Ovation reference: dates serials models colors

Ovation Mosup team

A series of tables and lists that summarise serial numbers, model codes and colors of the Ovation guitars from the beginning to the end of the 20th Century.

Years and models

Original series from 1966

Range Date Comment
006-319 1966 three digits in red ink
320-999 1967 (Feb.-Nov.) New Hartford; three digits in red ink
1000- 1967 (Nov.)-1968 (July) four digits in black ink, no letter prefix
10000- 1970 (Feb.)-1972 (May) five digits, no letter prefix
A + three digits 1968 (July-Nov.)
B + three digits 1968 (Nov.)-1969 (Feb.)
B + five digits 1974-1979 Magnum solidbody basses
C + three digits 1969 (Feb.-Sept.)
D + three digits 1969 (Sept.)-1970 (Feb.)
E + four digits 1973 (Jan.)-1975 (Feb.) solidbodies
E + five digits 1975 (Feb.)-1980 solidbodies
E + six digits 1980 (late)-1981 some UK IIs (does not reflect production)
F, G prefix 1968 (July)-1970 (Feb.)
H, I, J, L prefix 1970-1973 Electric Storm series

Ovation: six digits series from 1971

Range Date Comment
000001-007000 1972 (May-Dec.)
007001-020000 1973
020001-039000 1974
039001-067000 1975
067001-086000 1976
086001-103000 1977 (Jan.-Sept.)
103001-126000 1977 (Sept.)-1978 (Apr.)
126001-157000 1978 (Apr.-Dec.)
157001-203000 1979
211011-214933 1980
214934-263633 1981
263634-291456 1982
291457-302669 1983
302670-303319 1984 Elites only
315001-339187 1984 (May-Dec.) Balladeers only
303320-356000 1985-1986
357000-367999 1987
368000-382106 1988
382107-392900 1989
403760-420400 1990
421000-430680 1990
400001-403676 1991
430681-446000 1991
402700-406000 1992
446001-457810 1992
457811-470769 1993
470770-484400 1994
484401-501470 1995

Adamas: from September 1977

Range Year
0077-0099 1977
0100-0608 1978
0609-1058 1979
1059-1670 1980
1671-2668 1981
2669-3242 1982
3243-3859 1983
3860-4109 1984
4110-4251 1985
4252-4283 1986
4284-4427 1987
4428-4696 1988
4697-4974 1989
4975-5541 1990
5542-6278 1991
6279-7088 1992
7089-8159 1993
8160-9778 1994
9779-11213 1995

Model numbers

The model 4 digit codes for the original models. Everything changed and became sort of messy from the Seventies, so the best way to be shure is using the Ovation Decoder.

  • First digit
    • 1 – most models born before year 2000
    • 2 – contour bowl
    • 4 – Japanese Balladeers
    • 5 – parlours and some Elites
    • 6 -Standard Elites, widenecks, some Adamas
  • Second digit is type of guitar:
    • 1 Acoustic roundbacks (also semi-hollowbody electrics)
    • 2 Solidbody and semi-hollowbody electrics
    • 3 Ultra acoustics
    • 4 Solidbody
    • 5 Acoustic electric cutaway Adamas and II/Elite/Ultra electric
    • 6 Acoustic electric roundbacks
    • 7 Deep
    • 8 Shallow
  • Third digit denotes bowl depth on acoustic and acoustic electrics:
    • 1 Standard bowl 5 13/16″ deep
    • 2 Artist bowl 5 1/8″ deep
    • 3 Elite/Matrix electric deep bowl
    • 4 Matrix shallow bowl
    • 5 Custom Balladeer Legend Legend 12 Custom Legend 12 Anniversary
    • 6 Cutaway electric deep bowl
    • 7 Cutaway electric shallow bowl
    • 8 Adamas 6 1/16″ deep
  • Fourth digit denotes model
    • 1 Balladeer
    • 2 Deluxe Balladeer
    • 3 Classic
    • 4 Josh White
    • 5 12-String
    • 6 Contemporary Folk Classic
    • 7 Glen Campbell Artist Balladeer
    • 8 Glen Campbell 12-String
    • 9 Custom Legend (from 1974)
  • Color code follows hyphen after model number (but I am not quite sure for all of them):
    • 1 Sunburst
    • 2 Red
    • 4 Natural
    • 5 Black H Honeyburst
    • 6 White
    • 7 LTD Nutmeg/Anniversary Brown/Beige/Tan
    • 8 Blue
    • 9 Brown
    • B Barnwood (gray-to-black sunburst)
    • H Honey sungurst

Model Chronology

The dates in this chronology reflect actual appearances of models, determined from price lists and the recollections of sales representatives and dealers. They may differ slightly from the first production or official introduction dates in the text.

Acoustic and Acoustic Electric

1964 Charles Kaman chose a small team of aerospace engineers and technicians, several of whom were woodworking hobbyists as well, to work to invent a new guitar. One of these was Charles McDonough, who later created the Ovation Adamas model. Kaman founded Ovation Instruments.
1965 Engineers and luthiers work to improve acoustic guitars by changing their conventional materials. The R&D team builds and tests prototype instruments. Their first prototype has a conventional dreadnought body, with parallel front and back perpendicular to the sides. The innovation is the use of a thinner, synthetic back, because of its foreseen acoustic properties. The company is moved from the aerospace facilities of Bloomfield to a new location in New Hartford.
1966 Balladeer introduced. Has a natural top, Grover Rotomatic tuners, dot fret markers, white-black-white binding, small or thin rosette with figure-8 chain link motif and grape bunch at 4 o’clock position. Less than 100 made before February 1967 move to New Hartford factory. The very early have no rosette, some have extra diamond fret markers at twelfth fret.
1967 (Feb.) Deluxe Balladeer introduced. Essentially a Balladeer with diamonds at twelfth fret, Grover Rotomatics (Balladeer now has Kluson tuners), five-ply top binding.
1967 (Sept.) Classic introduced. No fret markers, twelve frets clear of body, flat fingerboard. Josh White model introduced. Twelve frets clear of body, wider neck, steel strings, dot markers with diamonds at twelfth fret. Shaded brown sunburst top introduced.

Larger floral leaf rosette appears. Model numbers introduced:

  • Model #1 Balladeer
  • Model #2 Deluxe Balladeer
  • Model #3 Classic
  • Model #4 Josh White.
1968 (Jan.) Model #5 12-String introduced
1968 (July) Semi-hollowbody Electric Storm series introduced
Model #6 Contemporary Folk Classic appears in the catalog, but is only produced as a prototype (probably during development of Glen Campbell model), with red, green or blue bowl color option
1968 (Nov.) Glen Campbell models and shallow “Artist” bowl introduced.
Four-digit model numbers with K prefix introduced:

  • K-1111 Balladeer
  • K-1112 Custom Balladeer
  • K-1113 Classic
  • K-1114 Josh White
  • K-1115 12-String
  • K-1116 Contemporary Folk Classic (prototypes only)
  • K-1117 Deluxe Balladeer
  • K-1118 Glen Campbell 12-String
  • K-1121 Artist Balladeer
  • K-1123 Artist Classic
  • K-1127 Glen Campbell Artist Balladeer
1970 Josh White model deleted after his death
1971 (May) K-1124 Country Artist introduced. Similar to the Josh White but with shallow bowl, fourteen-fret neck, flat fingerboard, and nylon strings, replaces Josh White as the #4 model.
Acoustic electric models introduced:

  • K-1621 Electric Artist Balladeer
  • K-1624 Electric Country Artist
1972 (June) Solidbody electrics introduced. K prefix deleted from model names

  • 1114 Folklore introduced (reintroduction of Josh White model)
  • 1115 12-String renamed Pacemaker
  • 1117 Deluxe Balladeer renamed Legend
  • 1122 Classic Balladeer introduced
  • 1614 Electric Folklore introduced
  • 1615 Electric Pacemaker introduced
  • 1617 Electric Legend introduced
  • 1116 Concert Classic introduced
  • 1616 Electric Concert Classic introduced
  • 1119 Custom Legend introduced
  • 1619 Electric Custom Legend introduced
1976 New top finishes introduced: Red, White, or Blue Patriot Bicentennial introduced. Limited run of 1776 guitars, fancy version of Custom Legend with drum-and-flag decal and “1776*1976” on lower treble bout.
1976 (Sept.) Adamas introduced in prototype form for artists and select dealers. The first 26 are prototypes; #27-#61 are a non-tooling production run; #62-#76 have a new headstock design and the Kaman bar neck reinforcement. Wooden epaulettes around soundholes change to a photographic Mylar material. Extensive tooling begins Sept. 1977. Dealers receive first production models in Dec. 1977. First production Adamas sold is a Model 1687, #0077-95. Suffix is guitar’s natural frequency resonance. The first Adamas 12-String is #213. Charles H. Kaman signs the labels up to #600. At #600 C.W. (Bill) Kaman II begins signing labels.

  • 1187 Acoustic Adamas
  • 1188 Acoustic Adamas 12-String
  • 1687 Adamas (acoustic electric)
  • 1688 Adamas 12-String (acoustic electric)
1978 1157 Anniversary and 1657 Electric Anniversary introduced
1979 1587 Adamas cutaway and
1651 Legend Limited (electric only) introduced
1981 Adamas II models introduced. Standard Ovation neck and bridge, available as acoustic electric only.

  • 1681 Adamas II
  • 1685 Adamas II 12-String
  • 1581 Adamas II cutaway
1982 Collectors’ Series inaugurated (see separate listing) and several new models, including cutaway models:

  • 1155 Custom Balladeer 12 introduced
  • 1655 Electric Custom Balladeer 12 introduced
  • 1156 Legend 12 introduced
  • 1656 Electric Legend 12 introduced
  • 1159 Custom Legend 12 introduced
  • 1659 Electric Custom Legend 12 introduced
  • 1661 Balladeer Cutaway
  • 1667 Legend Cutaway
  • 1677 Legend Shallow Cutaway
  • 1669 Custom Legend Cutaway
  • 1674 Country Artist cutaway
  • 1663 Classic Cutaway
  • Adamas cutaways.
  • Wood-top Adamas prototype produced. Number on label is N-19-82WTSL (WTSL for Wood Top Super Legend). Production model will be named Elite.
1982 (Oct.) Elite appears on price list; production begins shortly thereafter. First catalog appearance is late 1983.
1983 Super-shallowbodies introduced
1988 Abalone trim added to Custom Legend and Electric Custom Legend
1989 Introduced Optima-3 preamp
1998 Introduced the Custom Legend Al Di meola.
2004 Introduced the LX series (for Light and X-Bracing)


1 Sunburst
1Y Sunburst Flame
2 Red
2WFB Red Waterfall Bubinga
3 Green
4 Natural
4B Natural Bird Eyes
4C Natural Cedar
4G Natural Graphite
4GB Natural Graphite Burst
4HF xNatural w/HEXFX Electronics
4RM Recording Model that features Optimax
5 Black
5BQ Black Blue (Quilted)
5E Ebony Stain
5EY Ebony Transparent Flame
5F Black Flake
5HG Black High Gloss
5M Birdseye
5P Black Pearl
6 White – Cream White
6P White Pearlescent
7 LTD Nutmeg, Anniversary Brown, Tan and Beige, Deep Red
7QM Nutmeg
8 Blue
😯 Opaque Blue
8T Blue Transparent
8TY Blue Transparent Flame
9 Brown Sunburst
9FM Brown Burst Flamed maple
9B Brown Burst Bird Eyes
9Y Brown Burst Cycamore
30CM 30th Anniversary Natural
AB Autumn Burst
AM Amber
ANB Antique Brown Burst
ANR Antique Red
AS Antique Sunburst Bird Eyes
ASB Aspen Blue
ASW Angel Step Walnut
B Barnwood (Gray-to-Black Sunburst)
BCB Black Cherry Burst
BCBQ Black Cherry Burst Quilt
BFT Blue Flame Top
BG Blue Green (Adamas)
BS Blue Sparkle
BSB Blue Surf Burst
BTA Blue Tamo Ash
BZ Bronze
CB Cobalt Blue
CBV Cobalt Blue with VIP Preamp
CCB Cherry Cherry Burst
CCBQ Cherry Cherry Burst Quilt
CG Cadillac Green
CGB Cadillac Green Burst
CRP Crimson Red Pearl
CS Cherry Sunburst
CTBFA Cherry Transparent Burst Figured Ash
DBP Dark Blue Pearl
DPQ Deep Purple Quilt
DSQ Deep Black
DTQ Deep Turquise (Quilted)
FKOA Figured Koa
FR Figured Redwood
G Burgundy Sunburst
GQ Green Quilt
H Honey
HT Honey Sunburst
YB Yellow Burst Flame
YS Yellow Burst
IC Iced Coffee
HB Honeyburst
LFR Legend Figured Redwood
LR Lusty Red
M Mahogany
NB2 No-Burst Red
NB5 No-Burst Black
NB8 No-Burst Blue
NEB New England Burst
NMQ Nutmeg Maple Quilt
NWT Natural Woven Top
OB Opaque Burgundy
OFT Orange Flame Top
P Pewter
PB Plum Burst
PTF Purple Tribal Flame
PY Plumburst on Sycamore
RB Rootbeer
RF Red Flame
RG Ruby Graphite
RR Ruby Red
RRB Ruby Redburst
RRBY Ruby Redburts Flame
RTD Red Tear Drop
RTDB Red Tear Drop Burst
RW Rose White
RWB Red Wineburst
RBBW Ruby Burst Burled Walnut
SS Silver Sparkle
SSP Silver Satin Pearl
T Turquise
T5 Textured Black
TB Tobacco Burst
TG Teal Graphite
TDB Teardrop Burst
TH Transparent Honey
TN Tangerine
TPB Transparent Burgundy
TQ Turquoise Quilted
VOQ Vintage Orange (Quilted)
VY Vintage Flamed Sycamore
VT Vintage
WB Wine Burst Flame
WP White Pearl
WS Walnut stain
Z All Black guitar