The story of Ovation guitars—and the groundbreaking technology behind them—begins with Charles H. Kaman, an aeronautical engineer known for his pioneering work in helicopter and aerospace design.
In 1945, Charles Kaman founded Kaman Aircraft, and in 1947 his company developed a radical helicopter that used inter-meshing rotors and Kaman's patented servo-flap control. Through intense research and development, Kaman’s engineers made discoveries about the physics of vibration and acoustics—critical factors in the design and fabrication of helicopter rotor blades and other components exposed to high vibrational stress. After achieving many aviation firsts and setting world records with his helicopters, Charles Kaman—himself a dedicated guitar enthusiast—decided his aerospace division should apply its technology and know-how to the centuries-old art of guitar making.
To pursue this goal, Kaman founded Ovation Instruments, and in 1965 the engineers and luthiers began their quest to determine whether an acoustic guitar could be sonically improved by modifying its shape and construction. The R&D team spent months building and testing prototype instruments, and by mid-1966, they had the answers they sought. Their research conclusively proved that a semi-parabolic shape yielded the most efficient and responsive guitar body.
Once the engineers had settled on the body design, they turned their attention to developing a substance that could be molded into this bowl-like shape. Using their knowledge of high-tech aerospace composites, they developed Lyrachord, a patented material comprising interwoven layers of glass filament and bonding resin. The lab team also discovered how to tune Lyrachord at the molecular level so it would resonate musically.
The first Ovation guitar made its debut in November 1966. Its Lyrachord body gave the instrument unprecedented projection and ringing sustain. Based on this initial success, Ovation developed an entire line of roundback models to provide guitarists with the world's finest acoustic/electric instruments.
Today, the skilled luthiers and designers continue to make beautiful, high-performance roundback guitars with painstaking attention to detail—the way they have for more than almost half a century, with the spirit of New England craftsmanship and restless American innovation embodied in every instrument they build.