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Tom Ewing's Vintage Ovation Adamas I Collection

Nancy Wilson of Heart plays
"Crazy on You", "Silver Wheels" and "Dreamboat Annie"
on a very rare Adamas I "Slot Head"
(same model as the maroon guitar in far right of the collection)
1976 - Burt Sugarman's "The Midnight Special"

The Adamas Guitar

Ovation guitars are rather unique, in that they have a composite, rounded back that is designed to project the sound in ways other guitars can't. Whether they accomplished this goal.... well, it depends upon who you ask. These guitars were designed by Charles Kaman, who was the inventor of a unique helicopter blade design, and was the founder of Kaman Helicopters. Charles Kaman was also an avid guitarist, who spent years developing what he hoped would be the next major leap in guitar technology with his new design. He spent vast numbers of hours in wood shops, composite labs and sound studios in his quest for the perfect guitar. Guitar preference is a very personal thing - One person may love a particular type of guitar, while others may loathe it. That is never more true than with Ovation guitars. You either love them or you hate them. I, frankly, am not a fan of the typical Ovation guitars that cover the walls of every Sam Ash and Guitar Emporium across the world. However, the stars aligned perfectly for Ovation in the mid 1970s when they produced a masterpiece of a guitar that they dubbed "Adamas". This truly was the guitar that Charles Kaman envisioned, and was his crowning achievement. This guitar was one of the most expensive guitars produced at the time, and for good reason. The hand carved wood scrolling on the headstock, the ornate carved bridge, and many other stunning, inovative features made it a very expensive guitar to produce. Even at the price they were charging, the profit margin was so small that they eventually shed many of the features that made it so unique. Ovation still produces a guitar called the Adamas, but it is a mass-produced instrument that bears little resemblance to the masterpiece of the 1970s. Those lucky enough to find one of the very limited run of original hand produced Adamas guitars quickly realize that they have a very special guitar. Five of them are pictured above.

Tom Ewing - Vintage Adamas I, model 1687

Taylor Presentation Series Grand Auditorium Koa
Lenny Loggins Signature Grand Orchestra
The newest additions to the collection

Koa can be a very tricky wood for guitars. One Koa guitar can sound completely dead, and the next can project some of the most beautiful tones you have ever heard. Taylor Guitars probably knows more about producing a quality Koa guitar than anyone else, and has perfected the art with their Presentation Series Grand Auditorium Koa. The wood used in these guitars comes only from Hawaii (as does all Koa wood), and is harvested from the seasoned stumps of old growth Koa forests that have previously been cleared - and only from elevations greater than 5000 ft. That certainly narrows down the available wood to a very limited amount. And of that limited supply, the chance of finding useable wood of the correct grain, with no imperfections or worm holes, is extremely rare. When the correct combination is found, it is considered "Master Grade" Koa, and is used in only the top of the line Taylor Koa guitars such as the one pictured above. Take a look at the video below for the rest of the story - it is fascinating how these guitars are made.