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Thread: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

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    Default Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Still trying to fined a good used Breedlove or other solid mandolin and I recalled Ovation made some. I found one at Reverb and listened to a few videos. It's currently at $700.

    What the general consensus on these?

    I own a few Ovation guitars so I don't have an issue with the brand or shape. I do still want to have a good sounded instrument for most likely non bluegrass stuff. While I suspect all the music would come to a halt in a bluegrass jam if I pulled one of these out of the case, are they credible instruments in the rest of the mandolin community.

    I guess I shouldn't car, as long as I like the way it sounds to my ears. It's nice to hear other people's views. anyway.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    I have been a big fan of Ovation mandolins made in the USA since I played my first one about 15 years ago. I like the way they sound, especially when plugged in, they are great at staying in tune, and are very playable instruments in my opinion. You are correct that they don’t have a lot of love in the bluegrass community, but they should work well with many other types of music. I think that $700 is a good price for a USA made one in good playable condition. I paid more than that for two of the three that I own.Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3
    🎶 Play Pretty 🎶 Greg Connor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    I still have my Ovation guitar that I bought new 50 years ago. I’ve never played an Ovation Mandolin but I own 2 Breedloves (made in USA). For the money, I’m tickled with the Breedloves.

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    A late friend used one at a Scandinavian jam from time to time. He really enjoyed it. It wasn't overly loud, but I could hear it. He said it was also quite good plugged in.

    Only had one Ovation guitar and that was a used model that had been destroyed by airline gorillas and rebuilt with an x-braced top. Good sounding but never got along with the neck shape. Hopefully it's still being played.
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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    What the general consensus on these?
    Most reports suggest that they electrify extremely well for stage purposes but perhaps donít have the most traditional acoustic tone, appearance, or construction. For me, it would function as a specialized tool for a defined application rather than an all-in-one general purpose multitasker.
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    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Never tried an Ovation mando. The only problem I have with Ovations guitars is that the curved, slippery back makes the bottom sort of slide forward when I play it standing up. It almost looks like I'm playing a dobro.

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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Caveat is that Iíve only played a couple through the years, but, if youíre looking for good acoustic tone, theyíre not the way to go. If youíre playing in a band with electric guitars, drums, keys, horns, etc, then theyíre probably your best bet (barring solid body instruments or maybe Godin A8?) for getting LOUD without feedback. I used to own an Applause guitar that sounded great plugged in but wasnít going to impress anyone unplugged. Of course, amplification is pretty much what theyíre built for, so thereís thatÖ

    Have you tried putting a want add in the classifieds for a Breedlove? It may get seen by more members there. I tend to just look at ďHappening NowĒ unless I get invested in a thread, so once itís off that list itís gone to meÖ

    The price for the Ovation isnít bad if you choose to go that route. They used to be cheaper until they stopped making them, of course, but 700 isnít bad in the current market.

    Good luck!

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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Are the necks a standard shape? I have one of their classical guitars I bought in the seventies and it's neck shape was a revelation for playing jazz on a classic for someone used to a stratocaster.

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Breedlove in the classifieds....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/178329#178329

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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Charley,

    That's one I have been in conversations with for about a week. There is a new listing in the classifieds I just sent a reply to as well.

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    The new listing looks like a good deal, good luck!
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Another consideration re: Ovations is their non-traditional construction. Unlike most other mandolins, they have a fixed bridge glued to the top, and use ball-end rather than loop-end strings -- so you can't just buy a set of mandolin strings for an Ovation.

    Consensus seems to be similar to the one for Ovation acoustic guitars: great as an amplified instrument, high volume with limited feedback. Not so good as a straight acoustic instrument -- non-traditional sound, modest volume. Also, you're right to talk about the "Ovation"-labeled guitars made in America; several Cafe posts have expressed dissatisfaction with their Applause line of less expensive imports.
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    I wouldn't recommend an Ovation Applause to anyone unless they just needed a low cost , plugin , guitar. Celebrity models are better, but still one of their economy line. I've heard some good sounding ones, but there are enough older used, unappreciated, USA models out there at a good price , it would be hard not to go for those instead.

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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Itís been long enough since Iíve played one to comment much on their necks, but I donít recall them being uncomfortable. The Applause guitar I had (as a cheap plug n play guitar) had a really narrow nut width, but I donít recall the mandolins being too weird. Also, I havenít played one made since they opened back up, just older models. Agree with finding a US made instrument if you go that route.

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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Back in Ye Olde Days, when Ovation mandolins first hit the market, I had to check one out, fascinated as I am with exploring the possibilities of rock mandolin. My impression is that it sounded like @$$ acoustically, but plugged in, it was all there. I was surprised, in fact. I admit to not having played one since, preferring to electrify acoustic mandolins instead. That is, installing piezo pickups on the old Gibsons I like, so they sound good plugged in or not. Unless Ovation has made improvements on the way their mandolins sound unplugged, I don't think they're going to cut it at acoustic jams. But it might be just the thing for gigs. Which would mean having two mandolins for two purposes. Which is all right, unless that means crossing some sort of threshold of MAS and the next thing you know you're accumulating more and more mandolins. Not that there's anything wrong with it ...
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Guess you bought the Breedlove, right? So further Ovation consideration is, well, moot...
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  19. #17

    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Yep.

    Still, I don't know if the Breedlove has a pickup....

    My wife thinks of a Hooters song when she thinks mandolin. So, a rock mandolin would be good for that application.

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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Yeah, that's where Ovation instruments really shine -- plugged in. I remember back in the 1960's-'70's when so many "acoustic" instrument players were getting Ovations, because they could be played at high volume without feedback, through an amp or a PA system.

    I always thought that one reason for that was that their tops were thicker and more heavily braced -- making them perhaps less acoustically responsive, but more feedback-proof. My old instrument-dealer boss Eldon Stutzman had two guitar bodies that had been sawed in half longitudinally, a Martin D-18 and an Ovation, and was fond of comparing the level of work-person-ship between the two -- not, obviously, to the Ovation's advantage.

    The other advantage of plugged-in Ovations, of course, is that they were designed to be "acoustic/electric," with a very good piezo pickup (I believe an active one at the time, with an onboard battery, but I may be wrong about that). I can remember Roy Clark being all over his Ovation on the TV, Glen Campbell too. Definitely claimed a niche in the expanding acoustic/electric market. Interesting that their big competitor turned out to be Takamine, which also had an excellent factory-installed pickup, but sounded better acoustically as well.
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Ovation pickups have always been active. 9 volt batteries in the mix somewhere. The old ones, and mandolins have them in hard to get spots. The newer guitars have them in a quick release spot next to the controls. The deal with their pickup design is that they were expected to be plugged into the stage gear of the time, like a big Marshall. Those amps had high impedance inputs. No real "quack" in that case, but it did still have an electric tone. I think an Ovation into a buffered input really helps. The down side to many people's view on Ovations is about all they have heard or have gotten to play are the shallow stage only instruments what will of course sound pretty poor acoustically.

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    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Here's my experience with my Connecticut-made Ovation MM-68. These are my opinions and yours' might differ. there is no harm in that. Like most of you, I have a number of different mandolins to choose from. They give me options for different situations. I play in a gigging duo and in a mandolin orchestra. I play a wide range of genres but not bluegrass. The Ovation is just the instrument for some of these situations.

    First, it is not a bluegrass instrument. For most genres, however, it is a good instrument. Plugged in, its on-board preamp works great, allows fine adjustment and really, for me, is just the thing I need. It can sound truly great with the right amp and speakers and will hold its own with the plugged-in guitars.

    Acoustically, unlike some respondents, I do not find it to be too quiet. I have played it out both acoustically and plugged-in. It has a solid voice that projects nicely, not like an arch-top f-hole instrument, but not weak, either. Id say it's voice is more pure (fewer overtones) than some, but again, that is my opinion. In that way, I find it to be between my traditional flat-tops and my carved arch-tops. It fills a nice tonal niche.

    I do find that the top, around the fixed bridge on these, tends to ripple a little (develop 'waves'). I have seen it on a number of these but it never seems to progress beyond that. I often take this instrument places like outdoor gigs on a dock over water, with lots of wind, where I would not risk my finer instruments. It is as stable as could be. The neck has never needed any adjustment of any sort. The radius in just right and the profile is, to my hands, perfect. This has one of the easiest actions of any instrument I have had, and I have had some nice ones (not top-shelf, but upper middle shelf).

    There is a player in the mandolin orchestra in which I play who has a US made Ovation as his primary instrument. I can hear him in the mix of instruments and he sounds great. In fact, I have played this instrument in that setting, as well.

    Bottom line, for the money, in my opinion, these are a really good choice. I find mine fun and easy to play, rock solid in holding its tuning, good acoustically and great plugged in. I think there are a lot of players who would get a lot of use out of these if they had one. YMMV
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    .. a yea, but .. you can add balls to loop end strings ; glue the ball in the loop until up to tension and the loop closes around it better ..
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    .. a yea, but .. you can add balls to loop end strings ; glue the ball in the loop until up to tension and the loop closes around it better ..
    I've seen D'Addario ball end mandolin strings.

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    Barn Cat Mandolins Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    I've seen D'Addario ball end mandolin strings.
    Yup, they are D'Addario EJ 70 and they are $7.40 from Just Strings. Here's the link https://www.juststrings.com/dad-ej70...ia&kw=dad-ej70

    I haven't understood the angst over ball end strings. These are readily available, inexpensive and work just fine on my Ovation.
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  28. #24

    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Thomastik-Infeld medium mandolin strings are also available with ball ends.

  29. #25

    Default Re: Expanding my searches. Thoughts on USA Ovation mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bradford View Post
    Thomastik-Infeld medium mandolin strings are also available with ball ends.
    Cha-ching!

    I have a set of TI strings for one of my guitars. I haven't decided which one, just yet. Never tried them before. I better like them.

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