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Ovation 2006 Collector’s 2006-FKOA

Summary: One of Ovation’s popular collector’s series, the 2006-FKOA sports a solid Koa top over a deep contour body. Unlike other Ovations that can have bright, “tinny” tone, this guitar has a much deeper voice, but has that signature Ovation projection.

Pros: VIP (Virtual Image Processing) pre-amp with 5 different microphone images is the bomb! The Koa top is absolutely beautiful and adds so much warmth to the natural tone of the guitar.

Cons: Using an image is an absolute must for plugging in. The raw preamp sounds pretty bad.

Price: $1000 – $1500 (if you can find one for sale)

Features:

  • Deep contour body
  • Solid figured koa top
  • LX scalloped bracing
  • 25 3/4″ scale length
  • Deluxe grade ebony fretboard
  • Ebony bridge
  • Inlaid flame maple epaulet
  • Tortoise shell-like bracing on the body

Tone Bone Rating: 4.75 ~ What a fantastic guitar! I’m borrowing this guitar from a friend for my recording sessions. It has an absolutely killer tone! I don’t like the raw pre-amp tone (as you’ll see below), but the various microphone images completely compensate for that.

Well, it’s back to the studio again, but this time instead of my “man cave” home studio, I’m in a real studio. I borrowed this guitar from a buddy of mine who’s also playing in the sessions. He’s playing his Collings Dreadnought which has a completely different sound, so I figured that this would be a good contrast and I asked him bring to the Ovation along to the sessions. He’s letting me borrow it until we’re done with the project, so I’m going to have lots of time with this guitar.

We’re mostly recording the natural tone of the guitar with a couple different mics, but we’re also plugging in for an even richer sound. Thank heaven this guitar has the VIP pre-amp system because I’d be trashing the plugged in track. The sound that it produces is the classic twangy, honky, lifeless sound that you’d expect out of a cheap pickup system. My Yamaha APX900’s plugged in tone beats this guitar hands-down! Well, that is a testament to how good Yamaha pickup technology is… But I have to say that with the VIP system, Ovation did real good.

Fit and Finish

Talk about an easy guitar to play! Well, I’ve played a couple of Ovations over the years, and I’ve always loved the necks on Ovations. They’re immediately comfortable to me, and I felt right at home playing this guitar. My previous guitar before my Yamaha APX900, was an Ovation thin-body, and the neck on that was very similar to this one, though if memory serves, the 2006-FKOA’s neck is just a tad beefier, but I like that because it’s like my Les Paul R8, so I have a tactile cue to work with.

This is also a gorgeous guitar. I love the figured Koa top, and the flame maple epaulet adds a nice touch to the overall appearance of the guitar. The deep contour body is actually quite comfortable. I was a bit concerned that it might be a bit wide (especially with my extra girth around the middle), but it works even with a big boy like me. I also gigged with it today, and it was absolutely comfortable.

As expected, the build quality is superb. I haven’t played or evaluated an Ovation guitar that wasn’t rock-solid in build quality. There are no uneven seems, no extra lacquer bumps. It’s clean and tight, and that’s always a good thing. 🙂

How It Sounds

The VIP-5 sports 5 different mic images. As Ovation explains it:

…the VIP-5 preamp replicates the sound of high-end microphones used in professional recording studios. Using spectrographic analysis, the VIP-5 compares a guitar’s saddle pickup output to stored audio “images” of a guitar recorded with a studio condenser microphone. The pickup signal is then processed using approximately 1,000 filters and shaped to match the recorded sound image…

The question you might have is “But does it work?” I can emphatically say yes; and it works quite well. Compared to the raw pre-amp with no filtering (which you get by turning down the Image mix all the way), it’s like night and day, and the tone sounds like a guitar being mic’d. Ovation doesn’t specify which high-end studio condenser mics they modeled, but it doesn’t matter. You pick the one you like and go with it.

I’ve got some sample clips to share with you. All of the clips are with the guitar plugged directly into my pre-amp going into my DAW. I’ve got all filtering and compression and EQ turned off in Logic, so what you’ll be hearing is the direct sound. I recorded the individual images with the image mix cranked all the way up.

Reference Tone (raw, image mix turned all the way off)

Image Setting 1

Image Setting 2

Image Setting 3

Image Setting 4

Image Setting 5

The images completely transform the plugged in tone. The reference track was quacky and honky. Blech! But with the images, it’s a completely different animal. I love it! I used Image Settings 3 and 4 in my sessions this weekend. They seemed to fit well with the songs I was recording. And I think that that is the point of the images, and that is to choose an image that works with your rig. I’m going to gig with this in my solo acoustic gig. Who knows what will work with my SA-220 SoloAmp? I’ll just have to find out…

I also recorded a couple of clips with the guitar miked as well to give you an idea of the natural sound the guitar makes:

Comparison Clip to Clips Above

The mic was placed about a foot away from the guitar to allow its tones to develop.

Fingerstyle Clip

This is definitely where this guitar absolutely shines. The natural brightness of the Ovation is offset by the deep contour body which produces a gorgeous scooped tone that really comes out when playing fingerstyle.

Overall Impression

I’m thoroughly impressed with this guitar. Thought I was done with Ovations, but this is one that I have to have eventually. They’re pretty rare, but from what I can tell, people have been selling them for pretty affordable prices; far less than the original $3k+ street price.

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