Carvin was founded in 1946 by Lowell C. Kiesel, as the L. C. Kiesel Company.  He started by manufacturing aftermarket pickups for steel guitars, then began making a few models of basic lap steel guitars.  In 1949, the name was changed to Carvin (from his two eldest sons, Carson and Gavin; coincidentally, Carson Kiesel was born June 4, 1946 - the same year the Kiesel Company was founded).  Therefore, any instrument or amplifier with a Kiesel badge on it can be dated from 1946-1949; unfortunately, more specific dating is nearly impossible, although there are some clues based on the logos.

The instruments shown here have been spotted in various places online - unfortunately, information on these is quite scare.  If anyone can fill in the blanks, please contact the webmaster.




1946 Kiesel Lap Steel

The Webmaster's Kiesel Lap Steel

This is a rare piece of Carvin history.  It's a 1946 Kiesel lap steel guitar.  Kiesel was the precursor to Carvin, founded by Lowell Kiesel in 1946, which makes this one of the earliest Carvin instruments ever made.  Production on this model was pretty limited, and there are probably less than a dozen examples still around.  This one is in excellent condition, and it all original, including the case.  Like other early Kiesel instruments, it's made from Bakelite (a synthetic plastic patented in 1907), with a lucite fingerboard.  The scale length is 22.5".  I added this to the Museum collection in January 2008.
1946 Kiesel Lap Steel

Jim Rushton's Kiesel Lap Steel

This is one of the earliest Kiesel instruments produced.  It's from about 1948 or possibly early 1949, during the period after Lowell Kiesel relocated from Gothenburg Nebraska to Los Angeles (see the "patent" logo on the back of the headstock below).  These early lap-steels were made from Bakelite, and had 24 frets with a single pickup, volume and tone controls.


These are most likely the earliest Kiesel lap steels.  It appears to be more "primitive" in materials than the model above.  Like the above model, it has volume and tone controls, as well as a single pickup.  This is also most likely from 1946.

On the left is another example of the model shown below.


Here's a Kiesel lap steel similar to the one above. This one probably came out after the one at the top of the page (since it looks a little more refined), but before the one immediately below, making it most likely a late 1946 model.  Note that it doesn't have a separate fingerboard, but simply has fret lines and markers painted onto the neck which is molded into the body.  Additionally, the tuners and pickup cover look to be in too good of condition to be original, although the case probably is original.

 

 


This is one of the nicer vintage Kiesel's spotted online.  As are all Kiesel lap steels, this is from the mid-to-late 1940's, and like steel guitars by other manufacturers of the era, has a Bakelite body and plastic fingerboard.  This one also had volume and tone controls, and presumably, an early iteration of the Carvin AP-6 pickup.



Here are additional examples of the same model, although not in as good condition.  The logo below, and the two pictures on the left are from the same instrument.

Most likely, this logo indicated the instrument is from 1946.

On the right is another one of these models, in better condition.


Here's a Kiesel Bakelite lap steel from the late 1940's.  The Kiesel Company had started in California in 1946, then moved to Gothenberg, Nebraska in 1947, the back to Los Angeles in 1948.  Therefore, instruments with this badging on it are from either 1948 or 1949 (the Carvin name replaced the Kiesel badge in 1949).  In 1947, an identical logo was used, but listed Gothenburg as Carvin's home base (see it at the top of the page).


Here's another model similar to the one above.  This one looks to have original knobs, as well a the original case.  Notice that this one, although nearly identical to the one above, is actually a Carvin, not a Kiesel (note the headstock decal) - therefore, it's probably from around 1950.


This is a model 3-HGA amplifier from the late 1940's.