Before we get to our Ovation Applause 6 String Review, let’s first discuss a little about the company.
Ovation first went into production in the late 60s and caused quite a stir with their composite plastic back. You loved them or otherwise. However, they developed quite a fan base despite the usual traditionalists whining.
The first time I saw one was at a Jasper Carrott concert in London. He was a comic from up the motorway. He would do his act with a guitar around his neck. This particular night it was an Ovation. What is that, I thought? I was dying to hear him play it, but apart from a couple of chords, he didn’t. The irony of it is, that he can actually play very well.
Still, off to the shops, I rushed…
No one had one. A couple of years later, I came across one in a music shop. I liked it, and a few years later, I bought one. They have had some well-known players. Cat Stevens, Brian May, Chet Atkins, and Glen Campbell. Probably ought not to forget John Lennon, Eddie Van Halen, or Mark Knopfler. And quite a few others. Some people liked them. Quite a few, actually.
They were doing very well, but then we have a classic example of corporate whining. It had to be either Fender or Gibson, and with Ovation, it was the former. They bought Ovation in 2008 and promptly realized that Ovation was better at it than they were.
The toys came right out of the Fender pram…
And mirroring the Gibson/Epiphone saga, they closed the Ovation factory in Connecticut. All production was moved overseas, and they banished them to the Far East.
Fender then embarrassed themselves even further. They started manufacturing their own range of very poor guitars from the same Connecticut site. Drum Workshop stepped in and bought Ovation and a few Fender subsidiaries and kicked them out of Connecticut and brought Ovation ‘home’ as it were.
Time for the Applause…
They were never cheap, and a lot of young players who wanted them couldn’t afford them. Ovation introduced the Applause range as its cheapest entry-level guitar. Now they could, and there were waiting lists in some places to get them. These days the Applause range is made in China.
The Applause has undergone some design changes over the years, but the quality is still there. It doesn’t try to be a challenger to the high-end acoustics of the Ovation Balladeer, Legend, or the Elite. It is its own instrument. So what is the Ovation Applause 6 String all about?
Let’s take a look and find out…
The Ovation Applause 6 String – Overview
The Applause, as I have said, is an entry-level Ovation, and it is a great place to start your Ovation journey. It has all the looks of its expensive cousins but naturally hasn’t used the finer points in its construction. But you can’t deny it looks the part.
The new and later designs have given us the multi-sound hole design instead of a single soundhole. This particular model plays beautifully, and the electrics offer an extra dimension. The player who is beginning to progress cannot fail to be impressed and enthused by how it plays and how it sounds.
A unique sound…
I will admit the sound doesn’t suit every taste. But then other than a top of the range Martin or Yamaha, very few guitars do. The Ovation sound is unique, prompted in the main by its composite back. And you can hear it in the Applause range as well. It has a reputation, so let’s see if it lives up to it.
This guitar has a layered spruce top. Some will recognize that a laminated top may, in some circumstances, hinder the sound. But it is not always a bad design. Solid wood tops for the soundboard can be subject to changes in weather conditions and humidity. This can cause them to warp or become slightly misshapen.
Layered woods are less likely to do that and are, therefore, a bit more hard-wearing. The choice of layered spruce for the top is a good choice, especially for a guitar that will often be used by beginners and improvers.
The top though, still has that resonant spruce sound that creates such an impact. The soundboard is given a scalloped, quarter-sawn X-bracing. The bracing is also an important design feature for creating a great sound. The exact amount of vibration of the spruce top wood is required to create the best tone.
Scalloped X-bracing, when well made and fitted, offers the chance for the Spruce top to do its job and sing.
A deep resonance…
The rest of the body, of course, is a mid, not full, depth Lyrachord. This is a composite material that is essentially fiberglass. The formation and structure have been manipulated a little to give it acoustic tendencies. The round back shape is designed to give the guitar a deeper sound that will resonate.
Emphasizing not only the highs from the neck end but lower frequencies from the bridge end. Together they combine with the spruce top to produce that Ovation sound.
Powerful and balanced…
It is a design that is voiced for a natural acoustic response. There is a good powerful volume and balanced sound that is not too bass-heavy. Hard to find a word to describe the sound. Oh, yes, I know. It is an Ovation. That will suffice.
Those looking for the wood body and side will also be surprised to find there is no traditional soundhole. There are, in fact, four laser-cut smaller soundholes towards the top at the neck end. It is called Ovations’ ‘multiport’ sound. I am not going to go into the technical acoustic details. It is far easier to just listen.
There is a single-cutaway that gives full access to the neck, and the body is finished in a plain wood style with a vintage-looking varnish.
I would agree that they can feel strange to play at first. And I will deal with that later on. But the sound is all there. Not as crisp and clean as the high-end Ovations guitars, of course, which shows how good those models are. But well-made with good materials and great design.
The neck is made from Nato. This is a variant of Mahogany and is derived from the Mora tree. It has similar attributes to Mahogany but without some of the finer nuances. As a neck material, it is more than adequate. It is strong and straight and looks quite nice.
They have given it a soft ‘V’ neck styling, which makes it easy to hold and play. It has a satin finish, so movement up and down the neck feels smooth and quick. It is a full scale of 25 inches.
There is an Ovangkol fingerboard. That might be a new wood to some. It is a native of West Africa and is a member of the Indian Rosewood family of trees. Similar coloration then and with the same feel and hardness as standard Rosewood.
It has 23 frets, but due to the shape of the fingerboard, only 17 are fully available. There are the standard dots on the fingerboard but also on the top edge. The top and bottom edges of the neck have a white binding. It has an adjustable truss rod.
There is a nicely designed headstock that gives it a sleek look. And there are sealed and shaped die-cast machine heads, as well as an Ovangkol hardtail bridge. Simple and nothing to write home about. But also plain and functional. Nothing much is needed except to have accurate tuners, and they are.
Always a difficult area for an acoustic-electric guitar to get the sound right. And you can’t really recreate the pure acoustic sound of any guitar with the pickup built-in. Having said that, Ovation is known to be ‘stage-friendly,’ and this guitar certainly has some sound positives.
They have installed an Ovation CE304T preamp and combined it with an Ovation slimline piezo pickup. The sound is clear and quite defined, and it has a decent tonal balance. Controls are situated on the top of the body near your elbow. They feature some basic tone controls and a volume. There is a built-in tuner, which is always a nice addition.
How does it play and sound?
Going back to a previous comment, it can feel a little strange to play for some at first. The shape of the body means that you will have to adjust how you hold it, if you are used to a standard body that is.
Some have complained it slides off their lap and they can’t balance it. That is the case if you aren’t willing to make adjustments to how you hold the guitar. Once you get a feel for that, it is well-balanced and easy to hold. And also, it should be said, very lightweight.
It plays very nicely as you would expect for an Ovation. The neck has an electric guitar feel to it and is smooth and easy to negotiate. And you have to note that the out of the box setup means it needs very little adjustments.
For a young player, it is a great guitar, as it is for an improver level. But the quality of how this plays is going to suit experienced players as well.
Ovation, through and through…
The sound is, as I have said already, Ovation. They have combined the composite body and Spruce top with a design that gives a great sound.
The sound of Ovation guitars does not suit everyone, as I have already said. But they appeal to a lot of people, and it is easy to hear why. Unplugged, it is a very nice sound. It doesn’t have the deep richness of a big Dreadnought, but it isn’t supposed to have.
If that is what you want, it is time to look elsewhere. But there is a depth and clarity of top-end to give it a unique sound. A sound that is both crisp and clear – an Ovation sound. I love it, as you have probably gathered by now.
Ovation Applause 6 String Review Pros and Cons
- Very solid build and setup.
- Wonderfully intonated, clean, balanced tones up and down the fretboard.
- Superb value for the money.
- Roundback design may take some getting used to.
- The piezo can get a bit ‘quacky’ sounding under heavy attack.
Looking for some other superb acoustic guitars?
If you’re an Ovation fan, you may well enjoy our in-depth Ovation Elite 1778TX review.
Or if you’d prefer something more traditional, how about the excellent Epiphone Hummingbird Pro, the Taylor BBT Big Baby, the Taylor GS Mini, the Epiphone EJ 200SCE, as well as the Martin LX1 Little Martin.
Ovation Applause 6 String Review – What we think
This could be a short section just summed up by saying ‘excellent.’ But I need to expand on that.
For a beginner or starter, they are going to consider themselves very lucky. I doubt you will find a better starter guitar for the price point. It isn’t cheap for a new player, but the quality is going to inspire them. And if you are looking for a guitar, you haven’t got to change too soon, then this is it. They will not grow out of this in five minutes.
For an improver, depending on what guitar they have, this is going to be a step-up. Everything is there that they will need to improve their sound and technique. For an experienced player, it is still an excellent instrument. And for those on a budget looking for quality, this is an exceptionally good value for the money instrument.
You could say I like it. But having owned one myself, I know how good these things are. An exceptional instrument at a great price point.
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