Hands-On Review:A comely stage guitar with cutting-edge electronics

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By Gretchen Stack


Ovation Celebrity DeluxeThe flattop acoustic guitar settled into its current six-string form over a century ago. While some of the antique flattops are sweet-sounding instruments, guitar development didn't stop way back then, especially not at Ovation. When I play the CS257 Celebrity Deluxe it's obvious I'm holding the result of a lot of very serious brainwork. It plays beautifully, sounds amazing, and looks truly fabulous.

Drop dead gorgeous
Celebrity Deluxe Musician's Friend sent me sports a transparent blue finish that really knocks my socks off. Under stage lights it positively glows with color. Also striking is the unique sound port design. Rather than a center hole, the sound ports are several smaller holes located on both sides of the upper bout. Multi-chrome five-piece wood epaulettes really make it a magical design.

Five-ply top binding and careful binding of the rosewood fretboard add a lot of visual elegance. Alternating diamond and dot mother-of-pearl fretboard inlays with a double-diamond and dot pattern at the twelfth fret are executed flawlessly. Gold tuners top a package that adds up to real splendor.

Cybernetic instrument
Nestled into the top of the Celebrity Deluxe's waist is a very sci-fi-looking pre-amp and built-in tuner. Because it makes a loathsome job easy, this tuner alone would be worth the price of the guitar. It's automatic and chromatic and it works amazingly well.

Just push a button to turn it on, pluck a note, and it tells you what note you're plucking. A green LED tells you if you've got it spot on and red LEDs on either side of it tell you if you're sharp or flat by strobing faster if you're farther away from the note, and slower if you're closer. And when you get the tuning on, it stays on. The green LED lights and stays lit with none of that wishy-washy indecision that drives me crazy in other tuners.

To the right of the tuner LEDs are four sliders, one for the volume and three that let you fine-contour the guitar's tone. A button lets you shift the frequency of the middle range so you can really hone in on the perfect timbre. There's also a bypass button and a preshape button that boosts the bass and treble and reduces frequencies below 40Hz. I played a loud room with the
Celebrity Deluxe and found the preshape helped bring up the guitar without drowning my vocals.

Ovation Celebrity DeluxeA real player's guitar
The beauty of the
Celebrity Deluxe isn't just skin deep. The U-shaped, satin-finished, mahogany neck is just the right width at the nut (1-5/8"), tapers perfectly, and joins the body with a very gentle heel at the 14th fret. Combined with the generous cutaway and extended fretboard, this neck makes me want to play FAST. No wonder Al DiMeola plays Ovation.

The Lyrachord shallow bowl-shaped composite back makes the
Celebrity comfortable to hold and quite light. There's a friction patch on the lower waist to keep it from sliding off your lap.

The precision dovetail neck joint and sealed high-ratio Ovation tuners are obvious reasons why the tuning is so easy and stable. The peg-free string-thru walnut bridge is another. But there's a deeper reason. Instead of the typical routed trench with a truss rod inside, the
Celebrity's neck is filled with a rigid, square aluminum channel in which the truss rod is housed. The result is a neck that stays really straight under rough road conditions, lasts forever, and keeps the tuning rock solid.

Click to EnlargeHeavenly tonem
Of course, all the looks, playability, and nifty electronics in the world don't mean much without basic good tone. This is where the
Celebrity Deluxe really shines. Ovation's unique and innovative Lyrachord back projects way better than any flat-backed guitar. The off-center sound ports permit an innovative bracing style on the spruce top that resonates beautifully with huge volume. The sound ports are also placed perfectly for miking, since your hand is not constantly passing between the sound hole and the mike.

I've never played an acoustic guitar of this quality for a price anywhere near this low. Ovation has used superior engineering to create amazing playability and tone for a stunningly low outlay.

Let Musician's friend send you a
Celebrity Deluxe or other great Ovation guitar today. Our prices won't be beat, we guarantee it.


Features and specs:


  • Lyrachord shallow-bowl composite back
  • High-pressure laminate spruce top with quintad bracing
  • Mahogany neck
  • Bound rosewood fretboard
  • Walnut string-thru pegless bridge with compensated nut
  • Gold, sealed Ovation high-ratio tuners
  • Under-bridge piezo pickup
  • OP30 pre-amp with graphic EQ
  • Built-in tuner
  • 5-piece epaulettes
  • 5-ply body binding
  • Diamond and dot mother-of-pearl fretboard inlays
  • 25-1/4" scale
  • 1-5/8" nut width