Glens first signature acoustic came after Charlie Kaman took an Ovation to Glen for him to try out. When Charlie got back with Glen, Glen expressed his liking for the guitar and Charlie asked him..."What would you like to have?" And the first proto, the "Glen Campbell Deluxe Balladeer" was R&D'ed and delivered to Glen. It is evident that Glen had finally found an acoustic he could call his. He performed with it on the Goodtime Hour and took it with him for photo ops. His affection for his Ovation, his growing popularity and the increased audience tuning into the Goodtime Hour every week, began to propel both Glen and Ovation into prominence.
Montage of ads that had the 1st prototype showcased
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Louis Shelton, who was a budding guitar player, left Little Rock in 1958 and moved to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he began a band. He met Glen Campbell, a fellow musician and native Arkansan, while in New Mexico. Later that year, he decided to follow Glen to Los Angeles, California, hoping his friend could help him break into lucrative session playing. However, his hopes for a quick transition into studio work did not materialize. But, with a little time, he became a renown session player...working his way into the Wrecking Crew, as Glen was leaving. Louise ended up playing music for several TV shows, including the Goodtime Hour.
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Around that time, Glen gave his first prototype to Louie, keeping the 2nd one.
Sometime around 2002, Louie settled down in Nashville and decided to downsize his guitar collection. Wayne Reid was fortunate to be able to purchase Glens 1st prototype from Louie. Below are some pictures of the very first Ovation Deluxe Balladeer that Charlie made to Glen's specs. Many thanks to Wayne for sharing these awesome pictures.
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Glens Initials on the 12th Fret are a different font than the 2nd prototype GCDB
Hi, Bluebird, it's unfortunate about Getty Images. I saw your post last night -- the size and resolution of this rare photo were excellent, the photo being one of the best professional photos I have seen from that time period. It really highlighted the '68 Ovation GC Deluxe Balladeer beautifully! Thanks! Dee
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That IS an awesome picture. I too have never seen it before. Thanks for sharing it with us.
FYI, Getty Images is very strict about using their pictures on other websites. They will randomly sue websites that use their pictures, resulting in high fines. Recently, they changed their policy a bit and now allow for a lot of their pictures to be embedded on other websites for free, but then you have to use a specific piece of code to do so. Sadly for this specific picture, the copyrighter owner does not allow embedding. In that case the best option is to simply provide a link to the photo on their own website gettyimages.com.
PS: later I WAS able to see the photo you embedded. I removed the [img] tags just to be safe with Getty. I hope you understand!
Dee, I have no idea where I read or heard this, but the bigger bowl produced a deeper sound and a smaller bowl took a little of the low end out of each string, giving the trebles more "cut" or clarity. The only mention in the "History of Ovation Guitars" is that Glen mentioned to Charlie that he wanted a thinner bowl on his signature model, because it would be "easier on your back". Glen's 2nd signature guitar (Model 1127) bowl was smaller and called the "Artist" bowl, or mid bowl. My contention is supported in a 2003 interview with C.W. Kaman II. Bill states "He (Glen) also wanted more "cut" in the sound so the mid depth bowl was introduced." [ You can read the whole interview here]It makes sense, because Ovation had yet to develop it's preamp (another GC initiated R&D project), that Glen wanted the trebles a little purer when mic'ed on the show. Ovation went on to make even smaller bowls
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that were very popular, as time went on. Ovation owes, imo, their tremendous success to Glen, for many reasons.
Of course in the 80's and 90's, we saw Glen playing large bowl Ovations again...so who knows. For shows, he started using the Ovation Viper (a solid body acoustic) religiously around the turn of the century. The viper is probably an inch and a half in width. Just a final confusing note...Glen stated on one program that his "favorite" acoustic was an 80's model black Custom Legend...which is a deep bowl. Of course, with the advent of the Ovation piezo pickup, you could get any shape on your sound that you desired.
The 1968 Glen Campbell Deluxe Balladeer is seen by many as the pinnacle of Ovations acoustic guitar. This particular model set such a high standard in looks, feel and most importantly the sound, that many would argue that it's never gotten much better than this. The Glen Campbell model was produced in very small numbers (est. 50) and thus makes it one of the most sought after instruments by collectors and musicians alike. The design is very similar to the Deluxe Balladeer, including the ebony fretboard, spruce top, deep shiny bowl and 5 point rosewood bridge. But the Glen Campbell model adds gold Grover hardware, a bound fretboard, Glen Campbell signature truss rod cover, and diamond shaped inlays. The Glen Campbell Deluxe Balladeer was produced through the first part of 69. It was replaced when Glen wanted more "cut" in his guitar, so Ovation started producing a smaller "Artist" bowl and thusly named it the Glen Campbell Artist Balladeer. Sadly, the Glen Campbell Deluxe Balladeer (and it's sister 12-string) closed out a most wonderful era of shiny bowl Ovation guitars.
Glen had two personalized Deluxe Balladeers, it appears. Both of them were prototypes. There were subtle differences. one of the differences was a different font used in the "GC" 12th fret initials and the first proto was missing the 19th fret inlay.
GC 12th fret initials / Thanks to Wayne Reid
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Here is a rare video of Glen playing the second prototype, while Merle Haggard is playing the first.
This is one of Glen's Deluxe Balladeers. It was the first prototype. (courtesy of Wayne Reid)
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Here is a picture of Glen playing that guitar on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour:
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And Ovation used Glen with this guitar for numerous advertising campaigns
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Here is Glen playing it with Stevie Wonder in 69.
In 2011, Prototype #2 suffered a headstock misfortune and was sent to Ovation to be repaired. Here it is, prior to be returning to Glen.
Proto #2 at the Ovation Factory
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Glen still had the 2nd prototype Deluxe Balladeer, when it appeared in the Malibu staircase picture
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Glen's 2nd prototype Deluxe Balladeer is now one of Glen's featured guitars in the Country Music Hall of Fame (thanks Dee)
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Thanks to David Witko for (kind of) allowing me to use the information on the Glen Campbell Deluxe Balladeer, which he has researched on his informative Ovation Gallery website.