Other Guitars

Vintage Ovation Thunderhead


Has anybody ever played or owned one of these. I'd like to know if they're decent guitars, but can't find any around me. What info do you have on these? The pickups look maybe like Dearmonds?


I have a '68 Thunderhead. It's a really cool piece, especially if you're into the whole late '60s/early '70s thing. This was the top of the line of Ovation's "Electric Storm Series", a little more deluxe version of their standard Tornado. The most striking feature is the odd neck position with seven frets over the body. It gives the guitar a real compact appearance. The bridge, tremolo and machines are from Schaller. The pickups are in fact DeArmonds, complete with jack plugs on the wiring harness. I believe Kaman imported the bodies from Höfner, but the bolt-on neck is pure Connecticut-built Ovation. It's a moderately light weight guitar and balances nicely in the lap or on a strap. The controls are a little odd. There is a tone for each pickup and a master volume. The upper knob is a pickup balance control. The switch on the upper bout is some sort of phase switch. I have yet to figure it completely out, so usually play it in the center position. Several things to know on these guitars. First, the Schaller vibrato really needs a stronger spring. I actually have a smaller spring inside the original one which helps it stay in tune without adding much more tension. Also, the neck doesn't feel as rigid as a Gretsch neck, but it does have a truss rod. It feels a little like an old Apollo guitar, but not in a bad way. Other than missing the clip-on bridge saddle cover, the one you've pictured looks to be in the same great condition as mine. My Thunderhead has it's original hardshell case. These have a fuzzy yellow interior, black exterior. They're built a little lighter than Ess & Ess cases, but do a nice job protecting the guitar. I bought mine from the original owner, who gave me the original finance receipt from June 1969. It's currently at my folks' house, so I'll try to get a pic of it soon. If you can buy the guitar right, I'd get it.


I can't pick up my Thunderhead without breaking into "Wichita Lineman"!


Was Ovation making guitars in the late 60s.. I remember them as a 70s thing...but they made some weird electrics, like the Preacher, etc.


A lot of folks remember their '70s offerings like the Preacher, Breadwinner, UKII and Magnum bass, but they did offer some cool stuff in the '60s starting with the Ovation roundback Balladeer. I first fell in love with Ovations as a young guitar student in 1968. The Wapping, Connecticut guitar shop my brother and I took lessons from was an early Ovation dealer. Kaman came up with the Electric Storm Series to tap into the hollowbody electric market which was still trending into the late '60s. It was a pretty cool line featuring the top line Thunderhead, base model Tornado, budget model Eclipse, 12-string Hurricane and Typhoon bass (originally called the "Williwaw"). The Thunderhead and Tornado both came in several different finishes with or without Schaller vibrato. If you've ever watched "The Partridge Family", you'll remember "Guitars By Ovation" on the end credits. Danny Bonaduce fake-fingered a Typhoon bass while David Cassidy slung a number of cool roundbacks, Tornados and later a cool Breadwinner solidbody .


One of these is for sale at the local GC. I want to check it out. Only around $550.00.


Is this a semi hollow or a fully hollow guitar? It reminds me of a Casino.


$550 is a great price for one of these in nice condition. In this era, Kaman had a little problem with their finishes and a lot of these I've seen have some lacquer checking, some with major finish splits. The Storms were all heavily-braced hollowbodies, which were contracted from Höfner in West Germany. Btw, I'm really hot to find one of the 12 string Ovation Hurricanes. Think I'll break out some Bobby Goldsboro and Glen Campbell!


The local one is a Tornado I've discovered.


The only real difference between the Thunderhead and Tornado is the Thunderhead had gold parts, deluxe Schaller machine heads, and matching color neck. The Tornado's parts were chrome with Klusons and blonde-finished neck. Both were available with either a Schaller vibrato or trapeze tailpiece. One other thing on Electric Storm Series guitars, the later year models (about '72) the necks were joined to the body farther back, with less fingerboard over the body.


I'm a big fan of Ovation electrics, but not so much their acoustics or acoustic electrics...



I always loved the roundback design. My first good acoustic was a Balladeer. I currently have an Elite cutaway electric and use of my brother's 12-string Pacemaker. I used to sell Ovations, so I'm a little partial to them.


I was reading a thing online about the Storms saying Framus from West Germany made the bodies rather than Höfner. The original Typhoon Bass (Williwaw) actually had the same elongated cutaway shape of several Höfner guitars and basses. The Thunderhead/Tornado/Hurricane/Eclipse all had spruce-topped maple bodies with what Ovation called their "Replaceable Neck" (in other words, "Bolt-on"). Also, the Eclipse was their entry level Storm, but was actually a Thunderhead or Tornado whose finish was rejected by quality control. These bodies were painted with the Lyracord bowl's "Bowl Paint" to cover them up. The DeArmond pickups they used in the Eclipse were actually a little hotter than the Thunderhead's.


Here's my '68 K1460 Thunderhead.


I just had to add my newest Ovation to this thread...a 1968 Hurricane 12-string!


I can't pick up my Thunderhead without breaking into "Wichita Lineman"!

– duojet55

Does it come with a 55 gallon drum of hairspray?


Does it come with a 55 gallon drum of hairspray?

– Parabar

do not make me come over there and clip your wig!!


I'm a big fan of Ovation electrics, but not so much their acoustics or acoustic electrics...


– indianation65

If you get the chance, play a mid '90's Folklore and/or Country Artist. These are a sensational pair of guitars! They're both the second generation of this model but much improved over the first gen, electronics among the upgrades. The first gen was called the Josh White model. It didn't have a cutaway and the neck joined the body at the 12th, not 14th fret, non-amplified. The headstock is slotted like its nylon-string sister, the Country Artist.

Both the second gen have the cutaway, neck with ebony fretboard joined at the 14th fret and shares the first gen's 1.875" wide neck (at the nut). The top is choice, close grain spruce and the guitar is a medium bowl with slotted headstock. As both models were designed specifically for fingerstyle players, the fretboard is, IIRC a 15 radius.

The only visible difference between the pair strings aside, is the shape of the bridge base. The folklore has an excellent acoustic tone and to my ears, not that somewhat harsh tone many models exhibit, that frequently needs amplifying to clean up.


do not make me come over there and clip your wig!!


Ain't no wigs here, yo. What hair I got, I done grew myself!

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