and found that next to none of them actually made my bass look any good - so of course, as soon as a friend comes over and takes two pictures of me playing - they're both great shots.  The third is all about coincidence: My roommate/guitar player got this older Takamine just before the start of our band.  He'd always told me he'd love for our instruments that matched - first thing I did when he was moving in was show him the new bass!""

Hobophobic's BK4
Carvin BBS ID: hobophobic

Another blow for the lefties!  And this is the first lefty kit featured on the site - and what a beauty!  Hobo says:

"I used a lot of elbow grease (about 7 - 8 hours of prep sanding including sanding back the first few coats of finish until the pores stopped sucking it down) and a clear gloss wiping poly. The same stuff Alembic uses as one of their standard finishes. I'm not sure what brand name they use but, other than that, it's the same stuff. Not as much build as a spray job so we'll see how it holds up.  It sounds great, exactly what I was hoping for. Unplugged it growls like a mad dog (at least compared to my basswood Dean) and plugged in it's just sweet. Bright and punchy with a nice growl and plenty of bottom for what I do. Exactly what I wanted."

Selsaral's BK4
Carvin BBS ID: selsaral

Here's another great looking BK4 kit - there are certainly a lot of skilled builders out there!

This is a stock kit, with the exception of the swamp ash body, which is finished in Velvit oil (honey flavored), which really gives it a great look.

Mark Fisher's BK4

The kits keep rolling in - and here's another beauty, built by Mark Fisher, who is (with his wife, Pam) well-known in the Illinois country music scene - in fact, they were voted Illinois Country Music Association's Vocal Duo of the Year for 4 straight years - way to go!  Mark says:

"Here's the Carvin bass kit I built:  Alder body, Rock Maple bolt-on neck, Ebony fretboard and a tung oil finish.  It's a very "plain vanilla" bass, but I'm really surprised at how good it sounds, especially for the modest investment. I played a Rickenbacker 4001 for 25 years before I quit playing regularly.  The old Rick had a lot of life left in it, so I eBay'ed it and got more out of it than I originally paid for it.  I got the Carvin to use for the 3 - 4 times a year I fill in with other bands, and those I've worked with commented on how good this simple bass sounded.  I wish I'd done it earlier -- that Rickenbacker was one heavy bass!"

Chris Keller's BK4
Carvin BBS ID: Chris Keller

The cool kits keep on rolling in - and this is one of the cooler ones I've seen.  Once upon a time, Carvin offered a color similar to this - back in the big-haired 80's days.  And Chris has done a great job recreating this look.

If you're wondering what that is on the headstock, it's Chris's wife Laura - how's that for a tribute?

Chris has done some other custom Carvin kits, and repairs and refinishes on a variety of Carvin gear - stop by his website and take a look!

John Bieri's BK4
Carvin BBS ID: johnbsharp

When John built his BK4, the final product looked like the photo on the near left.  But after awhile, he re-did it, from the ground up, to become what's in the photo on the far right. The new top is bookmatched Brazilian rosewood, and is just gorgeous.  A huge contrast to the original, which had an alder body, with lacquer coating that has been buffed with #000 steel wool.  Simple, nice, classic.  The original looked great, but the revision is just stunning. 

Here's the headstock of John's BK4.  It's also topped with Brazilian rosewood, with a custom-made burl walnut truss rod cover.  Very nice!

GammaRay's BK4
Carvin BBS ID: gammaray

Another great, well made kit, and very similar to John Bieri's above.  GammaRay says: "Bottom line, I'm ecstatic with this instrument! The workmanship (i.e. Carvin's) is amazing, and assembly was a breeze!

I went with the alder body - I'd owned alder-body guitars and I like the sound. I'd never seen naked alder before (all my guitars were painted), so once the kit arrived, I was a little surprised at alder's red/cinnamon color - not exactly the look I was going for. I played around with some test patches in the neck pocket and electronics cavity and found a stain/finish combination that I thought would work OK. To my relief, everything turned out perfectly - the body has exactly the shade/color/sheen I was shooting for.  The body has one coat of Minwax stain (golden oak is the color), and the Carvin-recommended four coats of Minwax tung oil finish. The neck has five coats of Formby's low-gloss tung oil finish. I'd worked with the Formby's product on many other (non-musical) projects and loved it's satiny feel...I've always thought it'd make a great finish for an instrument neck."

Robert Dodge's BK4 American Flag

I stumbled across this one on E-Bay, and the soon-to-be-former owner was kind enough to send me some higher quality photos that what you get with E-Bay. 

Here's what Bob had to say:

"I put this together as a nod to the MC5.  I've always loved the music and loved the guitar that Wayne had.  The BK4 kit has some extras including active electronics and bridge humbucker.  Great sound and great feel.  The paint job was done by a local artist for a very reasonable price.  Turned out pretty well."

Thanks, Bob - well done!

Update!  I saw this on eBay in early May - so, I guess it's gone on to a new home now...