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Bowl-back electros - have they had their day?


Big_Stu
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I bought my bowl back in a sale about 5 years ago. I wish I'd shopped around more & found the one with the lower profile bowl. I like the sound in either mode, and it's a lovely neck but that bowl gets a bit wearisome after a while, either stood OR sitting; I was agreed with by my optician last week too.

I think either Jeff Lynne or Ivan Drever in his Wolfstone (in EAEAEE!!!) days were the first I saw playing them, but that was a good few years ago.

Are there still any fans of these around?

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May sound a bit silly but I like the fact that these guitars don't try too hard to be an acoustic guitar and, at least the early ones, have a distinctive sound of their own, unlike the modern breed of electro's which chase the holy grail of acoustic tone and never quite get there.

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I wouldn't be surprised if we were to see a bit of a resurgence of them over the next few years actually, in view of 'good'/legally-sourced tonewoods becoming more scarce; as Myke says, they don't (usually) pretend to sound like a real acoustic, the shallower body is actually an advantage for an amplified electro in terms of reducing feedback and with leaps forward in transducer and emulator technology can actually get a lot closer to the natural sound we often want than they've ever been able to before.

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I think they are a biy like Yamaha pianos; they have a sound of their own. They outstripped the competition in their day but have been superceded by more 'authentic' sounding instruments. I have an Adamus six string that sounds great and I have no trouble with its stability )I play acoustics siting down and without a strap). Horses for courses, I guess.

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44fM6nQlbik&feature=related"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44fM6nQlbik&feature=related[/url]

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_Y7VJGFrFo"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_Y7VJGFrFo[/url]

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They made acoustic guitar useful for rock bands, although a few people picked up on the alternative looks along the way. They are still excellent stage instruments provided the bowl is shaped right (early ovations were terrible at rolling away) I have a Melody bowlback that I bought for £25 on ebay, and it sounds ever so similar to an early 80s Ovation.

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[quote name='Bilbo' timestamp='1351626218' post='1853491'][media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_Y7VJGFrFo[/media][/quote]

Thanks for that - it was amazing, gave me a few playing ideas to investigate - & also some posture to improve on I think.

This tune especially brings back many happy memories of many Wolfstone gigs; one of the highlights of 24 years of my Edinburgh living - though I don't think Ivan is using a bowl-back on this one, or if he is it's shallower one - it's the one I remember first noticing one being used the year before.
[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIwuwGj3cro&feature=related[/media]

..........also some classic 90's mullets from hell. :)

Edited by Big_Stu
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Ah, Wolfstone, classic band :)

I have a cheap bowl back that I bought at a trade fair a couple of years back (the exhibiters were selling off al their stock as they didn't plan on shipping it back to China). It's OK and I use it as my camping/festival guitar where I don't want to risk my decent acoustic.

Steve

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I've seen a cheap-ish copy of one - possibly Vintage - which is the low profile one. It's a record shop that's diversified into guitars so I don't think I'd get much of an audition opportunity. Once bitten twice shy now........... and my other half counting the cases & gig-bags (not quite but it feels like it :) ) Though I have just offloaded my SG to a collector so I'm due one.

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  • 1 month later...

The first electro-acoustic I bought was a second hand Ovation Elite 2078LX. Sounded lovely plugged in, but the natural acoustic tone was very wimpy. Just didn't have any balls or warmth when finger picked. The first pro session I did with it was a nightmare. The producer wanted to mic it up and we could not get a decent tone from it. We ended up using an EKO that belonged to the studio. I felt a bit embarrassed. Not long afterwards I traded it in for a Takamine Sante Fe which sounded great plugged or unplugged. But, the main reason why I got shot of it wash because it was a pain the arse to play standing up. I just couldn't get intona comfortable playing position with it and my wrist (frettng hand) was ruined after each gig. I will never go back to playing a bowl backed guitar.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have a Westfield bowlback worth about two bob that I got off Gumtree.
It was no more than 'all right' when I first got it.

Then I had a bit of a fiddle with the truss rod and bridge and now everyone who plays it comments on just how easy it is to play.

I do really like it now. It's a cracking guitar.

When I'm slouched on the sofa, it works just fine.

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  • 1 month later...

Well , I like em , so much so I have two of them , used to be three , but I sold the Adamas .
The steel string is a Balladeer that I bought 30 years ago when I was an poor student , I was in a guitar shop and this guy brings in the Balladeer to try and trade against a shiney new guitar . The assistant behind the counter was a real dick , and offered very little for it , so I got chatting to him and offered all my ready cash for the guitar , and its been with me ever since .
I thought I would go one better and get an Adamas , but to me the feel + sound of the Balladeer was better .
I bought the Classical guitar version about 5 years ago for £200, it has a gouge in the soundboard from some ones over zealous finger nails , but the playability and depth is fantastic for a 200 quid guitar , plus it has an on-board stereo amp .
Other Acoustics owned ( and subsequently sold ) are a Gibson J185 , Brook Creedy , Larrivee OM , Yamaha acoustic , Bernabe Classical .

If you avoid the cheap Applause range , I think the proper old Ovations are great guitars for the money .

Edited by martin8708
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  • 3 weeks later...

[quote name='Big_Stu' timestamp='1361305920' post='1984361']


Is that as in "Applause" Ovations or not the most expensive of actual Ovations? The action on mine is fine, it's just "not got much about it" acoustically.
[/quote]

No, I mean £700 - £1000 + Ovations. The five I tried were poor. I was pissed off about that, I had major GAS and money :) But not enough for a USA model.

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The action on my Balladeer is comparible to my Strat , you can pick up old Balladeer's and Legends for not much money on 'bay .
Given that these guitars are probably 30 years plus old , the Spruce tops will be nicely " seasoned " giving a lovely open sound .
Good enough for Cat Stevens , Brian May , Ritchie Sambora , Paul Simon and Adrian Legg .

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[quote name='martin8708' timestamp='1361309634' post='1984460']
The action on my Balladeer is comparible to my Strat , you can pick up old Balladeer's and Legends for not much money on 'bay .
Given that these guitars are probably 30 years plus old , the Spruce tops will be nicely " seasoned " giving a lovely open sound .
Good enough for Cat Stevens , Brian May , Ritchie Sambora , Paul Simon and Adrian Legg .
[/quote]
That's what I should have done mate.

A friend of mine who died a couple of years ago gave me his old Japan Epiphone 12 a long time ago. But it needs restoring, bridge lifting off and other stuff that needs doing. But I think I'll take it to Graham Parker and get it sorted, it has a really gorgeous tone.

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