The Ovation Guitar Company, a holding of Kaman Music Corporation, which itself is owned by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, is a guitar manufacturing company based in New Hartford, Connecticut. Ovation primarily manufactures steel-string acoustic guitars and nylon-string acoustic guitars, often with pickups for electric amplification.
Ovation guitar design reflects its founder's engineering training and development of Kaman helicopters. Ovation guitars replace the instrument's conventional back and sides with composite synthetic bowls. Kaman felt there were structural weaknesses in the orthogonal joining of the sides, and that a composite material could provide a smooth body. Ovation claims the parabolic bowls dramatically reduce feedback, allowing greater amplification. Improved synthetics techniques from helicopter engineering control vibrations in the bowl. Ovation developed a thin neck, striving for the feel of an electric-guitar's neck, but with additional strength from layers of mahogany and maple reinforced by a steel rod in an aluminum channel. The composite materials and thin necks reduced weight.
For its tops (soundboards), Ovation uses sitka spruce, a wood that Kaman engineers used in helicopter blades. In the 1970s, Ovation developed thinner soundboards with carbon-based composites laminating a thin layer of birch in its Adamas model. The Adamas model dissipated the sound-hole of the traditional soundboard among 22 small sound-holes in the upper chamber of the guitar, which Ovation says yields greater volume and further reduces feedback during amplification. The Adamas design strengthens the soundboard, reducing the traditional design's bracing and hence weight. In the 1980s, Ovation introduced shallow-bowl guitars to appeal to electric guitarists.
Later, on-board electronics let guitarists move about the stage rather than stay in front of a microphone. On-board electronic tuning, availability, uniformity, and frugal costs facilitated performances by guitar ensembles like Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft students. Ovation has also produced solid-body electric guitars and active basses.