Ovation are relative newcomers to the world of guitars, only launching their range at the 1967 NAMM show in Chicago. Ovation started as an off-shoot of founder Charles Kamen's work in the aviation field, studying vibration and resonances in helicopter blades. Whilst other respected American manufacturers relied heavily of quality natural products and the artistry of their master luthiers, Ovation came very much from a science and engineering perspective: they used oscillographs to test existing instruments, and came up with the famous Ovation rounded back design, and suggested the use of a synthetic material, Lyrachord, claiming it to be more resonant that any wood.
The following description comes from the publicity for Ovation's NAMM show debut, Chicago 1967:
Ovation Instruments is a Division of Kaman Corporation, a major supplier to the United States government of military helicopters, rescue equipment, electronic components and other aerospace products. There are eight divisions of Kaman, participating in such diverse industries as commercial transportation, nuclear sciences, space medicine, education and social sciences, oceanography and, most recently, recreation.
Production was based in Hartford Connecticut, initially producing acoustic guitars, the first being the Ovation Balladeer, quickly following them with electric semi-acoustics such as the Ovation Thunderhead guitar and Typhoon bass.
The first solid body, the Ovation Breadwinner appeared in 1972, quickly followed by the Deacon. These guitars are easily recognizeable from their unique shape, and although not especially rare, are quickly snapped up by players and vintage guitar collectors alike.
The double cutaway Ovation Preacher was added to the line in 1974, with the single cutaway Viper added in 1977. These new models were also great guitars with their own looks, albeit less 'out-there' than the Breadwinner / Deacon.
Manufacture continued throughout the 1970s, and 80s with parent company Kaman expanding into other areas of musical instrument production (at points owning Hamer and Trace-Elliot). Today Ovation concentrate on their acoustics only.