c.1983 Ovation American Elite 1537 Ac/El Guitar

Update: This guitar just came back in for consignment (Apr 26, 2016), so I've added some extra photos a bit below and updated the entire content. There's a soundclip of the acoustic and electric tone above.
A while back I did a fret level/dress and setup on this guitar and so it came into the shop in good order, though I did need to compensate the B-string slot on the saddle a little bit, restring it, and shim-up the saddle unit just a hair to make action perfect at 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble at the 12th fret, strung with "lights."

I used to play an old '68 or '69 (can't remember) full-depth Ovation Balladeer about 10 years ago and really, really enjoyed the sound and feel of it: for a 000-width guitar, the full-depth older Ovations have a big, round, strumming-friendly tone. This guitar is like one of those but with more lower-end oomph (it reminds me a bit of a '60s J-45 in a way) and a lot more overall volume. It's a punchy, warm, singer's buddy, for sure.

That should be no surprise, however, as the "Elite" 1537 is basically an Ovation Adamas (upscale) model but with a solid spruce top instead of carbon-fiber. For an '83, this is a pretty impressive acoustic-electric instrument that favors its acoustic side greatly in front of a mic (do you hear that, too?).

It has the usual 1 11/16" nut width and a hybrid C/V-shape mild neck profile. The neck is dead straight and everything is in good order and all-original.

The electronics are simple and, I think, passive. There's a simple volume/tone setup and both stereo and mono jack inputs (for splitting to two amps, possibly). The piezo unit is embedded in the one-piece saddle.

Construction is also good as you'd expect on an American instrument... and when I rambled around inside to access the truss rod (yes, you have to open the back panel...) I also noticed the neck was held on by two giant bolts. Way to go! That's a lot sturdier and more practical than some of the old Ovations I've worked on that were simply epoxied to the back.

 The tuners are nicely-functioning sealed machines.

The wood used in the guitar is all top-notch including a 5-piece mahogany/maple neck, rosewood fretboard and bridge with contrasting wood inlay in the board, and a solid spruce top with "multi-tonebar" bracing (or whatever Ovation calls this -- lots of strips running down the center lengthwise). 

Curiously, the tone with a fresh set of strings reminds me of a cross between a warm/sweet Martin 000 and the rumble and extra mids of a Gibson J-45 or similar. It's a good sound.

And now -- extra photos that were missed in my original blog post:

The "woodsy" soundholes are identical to the stuff used on Kaman's Adamas line, too.

Since shooting this I've restrung with new lights (54w-12) and compensated the B-string slot better.

Note how the upper area of the soundboard has darkened around the soundholes -- curious, huh? I'm wondering if this has to do with some sort of UV-change if it was out on a stand or...?

There are no cracks anywhere on the guitar.

The wood knobs are nice.

The finish on the neck is in great shape.

It comes with its original, molded, brown hard case. Nice!


Unknown said…
I have a 1983 ovation celebrity model 1537 ( no pick up). I purchased this several years ago with the original case. One question I have is regarding the best capo to use. If someone has a suggestion I’d like to hear it.
Thanks George