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Ovation Legend 1777LX Guitar

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Ovation guitars are unquestionably an acquired taste – they’re based on somewhat more technology than may seem appropriate for an instrument with several hundred years of tradition behind it. The conventional wooden back of a guitar has been replaced with a polycarbonate bowl, perhaps reminiscent of a still more traditional instrument, a lute.

pictureCurrent Ovation guitars include integral pickups which drive both a preamp connected to an output jack, and a built-in electronic tuner. Serious traditionalists will no doubt think the latter to be a tool of unclean spirits, but it’s hard to imagine a guitar without one shortly after you uncrate one of these puppies for the first time.

It’s also probably worth noting that a great many musicians who think they’ve played an Ovation guitar really haven’t. Ovation’s instruments come in a number of flavors. The axes built at Ovation’s workshop in Connecticut, such as the one being reviewed here, are superb instruments with truly excellent workmanship, and awesome sound. They do, however, have prices to match.

Low-end Ovations, made in the far East, are typically a lot easier to find than their American-made cousins – probably because they’re a good deal cheaper. At present, they’re sold under the name Ovation Celebrity. These aren’t guitars to make your fingers dance upon strings of ethereal music – they’re more suited to pounding your fists upon beer cans while a girl in a plastic cowboy hat belts out C&W and attempts to dodge airborne vegetables.

The American-made Ovation Legend 1777LX is a superb guitar, with all of Ovation’s best technology and a really nice case. It includes an updated version of Ovation’s original pickup technology, which sounds remarkably like a microphone. The twangy, nasal sound of conventional piezoelectric pickups is agreeably absent.

The Legend 1777LX fairly oozes with craftsmanship. It has a bound ebony fret board with inlaid pearl markers, an inlaid pearl tone hole rosette and a sculpted bridge. The spruce top is expertly thinned – the top on mine was absolutely flawless.

The internal top bracing of the Legend 1777LX gives it a dark, balanced sound. This is the aspect of Ovation guitars that has persuaded me to own quite a few of them. They sound substantial and complex, and they project their sound much more effectively than traditional all-wood instruments.

The Legend 1777LX also addresses one of the things that has taken some getting used to in my older Ovation guitars. The polycarbonate body shells in older Ovations weighed quite a bit, and made them feel like they wanted to escape while being played, and go for a few drinks. The current generation of Ovation guitars uses body shells made of much lighter polycarbonate. They weigh substantially less than their predecessors, affording them a feel and balance pretty much identical to that of a traditional wood guitar.

The only catch in my Legend 1777LX was that it arrived badly in need of setting up. Its neck hadn’t been adjusted, and its action was high enough to make playing it something of a challenge. This wasn’t a serious issue – a local guitar shop gave it a setup for forty dollars – but I’d have enjoyed seeing it playable right out of the box.

Honorable mention for this one goes to Woodwind and Brasswind, an on-line musical instrument retailer in South Bend, Indiana. I shan’t speculate upon why a shop that concerns itself largely with saxophones and trumpets had the best price for this guitar. They also shipped it for free.

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