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;)  This pic was taken after I cleaned the thing up too....

Seriously though let's talk about Ov*tions.

Although we tend to make fun of them from time to time and there is no shortage of folks who really don't like working with them, me included.... I wanted to ask my friends on FRETS what it is exactly that you don't like about Ov*tions?

Recently when we were discussing them someone posted, it may have been Jeff but I'm not sure, that they did serve a purpose when introduced as being for their day one of the first acoustics with on-board electronics.  This is most certainly true and likely why they developed a following with some well-known pros such as Keith Partridge..... ;)

For me here is what I see that troubles me, specifically:

1)  Truss rod access.  I didn't get into Lutherie to perform colonoscopies on instruments....  Taking off the back access hatch... and inserting either your arm or a three-mile long allen wrench blindly since my arm is now in the way does not seem like an improvement on the other alternatives to me....  Serviceability rating...... 1 out of a possible 5....

2)  The shape wants to slide out of my lap and does not feel comfortable to play either.  Ergonomics rating 1 out of a possible 5.....

3)  This one had crappy little tuners that are spaced too closely and can twist into each other if loose....  Engineering and design rating 2 out of a possible 5...

4)  Styling:  I think that these things are gaudy and the genuine, imitation, plastic lightening bolts are just butt ugly too....  Mind you I am not a traditionalist either and greatly appreciate innovation such as from Ken Parker.  Design ascetics rating - subjective but for me 1 out of a possible 5...

5)  This one had the electronics not working because they were dirty.  Where they are located although not exclusive to Ov*tion is part of the problem in that dust had settled into the controls from the outside of the instrument.  After cleaning things it all worked again and now sounds just as terrible as ever.... ;)  Serviceability rating 3 out of 5...

6)  What were they thinking with this bridge and saddle arrangement????  The saddle is shimmed with PCB board like material, fiberglass meaning it's what they had access to with the technology that they used to produce these things.  But I question the choice of materials in such an important location and also question why any shims at all under the saddle.  Design rating 1 out of 5.....

7)  Copious use of epoxies and not even vintage "tone epoxy" mind you but just some awful stuff that might be best for aerospace use in high vibration environments such as rotary wing aircraft.  But wait..... helicopters were Kaman's (parent company back in the day to Ov*tion) core competency so again they had lots of epoxy laying around along with the Locktite too... Serviceability rating 0 out of possible 5....

So that's it from me in terms of my complaints at least about this one.  Can't you tell that I am fond of Ov*tions.....;)

What's on your minds about Ov*tions and what you do or do not appreciate about them?

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I've resisted the temptation to work on them mostly because I never liked them. but I've played many of them.

The first thing I think that comes to mind is "heavy".  I've never held one that didn't feel out of balance to me. I don't like the bowl shape for the usual reason that it slides off your lap. I have never heard one that didn't sound "choked" when played unplugged and never particularly liked them when they were amplified. 

Basically, I never found one that had any redeeming qualities that off set the price.  

Expansion and contraction of the wood top vs the non-expanding non-contracting bowl is the rub for me.  It's not if but when will it start cracking?

As far as I recall I have only worked on 3 of them

The first back in the 70's a mates guitar, the truss rod would only hold the neck straight for 30minutes or so.

Then two in the same week earlier this year. the first a late 80's was just "OK"

The second a new chinese built had a paper thin shell at the strap button and reeked of "cheap"

They were always considered a premium guitar here being USA made but never had much in the way of sound quality. As the first real plug and play stage acoustic they did sell well.

I like the lightning bolt ports. I bet if I bought the guitar, I'd be able to play faster because lightening travels at, like faster than the speed of sound...and hotter too, because it's red.

I don't know if y'all heard, but FMIC (owners of Ovation) has ceased production of USA built Ovations. Perhaps this is the 'shapes of things to come' news we've all been waiting for.  BTW: If there's one thing that Ovation should always be held in contempt for is their decision to discontinue Hamer Electric guitars. Until Bill Collings started building electrics, they were the finest USA made guitars built by a medium sized manufacturer .  Oh well.....

Why did (do) Ovations still sell so well? Pricing due to cheap mfg methods, TONS of advertizing and their rampant availability on the used market.

It's nearly in-debateable that they're NOT 'fine, heirloom instruments'. Also common knowledge is that even their engineers and ad people have never listened to one plugged in. If so, they wouldn't be able to sleep at night from guilt OR from laughing all night that they just sold some sucker another guitar. My goodness, an entry level Artec system eats Ovation's over-priced, overrated highly glamorized piezo quack generator for lunch. Summary: they eventually fell for their own hype.

Yep, back when they came out, they sold like hotcakes because they were the only show in town. Well, that or an acoustic with a miserable DeArmond sound hole mag pup.  Let me tell you, the only thing worse sounding than an Ovation through a cranked PA is the same guitar run through a Twin Reverb. Hmmmm, a blessing in disguise is that what we now know as "acoustic (full range, low gain) amps" were born to 'assist' Ovations. What's funny is that their MORE successful competitor was Takamine guitars. How'd they deal with it? They bought them.

Charlie Kaman liked guitars so he started making them. Mr. MacDonald began selling hamburgers because he liked them. Both gentlemen have been extremely successful in lowering the standards and expectations of the buying public to the point where real quality and true value are sacrificed for speed & convenience. That has resulted in two companies with world wide name recognition, whose products have become the punch line of jokes as THE least desirable products in their respective categories.

In closing...here's my MAJOR complaint with Ovations: That butt ugly headstock. ;) Yuck!!!!

I think you covered most of my complaints, Hesh, except I reject them on the general principle that guitars should be made of wood. Then again, I like plaster rather than sheetrock and wood floors rather than carpet. Call me "stuck in the past."

Sorry, but there isn't one thing I appreciate about Ovations.  And that goes double for Applause

That said, I do respect the players who choose to use them, for whatever reason.  Because of that I will work on them when it's practical to do so.

I don't know about the veracity of the little folk tale we've heard around here, but as I understand it, Charlie Kaman (an accomplished guitarist) wanted to get into the guitar business and made some attempt to buy the Martin company.  Failing that he called on his engineers to design the product we all know today, using the composites Kaman was making into helicopter blades and anti-personnel mines.

Well, there's one thing I appreciate about them. The company, rather, not the instruments. Every time I contacted them because I needed some obscure part for some out-of-production model they said "sure, got it right here; what's your address?" Never a question; never a charge. I was never a dealer nor did I have any warranty affiliation. I wish some other big MI manufacturers had that attitude.
Frank

The thing I don't like about them is they are not a Martin!

I think wives don't like them to as I have bought two of them that the women had bashed them over their spouses heads and destroyed the tops!
I made good money of the cases tho!
If any one wants these the price right!
Ron

Sorry Ron...already know where there are heap of them: 

When I first started this job 16 years ago I walked into the workshop of a most respected Luthier and repairman and immediately spied a stack of disheveled looking guitars gathering dust on top of a storage area - heaps of them and necks etc......I asked my man what was that all about and he just looked at me and said -  "Ovations"..........

"Sorry, but there isn't one thing I appreciate about Ovations.  And that goes double for Applause"

Every instrument can have it's strengths to be appreciated. 

If you enjoy boating in still water lakes and ponds, you couldn't ask for a better guitar than an Applause. When you want to put it down you can just toss it overboard, and the aluminum neck will sink downward, allowing the "guitar" to bob around with the soundhole just above the waterline, ready to be plucked out whenever you feel like playing again. 


Some foam floatation sprayed inside might be a good precaution when paddling in heavy waves, but I don't expect this would damage the tone much. 

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