The Ovation 1624 was a “hybrid” classical nylon string guitar, completely crafted around Glen’s vision of the type of nylon guitar he wanted to play. The pickup constructed for Glen, for this guitar, blasted Ovation into the stratosphere of the guitar world.
It first began when Jerry Reed joined the Goodtime Hour. He was playing a Baldwin 801CP nylon, which had a Prismatone pickup that allowed Jerry to amp his classical guitar. The nylon guitar that Glen used at the time was an Ovation, as he was Ovation’s most visible and popular endorser. The problem was, the Ovation had to be mic’ed, because Ovation (as most companies at the time) did not have an acoustic that had a pickup and could be amplified.
Having to mic a guitar, back then, severely limited how that guitar could be played. It typically meant you had to be seated in front of a mic stand with a separate vocal and instrument mic. What did Glen do…he started playing one of Jerry’s Baldwins. In 1970, he played the Baldwin on the Tonight Show, the Goodtime Hour and on Tom Jones show, as recorded in this video:
Are You From Dixie
But Glen’s appearances with the Baldwin were short lived.
Charles Kaman, creator and owner of Ovation, had a fit. Glen’s show was popular and Glen had single handedly turned the fledgling Ovation company into a up and coming guitar company by playing the roundbacks on his Goodtime Hour…Charlie didn’t want that to happen with Baldwin (who had just purchased Gretsch). The R&D guys at Ovation immediately began to design a nylon to appease Glen’s desire to be able to plug in.
They developed a hybrid type nylon that was 14 frets to the neck (instead of the 12 typically seen on classical guitars), it had a 1 7/8 width fretboard (instead of 2”, typically seen on classical guitars) and it was built on the artist bowl, which Ovation had designed for Glen the previous year. This designed matched Glens style of play with a regular acoustic guitar and was a nylon. They purchased around 100 Prismatone pickups from Baldwin and quickly assembled this prototype nylon “X014” (which would eventually be the Model 1624) for Glen (Thank you Wayne Reid for providing us with these beautiful pictures of your guitar):
The R&D department had also developed another nylon (prototype X010) for Glen, using a Barcus Berry pickup system. This pickup was placed on an Ovation 1123 classical guitar. Due to the manner in which Glen played, Glen felt that the Prismatone gave a more balanced amplified response of each string and chose to play the X014. There doesn’t appear to be any pictures or videos of Glen using the X010 (once again, my appreciation to Wayne for allowing us to use his pictures for the Barcus Berry prototype X010).
Glen immediately started using the X014. And guess what…Jerry started using one also! In fact, Jerry liked the one he was using so much, Buddy Blackmon states, that he had Ovation build him a couple just to have around.
Here are some pictures which show Glen playing the XO14, that Wayne provided, "taken at the Milwaukee state Fair on Aug 21, 1971. There were apparently 28,000 at the first show, 22,500 at the second one... not a bad turnout"
Jim Rickard, from Ovation, quickly designed and produced a pickup for Glen’s nylon Ovation. It was a brilliant design. It was built into the guitar, could be used on nylon and steel strings, was adjustable, and significantly reduced feedback. Ovation added a volume and tone control…all of this because Glen had used Jerry’s Baldwin. Once Glen went on air with this, Ovation instantly became an industry standard in acoustics, offering a mass produced acoustic/electric. It would take the competition 10 years to catch up. This pickup was used by Ovation until the day they closed the plant.
Glen’s love for playing nylon faded out over the years. It is interesting to note that, after Ovation designed and produced their piezo pickup, Glen seemed to favor the Prismatone equipped Ovation. There were many occasions Glen was seen using this guitar after Ovation produced their pickup, as late as 1981. Here is Glen in 1977 playing the Country Artist with the Prismatone…6 years after Ovation had sold thousands of their electric/acoustic guitars.
And to support his fondness for the Prismatone 1624, it is the only nylon acoustic seen on the “stairs” photo taken in his Malibu home.
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A look at the history behind many of the guitars Glen has used throughout his career.