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1984 Custom Balladeer 1612 - practically zero output

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peavey_impact
Posted 2019-11-06 3:23 PM (#550370)
Subject: 1984 Custom Balladeer 1612 - practically zero output


Joined:
November 2005
Posts: 11

Buddy I work with mentioned he had an Ovation but didn't know anything about it - he brought it to me to check out and it turns out its a really nice old Custom Balladeer (SN dates it to 1984, best I can tell).

There is an issue though - when it's plugged in there is basically no output - if you crank an amp to maximum you can hear faint sound come through but nothing remotely usable. Swapping the battery for a new one made no difference.

Any suggestions on what might be the issue? This has the old black box preamp inside with just a single volume knob on the upper shoulder of the guitar, for reference.

I thought I'd take a glance at the electronics myself but I'm not totally sure how to even gain access to the preamp (I'm assuming the volume pot itself holds the preamp in place, perhaps?).

I appreciate any help you guys can give me!
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elginacres
Posted 2019-11-06 8:40 PM (#550381 - in reply to #550370)
Subject: Re: 1984 Custom Balladeer 1612 - practically zero output


Joined:
July 2005
Posts: 1380

Location: Colorado
I know this is simple, likely not it, but first check the cable, then check the 1/4 jack, the cable plug may not be seating exactly crisply - best is to loosen a couple strings, loosen the hex nut on the jack, pull the jack out thru the hole and visually see how the tip and ring sit. Don't use a stereo cable (TRS). Next while strings are loose, the battery may be good - but the cables from it may but nicked or worse - get a light and mirror (dentist's ones are nice) and give that a good visual, and if you have a volt/ohm meter, see what voltage you are getting at the other end of the wires from the battery. The battery cover has sharp metal edges and it would not be the first time the wires got crimped when it was slid back into place. Next would be a technician.
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arumako
Posted 2019-11-07 9:34 AM (#550389 - in reply to #550370)
Subject: RE: 1984 Custom Balladeer 1612 - practically zero output



Joined:
October 2012
Posts: 885

Location: Yokohama, Japan

peavey_impact - 2019-11-06 5:23 AM

I thought I'd take a glance at the electronics myself but I'm not totally sure how to even gain access to the preamp (I'm assuming the volume pot itself holds the preamp in place, perhaps?).


Hi peavey_impact! Yup, the volume pot holds the preamp in place. It's actually pretty easy to dismount and disassembe. I've got an '82 Custom Balladeer rebuilt by Dan Savage with a torrefied Sitka spruce top and braces. Just absolutely love the instrument...anyway, you can dismount your pre-amp by...

Assuming the strings are loose:
1. Cover sound board area with a towel or some protection just in case you drop something on the sound board.
2. Remove battery compartment from inside the sound hole. I'd take the battery out and leave it out while dismounting. If you drop the battery holder with the battery in it, the force can damage the finish or worse.
3. Remove preamp's piezo input jack.
4. Loosen the allen-wrench bolt in the volume knob. Standard is a 5/64" allen-wrench.
5. Remove volume knob.
6. Loosen nut holding volume knob in place. You'll want to put one hand in the sound hole to stabilize the preamp box as it is coming off.
7. Remove the preamp box from the sound hole.

Once the box is out, you should be able to unscrew the cover off of it. The unit is very simple, and here's the schematics from the Ovation Tribute site:

One V diagram

I am definitely no electrician, but I've done some simple pre-amp repairs before. If you can do your own soldering and use a multimeter, you might find the fix to be an easy one. Maybe a burnt out resistor or a problem with the potentiometer. If the pre-amp has been highly utilized, you might need to change all of the electrolytic capacitors. Burnt out resistors or capacitors are pretty easy to spot, and most values are easily replaceable. FET availability might be questionable. For other issues, the multimeter should serve you well.

Sure hope you're able to get the unit back in good order. There is always the more extreme option which is to cut out a new hole for a modern pre-amp and drop a OP Pro Studio or VIP Preamp in there. Good luck!

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peavey_impact
Posted 2019-11-08 2:43 PM (#550406 - in reply to #550370)
Subject: Re: 1984 Custom Balladeer 1612 - practically zero output


Joined:
November 2005
Posts: 11

So I poked around in the guitar and discovered the problem right away - the guy put the damn battery in backwards hahahahah! Guitar works perfectly now.

It could use a bit of a setup though. On my own personal Ovation the saddle comes right out and you can stack or remove shims from under it to adjust the string height, but this guitar has the old school "triangular" type saddle. Is this type of saddle height adjustable in any way? If so, how do I remove it to look underneath? Don't want to just go yanking on it without asking first.
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arumako
Posted 2019-11-09 1:09 AM (#550422 - in reply to #550406)
Subject: Re: 1984 Custom Balladeer 1612 - practically zero output



Joined:
October 2012
Posts: 885

Location: Yokohama, Japan

peavey_impact - 2019-11-08 4:43 AM

So I poked around in the guitar and discovered the problem right away - the guy put the damn battery in backwards hahahahah! Guitar works perfectly now.


LOL! That's funny. Glad you got it worked out without any hassle. The thinline saddle and the OCP-1K both come with the same "shim under saddle" configuration. So your previous experience is definitely applicable. If you're gonna run through a set-up, you might want to get the compensated saddles that Dan sells on his Shapeways website.

The compensated saddles correct the intonation discrepancies inherent in the original Ovation saddles. They're really great and really easy to install. Here's a link to the thread about the compensated saddle, just in case...

http://www.ovationfanclub.com/megabbs/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=47936&posts=2&start=1

Good luck!

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