As a kid back in the '80s, I was a salesman in
a music store with the unenviable task of having to sell Ovation solidbody
electric guitars. One badass who rocked an Ovation Breadwinner
was the dreamy-eyed teen idol David Cassidy (as well as Todd Rundgren
and Steve Marriott). The Deacon pictured here is really just a Breadwinner
with certain aesthetic upgrades such as neck binding, mother of pearl
diamond inlays, and a glossy finish. Mostly, people wanted to play it because
it was just so frickin’ weird looking, especially when hanging awkwardly
next to the sleek lines of Strats, Les Pauls, and Steinbergers. But inevitably,
when a customer test drove a Deacon, they’d be knocked out by how fantastic
it played and by how great it sounded, while being simultaneously
confounded by the contrary and unwieldy look of this ax-shaped ax.
The Deacon sports a 24-fret mahogany neck with a flat ebony fretboard.
The low action gives a feel reminiscent of a black beauty Les Paul.
This thing is fast! Thanks to the active electronics (powered by two 9-
volt batteries—I know!), the EQ is sweeping and the output is hot. The
clean tones are chimey and Fendery, but with distortion this guitar is
capable of cool Brit-rock tones, like a cross between Brian May and Mick
Ronson. It has a very focused upper midrange, both though my Marshall
and my Boogie. One of the two switches on the face of the guitar is, in
fact, a midrange cut.
Given the wild success of their acoustic-electric offerings, Ovation
clearly knew a thing or two about guitar making. But like Martin and
others since, they learned that just because people love your acoustics,
it doesn’t mean they’ll buy your electrics, and Ovation
stopped production of this guitar by 1982. As is the case
with so many oddballs from the ’60s and ’70s, if they played
well, they will most likely command serious dough today,
and someone recently threw down $3k for a Deacon online.
So, if you can afford it, and you don’t mind if your guitar
looks like Gene Simmons’ bass with a tumor, this just
might be the guitar for you. —Terry Carleton
Check out more of Terry’s killer
collection at bonesandknives.com.