|The Ovation Fan Club|
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| Bowl Backs with Bill the Boss - by Alex Pepiak circa 1994|
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Location: The Great Pacific Northwest
Bowl Backs with Bill the Boss
After my Ovation factory tour, the editors of Guitar Digest put their creative minds together and decided to dedicate an issue to the Ovation guitar. When they informed me of their intentions, I thought that an interview with Bill Kaman would be interesting. He guided the company into its mega status.
Alexander M. Pepiak (AMP): Where do you feel Ovations fit in a world of Martins, Guilds, Gibsons, and those types of guitars?
AMP: In what respect?
AMP: I guess Ovation, at least in my eyes, has been primarily known for their amplified acoustic sound. I guess this has put you ahead of strictly acoustic guitar makers.
AMP: I know in the beginning, what I tend to call the Partridge Family era of Ovation, when it seems like there was the Ovation name on everything, and you guys made solid bodies, and there was the Ovation name on microphones...
AMP: Well, now it seems that everything is under the Kaman umbrella, the Hamers, the Trace Elliotts, all the things C. Bruno distributes, was that a conscious effort to go with makers that were already established? Or did that just sort of happen haphazardly?
AMP: I just completed reading the history of Ovation and in there your father is represented as more or less of a taskmaster, as far as you were concerned in your involvement with the company How much of that is fact or how much of that is fiction?
AMP: For example, there's a picture of you, I believe sanding necks and that sort of thing...
AMP: So, then, basically it's a correct representation...
AMP: I guess to ask a rather bold question... how would you address someone that said, "Well, his father started the company, and he was going to get it anyway?"
AMP: I understand that you yourself have a rather large guitar collection?
AMP: How many?
AMP: I understand that you and I also share an affinity for Travis Beans.
AMP: How many of those do you have?
AMP: I'm impressed. What draws you to the Travis Bean guitar?
AMP: Only one. For my day gig, I'm only a lowly teacher. (Both laugh.)
AMP: Your personal collection: Does it focus mostly on electrics or acoustics?
AMP: Would you consider yourself mainly an electric player or an acoustic player?
AMP: How do you feel about the Ovation Breadwinners and Deacons not taking off with the general public?
AMP: Could you give me an idea of a guitar that you would like to have that you don't have in your collection?
AMP: Yeah, that's about when I got mine--actually, I got mine about 10 years ago...it came in with a trade, and I looked at it and said "Aluminum neck--Sacrilege!" So it stayed in the case. Then, I was playing with a bunch of people, and they didn't like the sound of the Strat I was using, so I was taking a different guitar, every rehearsal. The day I brought the Travis Bean, plugged it in, hit a few chords, they said," That's it, that's the guitar you've gotta play." And that's the guitar I've been playing for ten years. My main guitar, anyway.
AMP: What role do you feel that Ovations will have in the collector's market, now that they're approaching 30 years old or better?
AMP: When I was at the factory, they showed me the Mandocello, which I wasn't aware that you were building...and they showed me the mandolin, and also a Koa uke, and Kim told me that it's's going to go into production...Any future plans on production?
AMP: I guess they remembered the Maccaferri...
AMP: Obviously, you're aware of the Dobro made by your R and D department. I played that when I was in the factory, and I really loved that guitar, and I said to myself, this thing has to be one of the greatest guitars I ever played. I can't imagine why you guys wouldn't put something like that into production. Not a demand...?
AMP: There's enough nutcases like me that would buy it.
AMP: If there was one thing I wanted to take out of the factory that day, it was that.
AMP: I played both. I just thought whoa, the resonator, it rings, and Ovations are kind of on the trebly side to begin with, and it's like man, this thing is just cool...and you can plug it in? Whoa.
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