If you’re curious whether Ovation guitars are any good, then you’ve come to the right post.
Let’s take a close look at this brand.
Ovation Guitars: Background
The guitar evolved over the years, bringing some new twists to its basic design.
At some point, electric and acoustic guitars started getting more and more similar.
And now, we have some “hybrids,” so to speak.
I’m talking about acoustic guitars with piezo sensors for pickups and onboard active preamps.
One of the companies that stands out within this concept is Ovation.
Their story goes way back to the 1960s and a man named Charles Kaman.
And yes, that’s the same guy who founded the helicopter company in the 1940s.
As the Kaman Corporation changed since its inception, it spread into other ventures.
We could say that Charles was as innovative in guitar design as he was in aeronautics.
The earliest Ovation guitars were introduced in the 1960s.
Commercial production began in 1966 and worked as a subsidiary for KMCMusicorp.
It was also part of the larger Kaman company.
What’s weird is that these earliest models were a collab between aeronautics engineers and luthiers.
The main thing was the use of some unusual materials.
They came up with a synthetic back that’s paired with a regular wooden body top.
In order to keep the instrument’s structural integrity intact, they opted for a parabolic one-piece synthetic back.
After setting up this shape, they developed a material called Lyracord.
It’s a combo of glass filaments and resin.
Ovation guitars retain the same design to this day.
They’re well known for sharper tone, great sustain, and great projection.
In 2008, KMCMusicorp, and thus Ovation, was bought by Fender.
In 2014, Fender moved all production overseas.
A year later, Drum Workshop got the Ovation brand and brought back US-based production for some high-end models.
But most Ovation guitars are still made in Korea.
Does Ovation Make Electric Guitars?
It’s also worth noting that Ovation focuses solely on acoustic guitars, and some ukuleles, with onboard electronics.
There was a period when they had regular electric guitars, which are sort of popular as collectors’ items today.
We usually refer to Ovation and similar guitars as “electro acoustic.”
But these are essentially acoustic guitars with onboard electronics.
You can plug them straight into a PA or even a guitar amp.
Some Notable Ovation Guitar Models Today
Moving the production overseas probably didn’t sit well with all of their fans.
However, I’d say that what Ovation makes in Korea is pretty great.
Although the basic design of all of the Ovation guitars is pretty much the same, they have plenty of different models to offer.
The diversity comes down to soundhole design, electronics, materials, and some aesthetic features.
But let’s start with the basics.
Ovation produces almost all of their instruments in Korea.
The only series made in the USA is Adamas.
We also know these as Ovation Custom Shop guitars.
Needless to say, these instruments are something else, although they’re incredibly expensive.
Adamas series, to my knowledge, has 10 or so models.
All but one have the regular design with Ovation’s signature Epaulets soundhole design.
“Epaulet” refers to those smaller specially designed soundholes on the instrument’s upper bout.
A lot of the guitars have a single-cutaway design, but there are also regular-body models that have Epaulets on both sides of the upper bout.
The Adamas model that stands out is M80 which comes with a super-thin carbon fiber top.
Its back is made out of Ovation’s well-known composite materials, while the soundhole design looks completely different.
This is one of the company’s most expensive guitars and you can check it out in the video below.
Adamas I GT is one of their best models, which also comes with a carbon fiber top.
There’s a beautiful walnut neck on it, as well as a walnut fingerboard, and an out-of-this-world carved headstock.
I believe this is their most expensive model as of this writing.
They also come in both cutaway and non-cutaway forms.
You can check it out below.
The rest of the Adamas models all rock carbon fiber tops and specially-designed backs.
Although it may seem controversial to some, these guitars sound better than most high-end stuff on the market.
Other Ovation Guitars
Of course, most Ovation guitars are made in Korea, although there’s some high-end stuff in this category as well.
There’s a variety of models, including guitars with regular soundholes and Epaulets.
What’s more, they even offer 12-string and double-neck models.
Here are their current series:
- Main Street (aka Main Stage)
- Exotic Woods Collection
- Timeless Collection
- Mod TX Collection
- Signature Collection
- Celebrity Collection
Applause is the cheapest one, offering some basic Ovation features.
However, even these cheaper models seem to be reliable and sound pretty good.
Not to mention they have relatively low action and comfortable necks.
Here’s one of the models in action.
However, when you use their electronics, these cheaper models sound kind of like clean electric guitars.
Not that this is a bad thing, but some players might not prefer them.
Timeless series, on the other hand, give more of an “organic” kind of tone, so to speak.
The series also includes some incredible nylon-string models.
At the same time, they also retain those high-end type of necks, like 5-piece configurations.
In my honest opinion, these guitars bring high-end qualities at a more reasonable price.
Sure, they’re somewhat expensive as well, but they easily outperform a lot of the other guitars in their price range.
Not to mention their awesome hardware where they really stepped up the game.
Here’s what one of these bad boys sounds like.
And here’s how super smooth some of the Timeless series nylon-string guitars sounds.
Are Ovation Guitars Good?
Whether something is good or not in the world of guitars usually comes down to personal preferences.
After all, there are plenty of brands today that offer various stuff.
However, it’s pretty hard for me to find anything that would put Ovation guitars into the “bad” category.
Ovation make some of the best acoustic guitars on today’s market.
They’re so good that they compete with high-end guitars made in the US.
The only thing, however, is that they’re somewhat specific.
You can’t say that they’re bad, but some just may not prefer their tone.
Ovation guitars, in my opinion, are the best choice for lead players who need to cut through the mix.
Sure, using their preamps and pickups is much simpler.
But Ovation guitars can sound great with proper mic’ing as well.
If you ask me, you’ll get the best results by using a mix and mixing it with the piezo sound.
But one thing remains: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Ovation’s design conceived in the 1960s is still what makes these guitars great.
If you ask me, you can’t go wrong with Ovation guitars, no matter the genre.
Their onboard preamps are more than just “good” and you’ll be able to get the tone you need.
Mic’ing it up, you’ll be able to get even better results.
The biggest thing about Ovation guitars, in my opinion, is how good they feel.
They’re super comfy and light and they’re so easy to play.
As I said, you can’t ever go wrong with them.
Anything from their cheapest models, like the Applause series, up to the US-made Adamas line, it’s all more than worth it.
So yes, Ovation guitars are good.
And if you’re thinking about whether to get one or not, I’d say try one out.
At the end of the day, what matters is if YOU like its sound and feel.
Ovation Guitars: Conclusion
I hope this article has helped you think through Ovation guitars and whether this brand is for you!
And if you want to read more about guitar brands on this blog, then check out:
Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!