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Ovation Acoustic Guitars In The 1970s

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Torren61, Nov 9, 2020.

  1. Torren61

    Torren61 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I often click on YouTube videos of people playing live in the mid '70s and it just seems like there was a few years where EVERYONE was using Ovation acoustics. Is that just confirmation bias or did they have the market covered for a few years back then?

    Should I be looking for a mid 1970s Ovation? I really don't like the bowl back design. To me, they're very uncomfortable as they want to slip out from my grasp, lol.
     
  2. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    They were really popular back then. I remember my best friend got a Celebrity for Christmas.

    Personally, I don't like Ovations. I've probably played a dozen over the years, some of them expensive models, and none of them gelled with me at all. Great tone and terrible action. Plus you gotta use a strap, even if you're sitting in a chair - the round body won't stay in your lap.
     
  3. fretWalkr

    fretWalkr Tele-Meister

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    It was one of the first acoustics with a pickup built in. It had that pizeo sound thats not great but you could plug it in and play with a band. There weren't many options then except to mic it or have an electric stlye mag pickup installed.

    The ovations action and playability were great but you had to put up with the awful round back design.
     
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  4. gitold

    gitold Poster Extraordinaire

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    Everybody was using them in the 70’s until Takamine took over in the 80’s. The electronics on the Ovations were just better then most of the sticky add on ones back then. I had one in the early 70’s and loved it. Looking back it was a hunk o junk with a great, very playable neck and a passable electric sound. The old MIA ones that haven’t fallen apart aren’t selling for vintage prices that’s for sure. Neck came off on mine. Had it fixed and gave it to my little brother. He was playing for his girl friend and it snapped off again and that was the end of it.
     
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  5. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    It’s like trying to snuggle with a tortoise...
     
  6. FenderBenderNY

    FenderBenderNY TDPRI Member

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    My uncle was once telling me how when he was learning guitar in the late ‘70s he bought an “Ovarius” and whenever I see an Ovation I call it an Ovarius in my head. They must’ve been pretty groundbreaking at the time, even Clarence White and Tony Rice were playing them.
     
  7. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    There were some heavyweight endorsers like Glen Campbell and as mentioned above one of the first acoustic/electrics available, they were rugged as well. They did play well but other than nostalgia I don't know why you would want one.
     
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  8. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    So if you melded a Fender and an Ovation would it be a Strat-Ovarius?
     
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  9. srblue5

    srblue5 Tele-Meister

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    Must've been both trendy and practical back then.

    I remember thumbing through a book on Ovation guitars many years ago and I think their "artists relations"/PR pushes were pretty aggressive (for lack of a better word). IIRC, they provided guitars to all of the members of Paul McCartney & Wings and their partners at a discount. They also went down to the theatre where Simon & Garfunkel were rehearsing for their Central Park reunion concert and convinced the guitarists in the band to switch to Ovation (which is why Paul Simon played a black Ovation guitar for most of that concert instead of his usual black Yamaha from that era). They seem to have fallen out of favour pretty quickly, since I haven't seen McCartney play one since the mid-70s and I think Simon's ended up with Carrie Fisher.

    As a kid who idolized Paul Simon (he was my first guitar hero and the main reason I play today), I thought his black Ovation guitar looked cool but most of the other ones I've seen were kinda ugly, in my opinion. I remember seeing Billy Joel's guitarists (David Brown & Russell Javors) playing sunburst ones, which just looked awful to me. Don't ask me why. ()
     
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  10. Torren61

    Torren61 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Glenn Campbell, Nancy Wilson, David Gates and I recently saw Brian May using a newer one.
     
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  11. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    They were very common!
    I got a deep bowl Legend model, without a pickup around 1975.
    I liked it.
    It was fairly loud, and had a nice, comfortable neck.
    A lot of performing players used them.
    When Takamine guitars arrived, Ovation acoustic-electric guitars became less popular.
    The round backs of the Ovation guitars never really worked for most players, IMO.
    Their piezo pickups left a lot to be desired, too.
    Takamine guitars were more traditional looking, and their “palathetic” pickup sounded better.
     
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  12. Bartholomew3

    Bartholomew3 Friend of Leo's

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    Sux for recording because it slips away when sitting.

    Was given one to use on a session & never again but some of them were peretty good standing.
     
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  13. Rob J

    Rob J Tele-Meister

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    I bought an Ovation in the early 70's. All of the musicians of the day playing them had a big influence on me. Up until then my only guitars were cheapo mail order guitars that a lot of us started out with in those days.

    The Ovation was my first "good" guitar and I played that thing to death. I had it all the way up to around 2008 when I ended up giving it to a guy who wanted to learn to play and who didn't have a guitar. I probably didn't do him any favors because by then, the pickup had rotted away and the top was starting to lift around the saddle area. I looked into getting it repaired but was told that the cost wouldn't be worth it. By then I had other guitars and the Ovation was just gathering dust in the closet.

    I'll admit that the rounded back was problematic at times, especially when playing while sitting but it was also part of what made this guitar unique. I also really liked the shape of the Ovation headstocks that sat them apart from ordinary conventional looking acoustics.

    My Ovation

    Ovation-sm.jpg
     
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  14. bcorig

    bcorig Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I bought my Balladeer at a music shop in Pasadena in ‘79 mostly because it was less expensive than s comparable Yamaha or Guild. Martin, monetarily, was out of the question. I still have it, it still holds intonation although it has been modified to retard and reverse the face buckling at the bridge. After 41 years, its a truck having been lugged to the beach, the mountains.
    In 1995 I bought a new thin body piezo Legend and, of all my guitars the neck is far and away easiest to play. It also has stayed together remarkably well.
    I cannot say the sound of the Piezo is all that great, I have a Takamine Pro Series 4 for that. But I love the way the both Legends play.
    I see some of the newer models have a contoured body which look more comfortable but I have major quality concerns after looking at their MIK wares in successively smaller booths NAMM 2018, 2019 and 2020.
    The first two images are my elderly MIA Ovations. The third is a photo from 2019 NAMM which appears to be an one-off attempt at a full wood conventional guitar from what they identified as their custom shop somewhere in California.
    Sad. I think they were great guitars.
    836A1FC4-D0C7-4365-B4D8-114FD57FE915.jpeg 2BC89B2D-70F8-4130-ABDA-91E867B61814.jpeg 9BCE4CA7-07DB-452A-BCB7-081AB0695394.jpeg
     
  15. avagadro

    avagadro Tele-Meister

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    I bought a new Ovation Balladeer in the mid 70's. Really nice neck and great projection, even with older strings. Those necks had an I beam type metal core to keep them from twisting. Their sound is good but different, like comparing an organ to a piano, the Ovation sound does not have all the vibratory overtones that a good solid wood body generates. As far as playing, they played well whether sitting or standing. They had a thin rubber strip to keep the body from sliding off your lap. My strip fell off after 10 years and while it was a little slippery when seated it was no great chore to control. I have heard people complain about the hard edges on both acoustic and electric guitars, it's just a matter of ergonomics and adapting your playing position. I played one of their higher end Adamas series once, it was interesting. Kamen, the inventor, new that good tone wood was being used up faster than it could be replenished. The Adamas had a wood core covered in a fiber matrix, not certain if it was carbon fiber. Definitely ahead of it's time. The larger bodies seemed to fade out while the skinny thin bodies continued to be somewhat popular. I hear the company has been re-opened, if I had the extra cash I'd send mine in to be refurbished. I had a friend that owned a Celebrity, a knock off. They may have been part of Kaman at one time. Their neck is very unusual, the frets seem to actually be a part of the neck, like a casting, do not think their frets could be replaced. Something to watch out for. I remember John McGloughlin used an Ovation on his My Goals Beyond album, nothing like a D28 but it sure sounded good.
     
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  16. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

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    I bought one in 72 or 73. One of the very first to hit Illinois. I haven’t played it for years .... but there is a good chance it is in tune.

    I also have an OLDER one. 12 fret neck. REALLY deep, shiny bowl. Slotted headstock.
     
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  17. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

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    Tony Rice used, and recorded with, an Ovation for a bit.
     
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  18. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Kaman Music started the Ovation line, and they were the first U.S. distributor of Takamines. I think they sold both concerns to Fender, who spun them off before long, around '07 or so.

    Ovation made some pretty cool electrics. I used to wish I had a single-coil Viper.

    P.S. Was Ovation first with pinless bridges? I've never noticed, were all Ovations like that?
     
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  19. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    you have to understand that how an Ovations sounds today is how it will sound in the future the fibre composit backs will not mellow over time , that was a strong point at the time. I like ovations I owned a 335 type guitar in cherry red , but could not play it in reverse so I sold it.
     
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  20. FenderLover

    FenderLover Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Ovation electric Balladeer cutaway was my first real acoustic. Never had a problem with it sitting or standing. It was borrowed many times because it could be plugged in and didn't sound bad at all. Many endorsements and everyone had one. Dropped a beer on it and cracked the top.
     
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