We're compiling the best Holiday 2016 music gear deals. See them here.
This is the last Hofner-made Carvin model I am aware of. The SH225 is an 80s Hofner verithin model with a Carvin headstock that was hand crafted in Germany out of European tone woods usually reserved for orchestral instruments. All of the inlay work is beautiful and the unbound ebony fretboard is a really lovely piece of wood. The sort of ebony usually reserved for Steinway keys.These guitars are only 2/3s the depth of a 335 or less and they are really light and resonant.
Now the bad news. Hofner would ship these bad boy over to LA raw, unfinished. Carvin then routed for their crappy 80s humbuckers, added lots of questionable electronics, and set them up for weird bridges and things. Worse still they glopped on thick layers of polyesther resin. It must not have been self-leveling because the finish work has some real sketchy spots. Now, everywhere I've accidentally chipped this finish I find another thick layer of some kind of white primer that reminds me of the stuff I roll onto new drywall! Mine is a solid black one and for years I assumed some of these had unbound bodies as well as the common ubound fretboard... but time reveals all wounds (or something) and as this thing has aged I have noticed that Carvin just sprayed over the multi-ply body binding that a hand-worker in West Germany (this was made while the Berlin Wall was still standing, kids) probably spent days getting just right. After 30-odd years the finish over the binding is cracking and coming away revealing the utter barbarity of the spray booth employees at Carvin in the 80s.
The pots in this guitar are crap. Also, I guess to make up for the intolerable muddiness of their shallow-coil ceramic buckers (the routs are not deep enough as stock to accommodate any legit bucker in Gibson, Gretsch, Guild or whoever else's format), carvin (henceforth lower-cased for spite) added 2 coil taps and a phase switch using these awful mini-switches that have failed over and over on me since the late 90s. The guitar is also wired with a dual output control plate with switching jacks for stereo operation. These jacks are also utter junk and have given me nothing but grief.
The Schaller M1 tuners are great, but for reasons defying logic, carvin decided to eqip this model with a 1 piece Schaller bridge/fine-tuning-tailpiece combo. The bridge is really heavy, but the fine tuning assembly and 2 bolt attachment prevent the strings from transmitting much bass into the block and wings making this guitar terribly thin in tone acoustically as well as plugged in.
This was my 2nd 'good' guitar. Right now she is retired pending major surgery that I just keep putting off. I miss my Guild Starfire 1 even though she only had a neck pickup. Bad trade. You live and learn. I give the carvin SH-225S 3 stars, but only because the German craftsmanship and quality of wood is so spectacular.