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Carvin 212 Bel Air Combo

Long before we were shopping online for our musical gear or ordering from huge discount stores Carvin led the way in the mail-order industry, servicing the home shopper for more than half a century. However, being skeptical about purchasing something as personal as a guitar or amp without first playing it, I welcomed the opportunity to check out Carvin’s Bel Air combo amp. The 212 is a 50-watt, all-tube, vintage-styled guitar amp, powered by four EL84’s and five 12AX7 tubes, two 12-inch speakers, and priced at $559.99 (shipping is extra).

The key word here is unequivocally vintage. The poplar wood cabinet is covered in an appealing yellow-tweed/ox-blood grill cloth reminiscent of the 1950s amps. As you might expect from a vintage amp there are not a lot of bells and whistles. No digital effects, presets or memory locations for storing settings. The front of the amp has a single input driving two channels: clean and overdrive. Each channel has a dedicated treble, middle and bass control; channel two has a volume and overdrive control. A master reverb control functions for both channels.

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