Saturday, June 28, 2008
1984 Ovation Collector's Series Guitar
Everyone has an opinion about Ovation guitars. Mine has certainly changed over the years. Yes, I've become a guitar snob. However, back in 1985 I fell in love with this guitar and it became the very first "guitar obsession" I ever had. At the time, I lived in the...let's see, how do I say this..."not-my-idea-of-where-to-spend-forver" town of Enid, Oklahoma. I had gone to college there at Phillips University (which has since closed it's hallowed doors) and was spending a year or so finding myself (at the bar, that's where I was). There were a couple of small music stores in Enid and I walked into one of them one day for the first time and up above everything else was a collection of every Ovation Collector's Series guitar up to that point. Ovation began the Collector's Series in 1982 and continues it to this day. However, being 1985, there were only 4 guitars in the series.
I fell in love with the 1984 model, which looked different than any other guitar I had ever seen at that point. I inquired as to how much it was and the owner of the store told me that it wasn't for sale. His intention was to collect 'em all! I just mentioned that if he ever decided to break up the set to let me know and I left my number. I'm not sure why because I had no extra money at the time and couldn't really afford the guitar. I think it was around $1200 but I can't remember for sure. Way out of my league at the time.
I went about my business for a time, my business being bartending, drinking beer, and bartending while drinking beer. One day I got home and there was a message. "This message is for Jaimie Muehlhausen. This is Bob at the guitar store and, if you want that Ovation, it's yours." Evidently the store was not doing well and he needed to sell what he knew he could sell. I couldn't figure out how the hell I was going to pull this off, but I knew I would have to try. At the time I had a Gibson acoustic that was some weird model they only made for a couple of years. It had a plastic, yes plastic, ring around the soundhole and a very aerodynamic looking bridge. It sounded like crap and played poorly (hence the short model life I assume) and I really didn't want to keep it. Problem was, it had been given to me by a former coworker. And, to top it off, I wasn't sure if it was actually mine or if I was supposed to give it back at some point.
On that day, I made the decision that I wasn't supposed to give it back.
I took it in and asked the guy at the shop if he would at all be interested in taking the Gibson in as a trade. I mean, it was a Gibson after all. Had to be worth something. I don't recall how much he gave me for it, but it was a decent price. Somehow, some way, I talked the guy into letting me make payments on the balance. He even let me take it home with me. You can bet I made the payments on time.
I loved this guitar. Round plastic back and all (okay, my new bias just slipped out). It had a pickup in it, and that was first and foremost. I was starting to play some open mic nights and wanted to be able to just plug in. In retrospect, it was very quacky sounding...one of the very first of the piezos that came out. The guitar was really nice looking with a really dark walnut stain and those little leafy looking things around the cluster of soundholes that Glen Campbell made famous singing the Wichita Lineman. It was the super shallow bowl model and was actually pretty comfortable to play. Plastic bowl back and all...oops, I did it again.
I had this guitar for a few years and really did like it at the time. If you happened to read my story about the '74 Telecaster recently you know how this one ends. I'll keep it brief. I moved to California in '87 and a year or so later walked into my first Guitar Center. Up on the wall was an amazing looking Martin D-41 with extra fancy neck inlay. It was the second guitar I became obsessed with and I had to sacrifice my very first obsession to get it. I traded the Ovation, the Telecaster and some cash money to get the Martin. I'm glad I did, but I have to be honest in admitting that every now and then, just out of curiosity, I search eBay for a 1984 Ovation Collector's Series, just to see what they go for and to remind myself of what they look like. I don't really want one, but I guess it's like looking at a photo of yourself from high school...the haircut seemed cool at the time, but you don't really want to go that direction again.