The Kiesel name has been around in the guitar industry since the Kiesel company was founded in 1946 by Lowell Kiesel. In 1950 the name was changed to Carvin to go factory direct and leave the dealer network behind. In 1970 Mark Kiesel (Lowell’s son) took over the guitar division of Carvin and started to develop the Custom Shop by adding more options, features, and improving the designs. In 1995 Jeff Kiesel (Mark’s son) was brought to help Mark with the custom shop and sales. 2015 was a massive year for the company,
Kiesel Guitars was reborn thanks to the efforts of Mark and Jeff Kiesel wanting to focus exclusively on Instruments and pay respects to Lowell Kiesel and go back to the original company name and logo. The Carvin Guitars name, brand, models, designs, and patents are owned by the same owner(s) since 1970 Mark and Jeff Kiesel who own Kiesel Guitars. Carvin Guitars will continue to be made alongside Kiesel Guitars and will be serviced and supported as if there was no name change.
Why buy an instrument off the shelf from a big-box retailer that’s exactly like thousands of other instruments? With the Kiesel Guitars Custom Shop, you can choose from hundreds of options for your new guitar or bass, including body & neck woods; exotic top woods such as AAAA flamed or quilted maple, flamed koa, figured walnut or flamed spalted maple; solid, metallic, translucent, and deep triple step stains and finishes; fingerboard woods; inlays; electronics; pickups; hardware and much more. Every Kiesel Custom Shop instrument is made entirely at there Escondido facility by our skilled craftsmen & luthiers.
Kiesel Guitars has eliminated the middleman markup by selling directly to you, you can own a custom-made, hand-built guitar without the custom-made, hand-built price. With hundreds of Custom Shop options, you can order your new Kiesel guitar or bass that suits your playing style and personal tastes, and be the proud owner of a unique instrument that will last a lifetime. With over 60 years in the industry, Kiesel Guitars has perfected the art and science of building guitars, which allows them to create your Custom Shop masterpiece in as little as 7 – 10 weeks.
Great care is taken in building your Custom Shop instrument. Kiesel Guitars hand-selects only the best woods for our instruments, and all of there necks and fingerboards undergo a lengthy conditioning process in their de-humidification chambers to remove any stress in the wood and prevent future warping or twisting. There precision CNC machines sculpt every instrument to extremely high tolerances, and our woodworkers, painters, and technicians ensure even the smallest detail is perfect.
Jason Becker has been a long time endorser of Carvin Guitars, and Kiesel offers three tribute models in his honor. The JB200C is based on the original DC200 models that Jason played, while the newer JB24 “Numbers” guitar is based on Jason’s original Peavey custom model with the numbered fretboard markers. The JB100 entry level Jason Becker signature guitar was released in 2017.
Allan Holdsworth has several models based on his designs, including headless and MIDI synth variants. Frank Gambale’s model is a semi-hollow carved top, available with MIDI synth. Greg Howe’s has 24-fret bolt-on signature models. Neil Zaza’s signature is based on the Carved Top model line, featuring his preferred control layout. Craig Chaquico has a signature Thinline acoustic/electric model. Lee McKinney of Born of Osiris has signature six and seven-string models, based on the DC600 model line. Bassist Brian Bromberg has a series of basses based on a body of his design, while Roy Vogt has a signature six-string model based on the Vanquish model. Chris Letchford of Scale the Summit has a headless multiscale signature series, with a “set through neck.”
You can start your custom shop build with as little as 20% down, and with Kiesels 10-Day Trial, there’s no risk. If you don’t like it, you can send it back to Kiesel no questions asked! If you don’t want to wait for your guitar to be built, they offer a full selection of new in stock instruments that are ready for immediate shipment.
I checked them out. I played one. It was butter, set up already, playable, and effortless in the context of interaction between my fingers, the neck, and strings. It is rare to find such a quality instrument ready to go off the shelf so to speak. I played all kinds of chords, licks, riffs, and was blown away by the guitar’s versatility, and its feel. It was like playing a work of art. There is no doubt that every guitar and bass is handcrafted with love for the player. For those who have never been at NAMM, this is part of the context of my statements. There is a countless number of guitars and bass manufactures there. Honestly, only a handful is viable for the active musician. This is one company that deserves every player’s attention. Check them out for yourself; you will be glad you did.
Tony Lepre contributed to this story. Photos by Renee Jahnke.