Top 6 Best Ovation Guitars in 2020 Complete Review

Looking for a new acoustic-electric guitar for your collection? Ovation’s catalog sports some great acoustic-electric guitars that are innovative, unique and attractive. Check out our guide of the best ovation guitars in 2020.

Ovation & The Roundback Acoustic Guitar:

Ovation is the original acoustic roundback guitar that shot to fame in the late 1960s. The Lyrachord scooped bowl design was created by the engineering division of the Kaman Corporation (and aerospace company) after roughly 18 long months of research. The research team opined that the body design (back and sides) of an acoustic guitar should reflect the mechanism of the human ear or an amphitheater. In 1966, they came up with the first semi-parabolic guitar back which had a demonstrably richer, fuller and lush tone with consistency across the playing scale. But despite several attempts, the design team found wood to be incapable of serving their ‘roundback bowl shaped’ design concept. So after rigorous testing and research, they came up with a patented material that could be precision-molded in any form without any need for bracing. They called it Lyrachord.  The Lyrachord is not just musical but it is also military-grade tough! And thus began the journey of the Ovation Roundback that has won the hearts of hundreds of thousands of musicians as it gained popularity across the continents.

After 50 years of manufacturing guitars, Ovation continues to produce advanced designs with a forward-thinking approach to the conventional acoustic-electric models. These guitars are highly innovative and thoughtfully crafted after thorough research and development. With a ‘ready for stage’ ethos, each Ovation acoustic guitar offers first-rate construction and integrated electronics to add something fresh and new to an oversaturated acoustic guitar market. Their offerings span from nifty beginner friendly guitars to advanced high-end models that are endorsed by some world class artists. In this list, we have tried to include ‘something for everyone’ regardless of your skill level or budget.

#1 Ovation CS24 Celebrity Standard Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Ruby Red

  • Body: Solid Spruce Top with Lyrachord Body
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood with 20 Frets
  • Electronics: Ovation Slimline Pickup and OP-4BT preamp.
  • Tuner: Yes
  • Gig Bag: No

The CS24 is also called the Celebrity Standard Mid-Depth Cutaway. The Solid Spruce top at this price range adds a lot of value to the instrument. Ovation guitars are quite unconventional looking but their design is equally unique. Instead of the standard back and sides, the guitar has a rounded back with a Lyrachord bowl (fiberglass). The bowl has variable depths based on the model and series you choose. The CS24 has a mid-depth bowl, which makes this a really slender guitar with reasonable projection. It has a mahogany neck with an ovangkol fingerboard that houses 20 frets with dot inlays. The hardware, fit and finish are great for the price.

The nut width is only 42.86mm, which makes this narrower than the average acoustic guitar specs. The slim neck and nut width make it really easy to play this, especially for beginners. The single cutaway at the 14th fret makes it easy to access the entire fretboard. The ABS nut is nothing special but it can easily be upgraded if desired. The guitar plays well right out of the box and it ships with surprisingly high-quality D’Addario EXP11 Coated 80/20 Bronze strings. Bravo!

The tone is compact with an even spread and some marginal compression in the mids. The clarity while playing notes is particularly well-defined if you play fingerstyle. The chords sound lush, though they don’t have an assertive projection unless you work the strumming hand a bit. The guitar responds really well to dynamic playing and strumming and sounds reasonable when playing melodies with a pick. As for the electronics, the CS24 is equipped with a stock Ovation Slimline pickup, an OP-4BT preamp and a built in tuner. The plugged-in sound of the guitar, though not exemplary in any way, does a good job for the price. It sounds pleasing enough to amp it up while you practice at home or jam with your friends.

The Ovation CS24 is a great option for beginners and students who are looking for something affordable that plays clean and looks unique. A solid spruce top, pickup + preamp and built-in tuner is a great bargain for the price.

Product Specifications:

  • Unique looks and durable construction
  • Solid Sitka Spruce Top
  • Sleek Neck and Compact Body
  • An entry point to the world of roundback guitars
  • Good value for money

#2 Ovation Applause Standard Nylon Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Natural

  • Model: AB24CII – Nylon
  • Body: Layered Cedar Top with Lyrachord Body
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Ovangkol with 19 frets
  • Electronics: CT600A Pickup with CE304T Preamp
  • Tuner: Yes
  • Gig Bag: Available but not included

The Ovation Applause Standard has a layered Cedar top. This doesn’t mean it is cheap MDF or particle wood like other entry-level guitars. Instead, it is a layered laminate top with genuine Cedar wood. The back and sides (or body in this case) are made from the proprietary Lyrachord material with a parabolic curve. This is a mid-depth bowl with a relatively narrow build. The mahogany neck is layered with an ovangkol fretboard that houses 19 frets. Other noteworthy features include an ovangkol bridge, white ivory ABS binding and white button tuners.

The neck is broad and flat, as is common with vintage classical guitar models. It feels sturdy and playable and the handsome cutaway at the 14th fret allows for access to all the upper frets. The acoustic tone is surprisingly punchy and the project is great for such a compact guitar. It responds well to finger nails and fingerstyle playing. The guitar ships with stock D’Addario YB-EXP46N strings. The intonation and setup of the guitar is reasonable and may need some adjustments to suit your preferences. The construction quality and natural finish of the guitar is satisfactory with no noticeable flaws.

The Ovation Slimline under-saddle piezo pickup does a reasonable job when the guitar is plugged in. The CE304T preamp has a control panel to adjust low, mid and treble alongside a master volume knob. The onboard tuner does an excellent job for a quick tune up. For the entry-level price tag, just the inclusion of a reliable pickup and preamp can be considered sufficient value for money. That being said, it would be unrealistic to expect the guitar to put up any exemplary recording performance on stage when plugged in. The overall tone of the electronics is reasonable for the price, with some punch in the mids and no glassy or brittle highs. The lows are warm but slightly weak and the guitar can sound compressed at loud volumes. On the whole, the AB24CII retains a warm and well-defined character when strummed and plucked.

The AB24CII is an entry-level classical guitar that combines the trademark design innovations of Ovation with a fresh sonic profile at an affordable rate.

Product Highlights:

  • Entry Level Classical Guitar
  • Great for beginners and students
  • Unique looks and tone
  • Affordable guitar – High value for money

#3 Ovation Celebrity Elite Exotic Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Quilted Maple

  • Model: CE48P-RG
  • Body: Layered Quilted Maple Top with Lyrachord Body
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Ovangkol with 23 frets
  • Electronics: OP-4CT Preamp with CP-100 Pickup
  • Tuner: Yes
  • Gig Bag: Available but not included

If something draws you to the CE48P-RG in a store, it has got to be the scintillating quilter maple top in Caribbean blue. If the quilted maple top isn’t stunning enough, the wood epaulets around the soundholes and ivory white binding are bound to get heads turning. The guitar is also available in an equally stunning dark burst on exotic koa and a tiger eye quilted maple top. The Lyrachord bowl shaped body in this model is super-shallow and the sound hole is offset towards the edges by the neck.

The ovangkol fingerboard has 23 frets with pearloid micro dot inlays and a cutaway at the 14th fret to facilitate access to the entire fretboard. Other noteworthy features include a rosewood bridge, die-cast sealed tuners and quarter-sawn scalloped X bracing. The guitar sounds great out of the box with medium-low action and good intonation. However, the only letdown is that the case for it needs to be purchased separately. 

This lithe guitar can pack a punch when it comes to projection. The chords sound rich and loud with moderate pressure while strumming. The notes are clear and crisp, which makes it a great candidate for fingerstyle players. The stock Ovation CP-100 pickup does a great job when combined with the OP-4CT preamp. The control panel has controls to work the bass, mid and treble and a master volume knob. It also has a built in tuner and battery indicator to boot. The tuner does a fast and accurate job and the light on the screen is sufficient for dark stages. The plugged-in sound of the guitar is good for the price with a thick low end and some top end shimmer. The mids are somewhat scooped when you plug in the guitar. It may sound a little compressed until you find the right setting on the control panel.

The Celebrity Series is the highest selling among all the Ovation product lines and for a darn good reason. These are gorgeous looking, moderately priced and highly playable instruments with good electronics and hardware. The CE48P-RG is an equally good option for students and professionals who want a stunning instrument with stage-ready capabilities.

Product Highlights:

  • Gorgeous Quilted Maple Top
  • Unique offset sound hole with wood epaulets
  • Loud projection and well defined high range notes
  • Good plugged in sound

#4 Ovation Exotic Wood Elite Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Poplar Burl Burst

  • Model: C2078AXP2-PB
  • Body: Exotic Poplar Top with Lyrachord Body
  • Neck: Maple
  • Fretboard: Pau Ferro with 22 Frets
  • Electronics: Ovation OCP1K Pickup with OP Pro Preamp
  • Tuner: Yes
  • Gig Bag: Included

For the connoisseurs and hedonists, one glimpse of the exotic poplar burl burst on this beauty is enough to go weak in the knees. Calling the Poplar burl top dazzling still feels like an understatement. The guitar top is layered with a thin soundboard and reinforced with ‘LX scalloped bracing’. The maple neck has a Pau Ferro fingerboard with 22 frets and no inlays. The Lyrachord body has a deep contour and Ovation’s trademark multi-port soundhole. The other noteworthy features include white ABS binding, matching pau ferro bridge, and black satin nickel tuners with back buttons.

The deep contoured body and offset soundhole team up really well when it comes to projection. The lows are warm and rich, the mids are chunky and the highs have crispness and clarity without sounding harsh or brittle. The guitar does an equally good job at handling notes, chords and fingerstyle playing. Moreover, it sounds equally lush and warm when plugged in. The OCP1K pickup and OP Pro preamp are comparable to the high-end Fischer electronics in terms of performance and tone.

The control panel features a dial for gain, another dial for drive, and four sliders to control the low, mid, high and expression. It also has an onboard tuner with an LED display and on/off toggle button. The fit, finish and setup are faultless out of the box with great intonation and a very playable low-ish action on the strings. The guitar ships with a sturdy gig bag and Adamas OV1818E strings, which have a bright tone and respectable resonance.

This distinctive piece of art is no different from every other instrument in the Exotic Woods Elite Series by Ovation. Each guitar is meticulously book-matched from handpicked exotic tone woods with dark to light burst finish and optimized electronics. Any serious musician would find this guitar to be a reliable companion in the studio and on stage.

Product Specifications

  • Exotic top is Eye-Catching
  • Book matched Exotic Tone Wood
  • Optimized Electronics
  • Top-Shelf Fit, Finish and Hardware
  • Studio and Stage Ready Instrument

#5 Ovation Elite D-Scale Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Black Textured

  • Model: DS778TX
  • Body: AA Solid Sitka Spruce Top with Lyrachord Body
  • Neck: Maple
  • Fretboard:  Pau Ferro with 22 Frets
  • Electronics: Ovation OCP1K Pickup with Ovation OP Pro preamp
  • Tuner: Yes
  • Gig Bag: Available but not included

Welcome to the extended range of the baritone guitars. The Elite TX-D is built with a subtle but stunning textured black AA Sitka Spruce top. The guitar body has a deep contoured Lyrachord body and the trademark multi-port offset soundhole. The maple neck is matched with a pau ferro fingerboard that houses 22 frets without any inlays. The slender neck has the feel of an electric guitar and great playability. Other noteworthy features of the guitar include black die-cast tuners, matched pau ferro bridge, scalloped X bracing and painted ABS binding. The overall components and construction quality is reminiscent of a high-end boutique build. The fit and finish of the guitar is excellent and it plays well right out of the box.     

The Elite TX D-Scale is easy on the hands and invites you to play all over the fretboard. The D profile neck and cutaway at the 14th fret make equally suited for regular fretting and upper-register antics. The round-back sound combined with the dropped tuning yields a uniquely rich and peculiar sound. Most conventional baritone acoustic guitars are toned down by a fourth (B-E-A-D-F#-B). However, the TX D-Scale sticks to a more palatable D-G-C-F-A-D tuning.

You can drop the tuning lower if you replace the stings with a thicker gauge. Although, the medium gauge strings are what make this guitar highly playable without any adjustment for those who are shifting from standard tuning. Another great thing about the one-step-down tuning is that you can simply put a capo on the second fret and continue to use this as a guitar with standard tuning.

As plugged-in sound goes, the optimized electronics are undeniably stellar (as discussed before). They complement the build of this particular guitar better than other models. The strumming sits really well in the mix of an entire band without sounding muddy, as baritone guitars tend to. The OCP-1K is just a top-shelf in-saddle piezo crystal pickup with a wholesome tone. There is nothing strident about the highs and the plugged in sound is really balanced and vibrant. The control panel on the preamp is capable of sculpting some memorable tones even on a lifeless combo guitar amp.

Product Specifications:

  • High quality extended range guitar
  • Top-grade electronics and tone wood
  • Balanced tone that sits well in the mix
  • Excellent construction & craftsmanship

#6 Ovation Glen Campbell Signature Acoustic Electric Guitar, Natural

  • Model: 1627VL-4GC
  • Body: AAA Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Neck: Five piece maple/mahogany
  • Fretboard: Pau Ferro
  • Electronics: Ovation OCP1K pickup with Ovation Retro concentric Preamp
  • Tuner: Yes
  • Gigbag: Yes

The most noteworthy artist on the roster, Glen Campbell is to Ovation what Chet Atkins was to Gibson. The 1627VL-4GC leaves no stone unturned to produce a vintage instrument with a throwback to the 70s styling and tone to honor the legend. The guitar top is AAA grade Solid Spruce with a mid-depth Lyrachord bowl-back. The neck has a slightly wider than usual profile and is made from five piece mahogany and maple. The pau ferro fingerboard houses 20 frets with acrylic diamond inlays. There is no cutaway on this model and unlike other Ovation guitars, the Glenn Campbell signature has a traditional soundhole with a vintage rosette and a plush natural finish. Other noteworthy features include scalloped X bracing, white ABS binding, die-cast chrome tuners and a beautiful walnut bridge. All components and hardware are of the highest imaginable quality. The finish on the frets is just perfect and the craftsmanship is unquestionably flawless. The guitar is available in a natural and sunburst finish and ships with Adamas OV1818E light gauge phosphor bronze strings and a high-quality gig bag.

The unplugged sound of the guitar is clean and an even balance across the lows, mids and highs. The guitar, in general, has a long sustain and resounding projection regardless of the style it is played in. The chords and notes sound full and pristine with a distinctly clear high end. The consistency of tone is equally respectable when you shift to fingerstyle playing, especially with a thumb pick. The plugged in sound really shines in the low-mid range when you tame the highs a little and boost the lows a notch. The strumming sounds warm and clean and the tone responds really well to licks, bends and vibrato. The unique control panel is a single knob with layered dials that allow you to access the volume and EQ. It may take some getting used to but it does a great job at sculpting the tone.

The model does due justice to the enduring legacy of a legendary artist like Glen Campbell. It is undoubtedly a no brainer for Campbell fans, but serious professionals may find themselves surprised by its capabilities and engineering.

Product Highlights:

  • AAA Solid Sitka Spruce Top
  • Excellent Optimized Electronics
  • Boutique grade components and construction
  • Very even and wholesome tonal profile
  • Perfect for Campbell fans & professionals

The Final Word:

Ovation guitars dare to depart from the centuries of customary guitar making techniques to offer a highly hybrid and innovative design. Many guitarists all over the world have adopted this new step in guitar manufacturing and fallen in love with its peculiar sound. The ovation roundback tone is often described as focused and balanced. The Lyrachord material used for the body is far more durable than wood can ever dream to be. The radical product design, offset soundhole and book-matches tone woods of the high-end product lines result in some memorable slimline guitars that are stage and studio ready. They also feature some amazing models in their Artist Signature Series that are used by world-renowned musicians like Dave Amore, Kaki King and Melissa Etheridge.

We hope this detailed review and round-up of the best acoustic guitars by Ovation will help you find your dream instrument. As always, Happy hunting!

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