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Replacing Guitar Top On An Ovation


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Hello,

I'm new here and I've seen alot of posts that might help me. I have an older Ovation it was my first guitar. I loaned it to my cousin when he sent it back it was damaged in shipping (this was a few years ago) UPS pretty much screwed me by telling me I could not make a claim on it since my cousin sent it and they told my cousin he could not make a claim since he didn't own it. Anyway I need to replace the top. my main concern is removing the neck. I've seen alot of things about ovation necks on the web but nothing that really gives me a clue on if there will be problems. Lots of things saying extra care and effort needs to take place. Well like what? I don't have to worry about damage to the top since its shot anyway. but I don't want to damage the neck.

Anyway thanks for anyhelp in advance

dmsean

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Hello,

I'm new here and I've seen alot of posts that might help me. I have an older Ovation it was my first guitar. I loaned it to my cousin when he sent it back it was damaged in shipping (this was a few years ago) UPS pretty much screwed me by telling me I could not make a claim on it since my cousin sent it and they told my cousin he could not make a claim since he didn't own it. Anyway I need to replace the top. my main concern is removing the neck. I've seen alot of things about ovation necks on the web but nothing that really gives me a clue on if there will be problems. Lots of things saying extra care and effort needs to take place. Well like what? I don't have to worry about damage to the top since its shot anyway. but I don't want to damage the neck.

Anyway thanks for anyhelp in advance

dmsean

Sounds like a UPS story.

You can probably pursue the claim because they damaged your stuff in Shipment.

They just don't want to honor it.

Re-topping an Ovation...

1. Its not impossible. Don't believe the Internet hype.

2. There are a couple challenges -- but it is doable.

1st thing to remember is that Kaman is a Helicopter company that started building Guitars......

The story goes that they were having a bad year of sales.

Charles Kaman loved Guitarts.

So he pulled his Vibrational Analysis and Structural Engineer guys -- to go

study and understand what makes Guitars work.

This was the birth of Ovation and the Lyrachord bowl.

Now, the important part....

These were Helicopter guys -- not woodworkers or Luthiers.

Helicopter guys hate wood -- Prehistoric stuff with variable properties that change depending on which

way you cut it, the growth of the tree, etc..... Sometimes its heavy and stiff, sometimes its light

and spongy even within the same tree..... You can never tell from 1 piece to another.....

This is why the whole thing was made out of Advanced composites and Aluminum......

that is what Helicopters are made of. It has consistent properties that you can base a design around.

They ended up making many with Spruce tops because people wanted spruce tops.....

but their High End stuff was always made with Composite tops.

........ANYWAY................

You have a couple challenges

1. Epoxy finish -- Conventional thinners and strippers won't touch the stuff.

When you use "Super Ultra Stripper" (The stuff that will dissolve a car tire) -- the finish pops off in little fish scales.

2. Epoxy glues used in construction -- No amount of heat or delicate persuasion will loosen this stuff.

The neck is bolted on, fingerboard glued down to the soundboard.

It is probably epoxied down, heat won't touch it..... but if you are going to ruin the top anyway......

The tough part.....

The soundboard is epoxied onto the bowl with a thick hard rim of epoxy goop...

It reminded me of the JB weld except Way Harder, more brittle, and it will properly bond to wood.

This glue stuff is not commercially available....

Regular glue won't glue to the bowl either, but 2-part Epoxy will.

Several braces are also glued down into this stuff -- and they won't pop out like if they were just tucked into Kerfing.

(Ask me how I know this.....)

Next thing is Bracing -- Because of the stiffness of the bowl and the super duper glues used......

Ovation went through about 2-dozen different bracing schemes. Some were more successful

than others. Most of them weren't X-brace designs -- Unnecessary for structural reasons.....

(They claimed....)

If yours is an "Old" spruce top Ovation -- it probably has a modified Fan brace scheme.

Of course, history tells us that *Sometimes*..... fan braces don't hold up against steel strings long term....

and many of these Ovations are no exception.

You may find..... that with a Re-top.... since you can't get their "Unobtanium Glues"

and you may not be able to exactly duplicate their "Scientific" bracing scheme....

That you may need to go with an X-brace top to keep the top from bellying real bad

or Imploding after about 5-years.

About 15 years ago.... when I was a young, foolish college student....

Before I read on the Internet that it was impossible,

I re-topped an Ovation.

I chiseled out all the JB weld-ish junk and roughed up the glue area real good.

I re-epoxied Basswood strips around the inside as Kerfing.....

but "Standard" kerfing would probably work fine... but it has to be Epoxied to the bowl.

Now, you can just re-top as per "Standard" methods -- as Yellow glue will stick to the

wood kerfing strips just fine.

I made up an X-brace top, glued it on, and off I went.... happily un-aware that it was "Impossible."

Had a real luthier do the Binding, bridge, and finish.

Impossible, right....

It ended up sounding good.... but it did sound different than it originally did.

Good luck.

John

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Besides the epoxy adventures, one of the toughest things about re-topping an Ovation is how to deal with clamping the new top on when when re-gluing it to a rounded back. Best way is to go old-school - wrapping the whole works with a couple of bicycle inner tubes used as big rubber bands (the Cumpiano book shows how to do this) with the back sitting in a flat-bottomed jig.

Cut off the valve stem first. :D

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Wow! Thanks guys I guess I'll get some real "Good" experience out of this. I have what I thought was a "Solid" Spruce top but it turns out to be a plywood Laminate. Should be fun. How often do you get to take a saw to a guitar and not have to worry about damage?

Sean

Edited by dmsean
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  • 2 weeks later...
How often do you get to take a saw to a guitar and not have to worry about damage?

Make sure you save the bracing pattern, so go easy on the deconstruction.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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