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5 Best Ovation Guitars in 2021 – Are You Ready for Airplane Technology?

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photo displays Ovation Adamas MD80

Best Overall – Ovation Adamas MD80

Sound
Playability
Overall Quality
Hardware
Value For Money

Summary

The Ovation Adamas MD80 is the professional level model that every guitarist should at least try. It will make you feel like you’ve just been transported to the future.

It’s like the DeLorean in the movie Back to the Future. You just don’t need a flux capacitor to get there. 

Pros:
-Carbon fiber top is incredibly strong and lightweight
-More volume than other Ovation models
-Soft V-shaped neck profile is very comfortable even for my large hands
-Dark visuals provide a nice, professional, and very classy look

Cons:
-The carbon fiber top may not appeal to more traditional-minded guitarists
-Thin neck might cause trouble for really thick fingers

Who is this guitar for?
If you are looking for one of the most professional sounding acoustic electric guitars with a unique and futuristic design, you should look no further than the Ovation Adamas MD80. 

4.8

Compare prices:


The Next Best:

Best Live Performer – Ovation Celebrity Elite Plus CE44P-FKOA Mid-Depth


Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros: 

  • Strikingly good looks make you the center of attention
  • A well-balanced acoustic sound that isn’t boring
  • Incredible tone-shaping electronics essential for plugged-in performances
  • Lightweight and durable thanks to the engineering and materials. 
  • The onboard tuner is a must-have for live performances – especially outdoors. 

Cons:

  • Acoustic tone is not as rich as an all-wood guitar
  • Rounded back isn’t as comfortable to play when standing up

Who is this guitar for?

If you are looking for a guitar that stands out on stage both sonically and aesthetically, the Ovation Celebrity Elite Plus CE44P-FKOA is a top choice. 

Best For Electric Players – Ovation Celebrity Plus Super Shallow


Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Super shallow bowl reduces overall thickness
  • Onboard electronics and tuner make it incredibly versatile
  • The playability is as close to an electric guitar as you can get from an acoustic

Cons:

  • The thinner body equals less natural volume
  • A bit too jangly for my taste when it comes to rhythm playing

Who is this guitar for?

If you’re an electric guitarist that wants a full-sounding acoustic to add to your collection, look no further than the Ovation Celebrity Plus Super Shallow. 

Best Budget – Ovation Elite Celebrity 


Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Priced affordably especially for the quality
  • Onboard electronics and tuner allow for incredible flexibility
  • Great looks that let people know you’re playing a classic!

Cons:

  • Rounded back is a little awkward to play standing up

Who is this guitar for?

If you want an amazing acoustic-electric but arent’ quite ready to drop a ton of cash, then the Ovation Elite Celebrity is the guitar to consider.

Best Beginner Ovation – Ovation Celebrity Standard


Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Comfortable neck profile allows for easy notation for all hand sizes
  • Onboard tuner eliminates the need to carry around an extra accessory
  • Unplugged sound is clear and well-balanced
  • Beginners can grow with this guitar without growing out of it

Cons:

  • Shallower body style may be better for some players instead of the mid-depth

Who is this guitar for?

If you’re a beginner who wants a guitar that you will be able to use as you perfect your skills, then the Ovation Celebrity Standard is a solid choice. 

I know you have seen them on stage at some point. Their look is instantly recognizable. The gorgeous leaf design surrounding an array of soundholes. The unique headstock design. And, perhaps most notably, the black, rounded back. 

These are Ovation guitars.

Their unique style began in Connecticut by – believe it or not – an aerospace company. 

That’s right, they’re like the airplanes of the guitar world.

As the story goes, the owner of the company, Charles Kaman, decided to apply his company’s innovative aerospace technology to guitar making. He was an avid guitarist, so the venture only seemed practical. 

Little did he know that his innovations would span more than 50 years into the future and become the instruments of choice for artists such as Melissa Ethridge, Paul McCartney, Richie Sambora, and many more. 

The trademark of Ovation guitars is the rounded, Lyrachord® back. This material is essentially fiberglass that has been specifically “tuned” to resonate at guitar sound frequencies.

Pretty sciency stuff if you ask me. 

The following guitars are hand-picked, meaning that I have personally played each one.

It is important to note that Ovation offers an overwhelmingly extensive lineup of models, but each one shares the same dedication to innovation that made Ovation a flagship guitar company.

Let’s take a look at several of the best Ovation guitars. 

Every one of these Ovations acoustic guitars is here based on extensive research and combined 34+ years experience of me (Darren) and Teemu.

Who crafted this post:

reveals one of the experienced guitar players who write for guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: DL Shepherd

Darren has been playing guitar for over 23 years. He fronted the metal band Suddenly Silence in the early 2000’s, and also achieved recognition as an award-winning bluegrass guitarist.

A native of southwestern Virginia, and has shared the stage with many big-name acts from various genres. When he is not playing one of his many guitars, he can be found riding his Harley through the mountains of Virginia.

photo reveals the Owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Editing: Teemu Suomala

Playing guitar since 2009. Mainly focused on electric guitars, although plays acoustics too. Started this blog in January 2020.

Use the table of content to jump to the section you want:

Best Ovation Guitars in 2021

A couple of other articles worth checking out when buying a new acoustic (click the title to view):

First, these posts will help you handle the protection and storage side of things:

These posts help you to achieve the tone you want:

And here are a couple of other acoustic guitar buyer’s guides worth checking out:

5 Best Takamine Acoustic Guitars – Super Underrated

5 Best Taylor Guitars Under $1000 – Innovative & Legendary

5 Best Martin Guitars Under $1000 – Legendary


Best Overall – Ovation Adamas MD80

photo displays Ovation Adamas MD80

The Ovation Adamas MD80 is quite possibly one of the most unique acoustic electrics that I have ever played. By that I mean it is an absolutely amazing experience that I will not soon forget.

Ovation’s history in aerospace engineering shines through prominently with the MD80. From its construction to its playability and tone, you would be hard-pressed to find a guitar that is so vibrant. 

Construction/Appearance

The appearance of the Ovation Adamas MD80 is nothing but futuristic. We can expect that from a company that originally specialized in building flying machines. 

Using the same Lyrachord® body as its brethren, the MD80 stands out by boasting a ultra-thin carbon fiber top. I’ll explain the tonal characteristics in a minute, but you just have to look at this thing! I mean come on – this guitar is a work of art to me.

The lack of fretboard inlays gives a professional and clean appearance. 

If a guitar could wear an Armani suit, this guitar would have a closet full of them. 

The darker look is appealing to my eyes, and it is definitely a departure from the more traditional styles. Carbon fiber is known for its durability, so this guitar is about as solid as they come. 

Playability/Sound

It plays like silk. That’s the best description that I can come up with. The soft V-shaped American Black Walnut neck provides an unbelievably comfortable grip on the ebony fingerboard.

It has a rich, resonate, full tone that blew my mind. I will admit to being a bit of a skeptic when it came down to the carbon fiber top, but those doubts quickly went away whenever I struck the first chord. 

It has such great volume and sustain that I really didn’t think it needed to be plugged in at all.

Luckily, Ovation has that covered with their OP Pro Studio electronics. This is the most advanced electronics system that Ovation offers. It definitely gives players more tone-shaping capabilities than the OP systems found on more budget-friendly models. 

The Ovation Adamas MD80 is the professional level model that every guitarist should try. It will make you feel like you’ve just been transported to the future.

It’s like the DeLorean in the movie Back to the Future. You just don’t need a flux capacitor to get there. 

Pros:

  • Carbon fiber top is incredibly strong and lightweight
  • More volume than other Ovation models
  • Soft V-shaped neck profile is very comfortable even for my large hands
  • Dark visuals provide a nice, professional, and very classy look

Cons:

  • The carbon fiber top may not appeal to more traditional-minded guitarists

Who is this guitar for?

If you are looking for one of the most professional-sounding acoustic-electric guitars with a unique and futuristic design, you should look no further than the Ovation Adamas MD80. 

Check Price on:


Best Live Performer – Ovation Celebrity Elite Plus CE44P-FKOA Mid-Depth 

The first thing you will notice about this gem is its striking appearance. I mean really – can you really beat the natural aesthetics of Koa? This tropical tonewood is not only gorgeous, but it provides a warm, resonate tone that sounds as good as it looks.

Construction/Appearance

We can skip the back and sides. It’s all Lyrachord®. The top is layered Koa, meaning it is made of multiple layers of thin wood.

This differs from typical laminates because each layer is actually wood, not wood pulp. This layering of wood produces an incredibly durable top with a substantial increase in volume over typical laminates.

The Ovation Celebrity Elite Plus CE44P-FKOA has a mahogany neck, an ovangkol fingerboard, and some very attractive abalone inlays. Throw in Ovation’s signature soundhole array surrounded by leaves and you have a guitar that will make you look amazing under the lights of a stage.

Or in a coffee shop. Or in a bar. Your mileage may vary. 

Playability/Sound

Hear how this guitar sounds:

Here’s where it matters: Can it sound as good as it looks. 

The answer is yes…yes it can. Probably even better. 

The back is a mid-depth bowl, meaning that it isn’t too thick, but not too thin.

To put it into perspective, it reminds me of a thin line dreadnought. This is the most common style that I have seen in stores and on stages around the country. 

The mid-depth bowl adds a bit of high-end when played acoustically. In other words, you’re not going to get that big low-end dreadnought sound from it. This can be said for nearly all Ovations in a sense. 

What you do get is a surprisingly well-balanced tone with a decent amount of volume.

But let’s face it: Ovations were designed to be plugged in, and that’s where they really shine. 

What they lack in unplugged tone is more than compensated by their incredible electronics. This system consists of a CP-100 pickup feeding their OP-4CT preamp. This system provides incredible tone management when plugged in, and best of all….

It is whisper-quiet…

Ovation really blurs the line between an acoustic guitar and electric guitar. This extends beyond the electronics and into the playability realm as well. 

If you are looking for an acoustic that mimics the playability of an electric, then you would be hard-pressed to find a better choice. 

The action is smooth and effortless with a thin neck profile that feels comfortable even for large hands (like mine). 

The Ovation Celebrity Elite Plus CE44P-FKOA is a show-stopper visually and sonically – and that’s the way it was meant to be. 

Pros: 

  • Strikingly good looks make you the center of attention
  • A well-balanced acoustic sound that isn’t boring
  • Incredible tone-shaping electronics essential for plugged-in performances
  • Lightweight and durable thanks to the engineering and materials. 
  • The onboard tuner is a must-have for live performances – especially outdoors. 

Cons:

  • Acoustic tone is not as rich as an all-wood guitar
  • Rounded back isn’t as comfortable to play when standing up

Who is this guitar for?

If you are looking for a guitar that stands out on stage both sonically and aesthetically, the Ovation Celebrity Elite Plus CE44P-FKOA is a top choice. 

Check Price on:


Best For Electric Players – Ovation Celebrity Plus Super Shallow

It seems that electric players can often struggle with finding a guitar that suits their needs. I can completely relate to that. Some electric players that I know have often complained that most acoustic guitars are too thick and uncomfortable to play. 

Let me introduce you to the Ovation Celebrity Plus Super Shallow.

Construction/Appearance

As you might have guessed, the Ovation Celebrity Plus Super Shallow has a super shallow rounded back instead of the thicker mid-depth back. This is perfect for those who think that acoustics are just too big and bulky.

The solid Sitka spruce top is very attractive, showing off the natural grain while maintaining durability. The super shallow back is LyrachordⓇ, as one would expect from Ovation. 

Koa veneer and pearloid inlays add some visual flair to the mahogany neck and ovangkol fingerboard. It is a gorgeous guitar with a more traditional look with its center soundhole.

Playability/Sound

Hear how this guitar sounds:

Electric players rejoice! The crisp tone delivered by the Ovation Celebrity Plus Super Shallow is absolutely beautiful. Although it lacks the volume of thicker guitars, the responsiveness of the solid Sitka spruce top makes intricate leads stand out. 

I personally love playing leads with this model instead of full-force strumming. It is a bit too jangly for my tastes when it comes to rhythm playing. It is, however, a very versatile instrument that should not be shunned for what it is.

Electric players will love the way the guitar feels sitting or standing. It is incredibly lightweight, and the body is not too thick. The neck is just as expected: comfortable and buttery smooth all the way up to the highest frets. 

The onboard OP-4BT preamp and slimline pickup with 6 piezo transducers produce a crystal-clear tone when plugged up, and the EQ is among the best in the business.

Although piezo pickups can be noisy, Ovation has somehow figured out how to cancel that out and make an instrument that is worthy of live performances as well as studio work. 

If you’re looking to add a sweet acoustic-electric to your lineup of electric guitars, then I would highly suggest you take this bad boy out for a spin. 

Pros:

  • Super shallow bowl reduces overall thickness
  • Onboard electronics and tuner make it incredibly versatile
  • The playability is as close to an electric guitar as you can get from an acoustic

Cons:

  • The thinner body equals less natural volume
  • A bit too jangly for my taste when it comes to rhythm playing

Who is this guitar for?

If you’re an electric guitarist that wants a full-sounding acoustic to add to your collection, look no further than the Ovation Celebrity Plus Super Shallow. 

Check Price on:


Best Budget – Ovation Elite Celebrity 

Although Ovation has a “budget” line of guitars called Applause by Ovation, I skipped those. I wanted to focus on a real Ovation that is budget-friendly. 

The Ovation Elite Celebrity is the guitar that will save you some change without leaving you high and dry when it comes to performance and tone. 

Plus, it has the gorgeous Ovation signature look that can’t be ignored or copied. 

Construction/Appearance

At first glance, this guitar appears to be the same as the Ovation Celebrity Elite Plus CE44P-FKOA model mentioned earlier. However, it does have some differences as far as construction is concerned.

First, it sports a solid Sitka Spruce top instead of layered Koa.

The back is, of course, Lyrachord® and forms a mid-depth bowl. The top is also adorned with Ovation’s signature multi-soundhole design for that unmistakable look. 

A nato neck, ovangkol fingerboard, and ABS inlays all work together to produce what I like to call the “classic” Ovation look. 

Playability/Sound

Hear how this guitar sounds:

No surprise here…This guitar sounds great! 

The solid Sitka spruce top really makes a difference in terms of resonance. It has a more pronounced bass response when played unplugged, and it is definitely a lead player’s dream. 

The sound is much richer and not as thin sounding as some other Ovation models, and this is most likely due to the incredible top.

An Ovation Slimline pickup and OP-4BT preamp add electric capabilities and full tone management to this beauty. Whether you use it on stage, in the studio, or in your bedroom, the Ovation Elite Celebrity is sure to impress you. 

Pros:

  • Priced affordably especially for the quality
  • Onboard electronics and tuner allow for incredible flexibility
  • Great looks that let people know you’re playing a classic!

Cons:

  • Rounded back is a little awkward to play standing up

Who is this guitar for?

If you want an amazing acoustic electric but arent’ quite ready to drop a ton of cash, then the Ovation Elite Celebrity is the guitar to consider.

Check Price on:


Best Beginner Ovation – Ovation Celebrity Standard

As I mentioned before, the Applause line of Ovation guitars is their “entry-level” line. However, I have found that for just a few more dollars, beginners can get in on the big-time action. 

The Ovation Celebrity Standard is an excellent choice for beginners. It has all of the same features as the other Ovations with a price tag that won’t scare a budding guitarist. 

Construction/Appearance

It is important that beginning guitarists look for an instrument that is well-built because – let’s face it – they can get knocked around quite a bit. 

The Ovation Celebrity Standard is built to handle abuse with a beautiful but durable solid Sitka spruce top and a Lyrachord® mid-depth rounded back. A mahogany neck and ovangkol fingerboard make up the upper end of the guitar.

This center-soundhole masterpiece is lightly adorned with ABS inlays and binding, giving it a classic look that is far from being understated. 

Playability/Sound

Hear how this guitar sounds:

You’re not losing much when it comes to sound and playability by choosing this model. In fact, beginners will be delighted by the fact that this is a professional-grade guitar that is also accommodating to their needs. 

It is equipped with the OP-4CT preamp and CP-100 pickup system with a built-in tuner. There’s no need to carry around an extra tuner, and the pickup and preamp combination give beginners plenty of growing room should they ever decide to plug in. 

As expected, the neck has an almost electric guitar feel to it and is quite effortless to play. It accommodates smaller hands very well due to the comfortable neck radius. (10”)

Perhaps one of the greatest things about the Ovation Celebrity Standard is the unplugged tonal qualities.

It gives beginners a rich and vibrant tone thanks to the solid Sitka spruce top. There is plenty of single-note articulation when learning leads or arpeggios, and full-force stums are well balanced and rich. 

Getting the Ovation Celebrity Standard as a first guitar is almost like cheating the system. It is truly an instrument that a beginner can really grow with. 

Pros:

  • Comfortable neck profile allows for easy notation for all hand sizes
  • Onboard tuner eliminates the need to carry around an extra accessory
  • Unplugged sound is clear and well-balanced
  • Beginners can grow with this guitar without growing out of it

Cons:

  • Shallower body style may be better for some players instead of the mid-depth

Who is this guitar for?

If you’re a beginner who wants a guitar that you will be able to use as you perfect your skills, then the Ovation Celebrity Standard is a solid choice. 

Check Price on:


Verdict

As you can tell from my reviews, I really enjoy playing Ovation guitars. I think that their approach to innovative technologies is incredibly interesting and very effective. 

So let’s break down our list:

  1. First, the best overall Ovation is the Ovation Adamas MD80. It is a uniquely designed guitar with all of the sound, performance, and features that a professional musician could ever want. 
  2. The Ovation Celebrity Elite Plus CE44P-FKOA lights up the stage and gets you all of the attention you desire by being the top pick for live performances. Who doesn’t like a beautiful guitar, after all?
  3. The Ovation Celebrity Plus Super Shallow seems to have been designed specifically for electric players who want an acoustic-electric that leans more to the electric side of things as far as playability and overall feel. 
  4. The clear winner of the best budget-friendly Ovation is the Ovation Elite Celebrity. It provides players with the classic, unforgettable look that Ovation is famous for without causing a financial crisis. 
  5. Finally, beginners will absolutely flourish if they start off on an Ovation Celebrity Standard. Why get a “starter” guitar when you can have the real deal for just a few more bucks?

My advice: Click the links and buy the one that suits your needs. You will be so glad that you did that you will send me thank you gifts in the mail. 

Seriously…they’re that impressive. 


Buyer’s Guide – FAQ

What should I look for when buying an Ovation guitar?

Look for features that will actually appeal to you and that you will actually use.

If you never plan on plugging in, I would suggest looking at another brand. These guitars were made to be plugged in.

Otherwise, pick what suits your needs. All of my choices were hand-picked and rigorously tested to suit the needs of players of all skill levels. 

Are Ovation guitars good?

Yes, they are some of the best acoustic-electric guitars on the market today, and have been for quite some time. Their extensive lineup provides guitarists of all experience levels to find the perfect guitar. 

Do Ovation guitars hold their value?

According to the used marketplace prices, Ovations seem to hold their value quite well. Some even grow in value over time. It is safe to say that Ovations will continue to hold their value in the future as well despite their extensive lineup of models. Of course, used value will depend upon which Ovation guitar you have, its condition, etc. But you will definitely have a worthy investment. 

Are Ovation guitars better than Taylor or Martin?

That is a tough comparison. Ovation guitars are a completely different design than more traditional guitars like Taylor or Martin.

Their innovative and technologically-advanced designs make them instruments that were designed to be plugged in to really get the full effect of their capabilities. I would equate the quality, tone, craftsmanship, and versatility to that of the top Taylor or Martin models.

This is, of course, depending on what style of music you plan on playing. They all have their place in the guitar world.

Does Ovation make electric guitars?

Not anymore, although they did in the ‘70s and ‘80s. These are quite rare and expensive on the used market. Instead, Ovation concentrated their efforts on producing high-quality acoustic-electric guitars using their technological capabilities. 

Are Ovation guitars easy to play?

They are incredibly easy to play. In fact, I have not found a model in any price range that plays badly.

They have the feel of an electric while somehow maintaining the tone of an acoustic. They blend the best of both worlds, and I would venture to say that they are some of the easiest to play when it comes to acoustic-electric guitars. 

Do Ovation guitars only come with a round back?

At this time, yes. That has become their signature over the years. 

Conclusion

You probably already noticed it…Ovation guitars are my top choices for easy playability and playing plugged in. And they are really something unique. Great instruments.

I hope that this guide helped you to choose the best option for you. I wish you all the best and keep rocking!

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