Gone but not forgotten: sold Ovation guitars

These are the Ovation guitars that I had have sold. Only one is really missed, the Anniversary 1657-8. The rest went (always for a budget price) because had an issue or during a periodic reorganisation on my collection or just because I did not feel it as comfortable as I want. The list is in order of sale date.

1979 Ovation Matrix 1132-1
My very first Ovation, bought in 1978 at Tom Lee Piano in Hong Kong and sold two years later. No big deal of a guitar, but I paid it less than $ 100 including a beautiful brown hard case. I sold it to buy a wood neck Ovation, the alluminum neck felt weird.

1979 Ovation Artist 1621-4
My first real Ovation guitar. It was a factory demo that I bough it from “Prina” store in Milano after selling the Matrix. This guitar had a nice mid depht bowl, a pleasant V neck and a nice, warm, real wood fingerboard (after the phenolic Matrix it felt so god!). The sound was very good both acoustically and plugged in. I kept it for a few years and played quite a lot, then I traded it in the same store (I think it was the early Eighties) to buy the incredibly beautiful Anniversary 1657-8  mentioned below, sold in a moment of blindness and today still highly missed.

1980 Ovation The Anniversary 1657-8
Alberto Biraghi in the 70s with his Ovation AnniversaryMy third Ovation, bought in the now deceased famous Milanese guitar store Prina trading in the above Artist and adding extra money. It had a gorgeous transparent orange spruce top with a very tight and elegant vein. The neck was awesome, with the ebony board with snowflakes. It was light, beautiful, resonant, perfectly amplified. I sold in the mid Eighties, i a period of electric madness, when I was too young and stupid to understand how special that guitar was. Big mistake. I am in touch with the guy I sold it to, bu he does not want to give it back even in trade for a more expensive guitar, such as a Custom Legend.

Late 80s Ovation Elite 1718-4
My first wood top Adamas-style Ovation, sold in the early 2K. It was a very nice guitar.

2005 Ovation Elite 1778T-OFT
Lots of fun to look at, but with a significant neck problem and sounding as a cartoon box, so I sold it

1988 Ovation Collectors 1988-P
I bought this guitar on eBay in early 2019. Described as “mint”, in fact had a finish crack on rear of the neck. There were also three superficial finish scratches on the back, near the neck to body joint, that the previous owner had touched up with a marker. It also came with a full depth Ovation case, in spite of being a super shallow guitar. The electronics worked, but the control plate screws were rusted. The paperworks were missing. For these reasons I asked a partial reimburse and sold it for the amount I actually paid in November 2018. I must say that after seeing it I decided that I do not like this model, so I will not search a cleaner one.

1979 Ovation The Anniversary 1157-7 #159848
1979 Ovation 1657 The AnniversaryCelebrating the first ten years of guitar building (1966-1976), The Anniversary is in my opinion one of Ovation’s best projects ever. A discrete yet elegant, nice looking, playing and sounding guitar, offered from 1978 to 1982 in this “antique brown” (actually a reddish aged transparent stain) and in “natural”, both in acoustic (1157) and electric (1657) versions. The Anniversary has exclusive snowflake inlays on the ebony fingerboard, multi layered headstock overlay (as on the Adamas 2), exclusive herringbone binding and rosette inlay (later used on the 1991 Collectors), carved bridge and trussrod cover (as on the Custom Legend). I found this early (still with a silkscreened logo) pure acoustic Anniversary in late 2013 on the OFC forum (thank you Jim). It produces a huge sound, with powerful basses, solid mediums and clear highs. It has a thin finish, non structural crack in the middle of the top so I put it for sale at a very reasonable price and sold it in 12 hours, December 2018.

1986 Ovation Custom Legend 1869-4 #352412
1869 Custom LegendThe Custom Legend 1869 was born as a shallow bowl, cutaway version of the reverend Custom Legend. It has all the gorgeous fancy appointing of the full bowl version, an awesome AAA Sitka spruce top and a super comfortable neck. A perfect onstage guitar that maintains  a more than decent acoustic voice. I bought this beautiful 1869 in May 2014, as a first reaction to the closure of the historical plants of New Hartford, CT by Fender Musical Instruments. Seen on Craigslist, it was so clean and the price so reasonable that I decided to bring it home, although at the time I was still looking for the best 1619.According to the dating page of the Ovation Tribute website it has been made in 1986. Not a scratch, not a sign of wear, in spite of almost 30 years of life. And what’s best, despite the shallow bowl, this guitar produces a well balanced and quite powerful acoustic voice. Plugged in it takes advantage of the OP-24 preamp, considered by many the best acoustic guitar amplification system.The soundboard is beautiful, in spite of some waving and a minor hairline finish crack, an Ovation trademarks that I keep under control with a constant attention to the correct humidity in the case.The inlays are stunning as on every CL. An instrument easy to carry around and very pleasant to play. Sold to Adam in March 2019 through the Ovation Guitar Player Community page on Facebook after deciding to focus my collection to limited and rare models.

1994 Ovation Viper EA68-5 #478762
Ovation EA68 ViperIn spite of being a non strictly roundback all-wood guitar, this EA68 Viper is 100% an Ovation so I decided to get in touch with the guy who was putting it for sale, in spite of not playing live or recording anymore. I wanted one because Glen Campbell was playing it and because I still miss my Gibson Chet Atkins SST.
The Ovation Viper is a small and good looking guitar, so silent when not unplugged that I can strum it late at night. I bought it in August 2018 at a very reasonable price. Near mint, it is one of the first EA68 built and came with a set of Grover Imperial-style Schaller tuners instead of the standard Ovation-Schallers. According to the seller they have always been there, but I replaced them with a gorgeous set of Schaller pearloid buttons bought from StewMac and I also have a set of original gold buttons from my Ovation buddy Paul Templeman.
The neck is awesome, with a low action and a lot of frets out of the body (which I will not use, because I tend to play in the cowboy positions) and the amplification system is essential but efficient, so I can get a credible acoustic sound when plugged in my small Yamaha THR-10 home amp.
Playing it is a lot of fun. And it’s made in New Hartford, CT, in the Kaman era, as any Ovation should.
But… I seldom play plugged in and when I do I prefer a mid-bowl guitar with an OP-24, so in April 2019 I swapped it for a 1995 Collectors with an Ovation friend who lives in texas.

2009 Ovation 2009-FKOA Collectors #148
Ovation 2009-fkoaI’ve been loving the 2009 Collectors since the day when my editorial staff tested it for our music magazine Accordo. The awesome wood and decoration put this limited edition guitar (150 pieces worldwide) among the best Ovation Collectors. The 2009-FKOA has a lightweight deep contour cutaway body, a hand selected figured koa top, specially designed abalone Celtic knot round soundhole rosette, tortoise/abalone top binding with over 200 pieces of abalone, ebony fingerboard, OP-Pro Studio preamp, 25.5″ scale length, 1-3/4″ nut width, gold tuners with pearl buttons and a deluxe hardshell case. The 2009-FKOA is not a powerful guitar, but it’s thanks to the koa top has a high edged sound perfect for strumming rhythms.  It’s a wonderful guitar, but I never loved it. It went to an Ovation fan living in Naples in May 2019 during the reorganisation of my collection.

1989 Adamas 1681-8 #4785
I always wanted a blue Adamas, but after the end of the Kaman era their prices became crazy. When this one appeared on the classified website at the end of 2018 I could not resist and got in touch with the seller, in spite of a very high request. To my great amazement, the nickname hid a guy working in the musical instruments field whom I knew very well, so we found an agreement on a more realistic price. This guitar is quite different in playabilty and sound from my 1983 1681-9 (see it here with the story of the model), also because is a wide neck (46mmm versus 42 mm). The sound is awesome unplugged: the well known, unmistakable, rich and full Adamas 2 tone is all there, big and loud. Once plugged in, the OP-24 sound does not need to be described, it’s just it, the best possible amplified acoustic sound. I sold it because I could not get used to its huge neck.

1997 Ovation 5741-9 #527407
Ovation 5741 parlorApparently, the New Hartford people made another parlor guitar with the leftover bodies of the 1997 Collectors (see the next guitar). The Ovation 5741 has a wide neck with a solid headstock (slothead on the 1997 Collectors) and 14 frets clear of the body (12 on the 1997 Collectors), a standard OP-24 preamp instead of the TS (with the battery slot accessible from the side) and is finished in a nice dark sunburst. I saw one of these nice guitars at the 2014 edition of my Music Show Milano. It was very clean, sounded and played fine, the price was OK, but the case was missing, so I let it go. But when I saw a “NOS” 5741 advertised on an Italian musical instruments classifieds website, I could not resist. The guitar was in Sicily and was a leftover from the previous distributor, with its original case and all the case candies, but was offered at a non realistic price. Fortunately after a few emails and telephone calls I convinced the dealer to accept my offer and I got it. After some normal setup (I removed the bridge inserts to lower the action, filed slightly the saddle and the nut, tightened the trussrod) and with a new set of strings (it still had the original 1997 strings!) this small guitar came to a new life. A slim, well sounding and playing, lovely guitar that fits perfectly in the roundback herd. Sold in August 2019 because I decided that I like better the large bodied guitars.

1997 Ovation 1997-4 Collectors #0659
Ovation guitars for salesIn 1997, for the first time after 30 years on the market, Ovation introduced a different body dimension, offering a parlor sized roundback guitar as a limited Collectors series 1997 model. New bowl, new neck available in two widths, and new top design for a guitar that is even smaller than a 000. The top is solid spruce with aged clear finish, bound in maple. The round hole is framed by a rosette made of individual pieces of maple set in ebony and the slothead satin finisched neck attaches to the body at the 12th fret. But that’s not all, because Ovation introduced a completely new electronics system, with a slimline pickup and the TS® preamp  controlled by a touch sensitive slider built in the top waist of the bowl. The output jack is located in the endpin. The Ovation 1997 Collectors is a small and comfortable guitar, with a surprisingly loud acoustic sound considering the size. When I saw this near mint beauty on an Italian musical instruments classifieds website I could not resist. After a pleasant negotiation with the owner we agreed on a reasonable price and now I have an oustanding parlor guitar with my beloved roundback. Sold in August 2019 because I decided that I like better the large bodied guitars.

2011 Ovation 1617 ALE-1 #22
Ovation 1617 ALE-1Always enchanted by the 1617 ALE-1 (ALE = Adirondack Legend), I never found one at a reasonable price (well, after all is a fancy guitar limited to 50 pieces, representing the swansong of the FMI-Ovation, so the owners tend to keep it). In November 2016 I saw one for sale in Rome at a realistic price, made an even lower offer and found an agreement. The ALE has a structure and ornamentation similar to the 2009 FKOA: tortoise binding, scalloped X bracing, the beautiful abalone inlaid rosette with the Celtic infinity pattern, premium grade ebony fretboard with abalone infinity inlays. The selected exquisite adirondack top is finished in a wonderful sunburst while the neck is solid maple with gold Schaller tuners. The new logo enriches the classic design headstock, that looks beautiful thanks to the contrast of the natural maple with the black veneer. The bowl has the original deep profile and is made with the old-style layered Lyracord (no microspheres and no compression here) for that vintage Ovation tone, with lots of ring and clear mids. I sold it in January 2020 after deciding to focus my collection on older and unique guitars.

2007 Ovation 1773-4 Classic LX #611330
Ovation 1773 Classic LXIn the late 2019 thanks to my new interest for developing my fingerstyle I started thinking about nylon. Ovation needless to say, so I was considering the Ovation 1773-4 Classic LX. The only nylon strings guitar I ever had is my Hofner 6 strings lute that I bough as a teenager to mimic my hero Fabrizio De André, but it uses ball ended strings (hard to find).  The occasion to get one came in April 2019, when my Scottish (NB: being Scottish for me this is a plus) Facebook buddy Paul Templeman decided to move from his 1773 to an older 1763, so he sent a very friendly offer to purchase the LX. Having just sold the 2009-FKOA (beautiful guitar, but very similar to the ALE-1 which I like better)  I decided to take advantage of it. The Ovation 1773-4 Classic LX is as beautiful and well done as any early 2K New Hartford made guitar can be: the spruce top has a great vintage tint, the fretboard is flawless, the preamp is the efficient OP-Pro/Studio and the body is the comfortable mid depth bowl.  I cannot say much about the sound quality, because I do not know anything about classic guitars, but this 1773 plays very well and has a powerful voice. Unfortunately, after trying for a few months, I realised I will never be able to get used to the wide-flat classic fingerboard and to the the soft feel of the nylon strings, so I sold it in February 2020.

2005 1651-7 Ovation Legend LTD #597051
Ovation Legend LTDSome history: this 2005 Ovation Legend LTD is a reissue of the original Legend LTD of the late 70’s and was built in December 2005 upon request of Ovation Japan in a limited run of 100 pieces. John Lennon used the LTD extensively in the late 70’s, and this reissue was made to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his death. Basically is a standard Legend, with a beautiful nutmeg finish spruce top, gold Schaller hardware and the stacked knob V/T FET-3 stereo pre-amp. An addicted Custom Legend fan, I never considered to get me a Legend until early 2016, when I bought this beauty from a guy who lived close to my home.  The color is different from the original Ovation Legend LTD stain brown, the reissue is less transparent and somehow reddish, but gorgeous. The neck has an outstanding ebony fretboard and a modern two way truss rod. A low action and a boomy – yet well defined – voice make this 1651-7 Ovation Legend LTD one of the best performing instruments in my collection. Sold to a British musician in March 2020 after deciding to focus my collection on the instruments made in the Bill Kaman era.