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Thread: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

  1. #1
    Slowly Getting Better Uncle Bob's Avatar
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    Default Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Hi all -

    Looking for alittle input from the mando brotherhood. I was eyeing around eBay and saw a couple of Ovation MCS148 mandolins for sale. Now I'm super happy with my current Eastman 615 and someday would love to add a Weber to my collection, but there is something about these Ovations (I guess the look of them) thats gotten into my old head. I'm thinking that for maybe under $400 I could have an OK utility/beater mandolin that's a bit different from a standard "F" or "A".

    So, my questions are:
    1) Does anybody have any experience or own one with these Ovation roundback mandolins?
    2) If so, what are your likes and dislikes about this instrument?

    Thanks a bunch for any and all opinions!
    Bob

    Young & Thin maybe in but Old & Fat is where it's at!

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Yo, Tim, you out there? Also, this recent thread.
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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    They're great for beater instruments, especially when plugged in as they're very resistant to feedback. Pure acoustics? You'll probably like your Eastman more, but they are tough. Many touring musicians use them because of the aforementioned feedback issues, plus when touring, they do take that beating and are very reliable in terms of sound quality, not fussy at all. Good festival mandolin, that sort of stuff.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Hi Bob,

    As you may know, the MCS148 is the 'Celebrity' version of Ovation's MM-68. It's made overseas to the same fundamental specs as the more costly US made model, although slightly dressed-down. Not as much gold and all.

    They make excellent beater instruments owing to their nearly (!) indestructible design, but they are full-fledged performance instruments in their own right. I own two MM-68 models and they have been my primary stage instruments for the past 15 years of full-time professional play.

    Once set up properly (as any mandolin must be), there is nothing to fool with. The bridge cannot move out of place, and the neck is entirely immobile, never needing adjustment. My first instrument went 10 years (before meeting an untimely end in an accident) under hard road use and never needed any sort of adjustment beyond the first set up. Remarkable for any musical instrument.

    Their mandolin, as with almost all Ovation instruments, has a tuning stability that's legendary. It's not at all uncommon for me to play three or four shows without a major retuning. Maybe one string will need a tiny touch up. Unless I break a string, I can play a four hour show without touching the tuners. Very handy.

    They have a tone that's a bit different from other styles of mandolin. For my needs (Irish folk music) I find the tone ideal. It's something of a cross between a bowl-back mandolin and the flat-top instruments popular in Celtic music. The instrument itself is a type of guitar/mandolin hybrid, so that's not too surprising. Their tone is often criticized by Bluegrass traditionalists, and there's no getting around it: There is no high lonesome quality to the Ovation. The avid Bluegrass player would not look to the Ovation any sooner than he might go for a classical bowlback. It's not a bad voice, just a different one. I always recommend listening to as many recordings as you can find if you can't try before you buy.

    Acoustically the instrument is pretty loud, but it is really intended to be plugged in. That's what it was designed for and that's where it shines. It is, for all intents and purposes, feedback proof under even the most extreme conditions. Its electronics provide a surprisingly broad tonal pallet (for a mandolin), and its amplified tone is one of the more pleasing mandolin voices.

    For use as a beater, it's hard to beat. It's simply so rugged that you can take it anywhere. I ruined one, but it was an extraordinary circumstance. If you like the look, then go for it. If you're after a Bluegrass cannon, look elsewhere.
    Last edited by Tim2723; Feb-04-2011 at 10:40pm.
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    Exclamation Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim2723 View Post
    Hi Bob,

    As you may know, the MCS148 is the 'Celebrity' version of Ovation's MM-68. It's made overseas to the same fundamental specs as the more costly US made model, although slightly dressed-down. Not as much gold and all.
    Don't listen! He's trying to lure you to the dark side.

    Seriously, he's got me jonesing for one already.

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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Micheal and I were discussing the Ovations in this thread, about two pages in:

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...ic-Irish-music

    One sort of downside to consider is that they use ball end strings. Ovation has three sets available, and at least one other maker provides them, but the string choices are kind of limited unless you make ball end strings out of your favorite loop ends. Not a big deal, and I've never needed anything but the Ovation medium set, but I thought you should know. The ball end strings make for very fast, easy string changes, and that's a plus.
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    Celtic Bard michaelpthompson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    I haven't faced that yet, but I've seen a thread where the idea was given that you could just take the ball ends off an old set, slip them down the strings to the loop, then put the end of the string through the loop and pull it tight. Takes a bit longer, but then you could use other strings if you wanted to.

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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Yeah, it's not a big deal. Guys have been turning loop ends into ball ends for a long time. Just an extra step. I don't think you need to bother though. The Ovation ball end sets are very well balanced for the instrument. They were designed to go together.
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    BTW, I just spotted a used MM68 on Amazon for $900. It's that damn cherry red again though.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    One sort of downside to consider is that they use ball end strings.
    vista for strings widens if you just save the balls from the 1st set, you can just put the ball in a loop end string

    maybe a dab of glue or cello tape.

    Once its up to tension the ball will hold the loop, keeping it from pulling thru the hole in the bridge.
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Yup, and it's only sort of a downside. The ball end strings, whether purchased or modified, make for very easy, fast string changes. I can change my Ovation in less than half the time it takes for any of my other instruments with conventional loop-end tailpieces with none of that slip-off-the-tab aggravation. And since the bridge doesn't move you can easily take off all the strings at once and give everything a good cleaning every time you change stings. In the long run the upsides outweigh the downsides for me.

    As long as the unique voice of the Ovation suits your music and the unconventional shape suits your eye, I can think of no reason to dislike it. For me its been the ideal instrument for 15 years. After my first one was destroyed I played a pair of acoustic-electric F-5s. Each in turn was destroyed in short order. That reminded me of the fragility of traditional constructions in the pub atmosphere and I bought my second Ovation. My bandmate was always polite and never complained about the F-5s, but he never really liked the sound for our music. The day I walked in with the replacement Ovation was one of the few times I think I've really made him happy.
    Last edited by Tim2723; Feb-06-2011 at 6:57am.
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    Slowly Getting Better Uncle Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Thank you for all the replies and the information - it was a big help to me. A special thanks to Tim2723 for your insight.

    Well, I went for it this weekend and got a winning bid on a used MCS148 off of eBay. Should have it by the end of the week.

    Will probably get busted by the Bluegrass Police if I take it to a festival parking lot, so maybe I'll save those outings for my Eastman. Really just wanted sometime different as I slowly start to build a personal collection of mandolins (maybe next a nice used Gibson "A").

    Anyway, thanks again to all!
    Bob

    Young & Thin maybe in but Old & Fat is where it's at!

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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Bob you did right! I own a MM-68, for around 7 years, and before that an MCS148. I take mine everywhere and I have to travel a lot, I play it on stage and for practise, it is my worker. It never needed anything exept new strings. They have special sound and some players do not like the sound, I hope you will.
    Bernd

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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    I put a small brass bar on the bottom of mine so it will accommodate loop end strings. Works great and the strings settle in pretty easily.
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    Marbhna Luimni Eddie Sheehy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Run away from the MCS148. MM68's used to run about $500-$600 used and the difference between them is night and day - I've owned both (actually several MM68's and one MCS148 - one was enough).

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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    I think part of the problem with the Celebrity is that it doesn't get the same level of quality control as the MM-68. I've heard of clinkers slipping through. It is, after all, the low-cost copy.
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    So Bob, did you get it yet?
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    Slowly Getting Better Uncle Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Hey Tim

    It arrived a couple days ago. In excellent condition - for a two year old mandolin, it looks brand new!

    I've been playing it the past several days and I really like it alot. It's different from my Eastman but that's what I was hoping for. It just a cool, fun instrument to play; great action and a nice sound. I haven't had the chance to try it out through an amp yet. It could use a new set of strings and I've got a couple of sets of ball-end DAddario's on order from Musician's Friend (free shipping).

    I think this was a nice addition to my small but hopefully growing collection.
    Bob

    Young & Thin maybe in but Old & Fat is where it's at!

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Congrats Bob! Wait 'til you hear it through an amp, you'll be impressed! It's not surprising that it looks new; You can't kill them except for a disaster. Did you get the red sunburst or some other color? Are the epaulets raised or flush with the soundboard? The new MM-68s have inlaid epaulets, but I don't know about the Celebrity. How does the case look?

    Get some fresh strings on it and don't be afraid to oil the fretboard with a small drop of lemon oil. Run a pencil through the nut slots. It helps a lot. Clean the body with a damp rag. Just stay away from polishes that have silicone and have a real blast!! If you're not planning to play amplified for a while take the battery out. Corrosion really sucks and it's a hassle to get a new battery compartment. The battery is the number one problem.

    Congrats again and stay in touch about it.

    P.S. Never put anything in it but a Duracell 9v. Trust me. Don't ask, just trust me. I don't know why it works that way. Maybe one of our super-tech gurus like Mandroid or Foldedpath can explain it. Find Tim Bowen on the site and ask him. But use only Duracell 9 volt batteries.

    P.P.S. Have I made it clear that it's REALLY important to use the right battery?
    Last edited by Tim2723; Feb-12-2011 at 1:35pm.
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  20. #20
    Slowly Getting Better Uncle Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ovation MCS148 Mandolins

    Hi Tim

    So what is it you're trying to say about Duracell 9V batteries?

    I don't plan on using an amp anytime soon so I pulled the old 9V out (not the easiest thing in the world to get to either). Thanks for the info about Duracells - if I ever go the plugged route, I'll be sure to use only Duracells.

    Got the red sunburst finish and I really like it a lot - has a nice depth of color to it. The epaulets are raised, not inlayed. It didn't come with the standard Ovation case but rather a TKL F-style hard shell case, which arrived in the same like brand new condition as the mandolin did. The Celebrity fits pretty well into this case (so does my Eastman too) and I think it should provide some good basic protection.

    Thanks again for all your help and great infomation about the Ovation mandolins!
    Bob

    Young & Thin maybe in but Old & Fat is where it's at!

    Collings MT2 Mandolin
    Weber F-Style Yellowstone Deluxe Mandolin
    Eastman MD615 Mandolin
    Sturgill A-Style Mandolin
    Ovation MCS148 Mandolin
    Big Muddy M-11M Mandola

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