So I recently met a great uncle and aunt I didn't know existed. They had me over and after hearing that I played guitar they pulled out an old ovation and asked if I'd play them something. I looked over the guitar and I could see it was in disrepair, and after tuning it I noticed how bad the intonation was. After some talking I found out the guitar hadn't been played in years and I know the wood is dried out quite a bit(I live in Nevada, it had no humidfier and has been stored in a garage) I also noticed the action was insanely high towards the end of the fret board but I wasn't sure if that was normal or not on early ovations. I know the fretboard needs oiled but other than that I'm not sure what to do about the terrible intonation and high action, does anyone have experience with twenty to thirty year old ovations?

Since seeing a guitar in bad shape always makes me sad, and as a good gesture to my new found relatives I'd like to try and fix it. I have some pictures on my phone but am having trouble getting them off of it and will post them when I can.

Edit: Also it does have a pick up system and looked most like the legend series but I couldn't name the specefic model. Looks very close to this http://www.ovationguitars.com/archive/guitar/legend_1617 Due to the lighting I had a hard time reading the label and didn't have a flashlight on hand. I'm not 100% sure that is what it is, but that is what it looked like.
Last edited by ^-^ at Jan 29, 2012,
The easiest thing to do is to have it looked at by a pro.

If the instrument has been in very dry conditions for a long time, the top will normally "sink" and also be prone to cracking. This would likely not be the cause of "insanely high action".

More likely the neck has pulled up under the tension of the strings and the dry climate. With an ovation, you don't have to worry about the body.

If you want to go the cheaper route, I would suggest buying a good in-case humidifier and leaving the instrument in it's case, with the strings detuned a bit... For maybe a month.

Then check the action height and neck straightness against the figures given on the Frets.Com site.
If there's no improvement, then perhaps a truss-rod adjustment is in order.

Note that the high action itself will cause intonation problems; "pulling" the string sharp as you press it to the fretboard.
I'd love to take it to a pro, but I recently moved here and haven't found a good luthier/repairman or shop that I like or trust yet. I miss my little music store

I've been thinking it needed an in case humidifier, and I"ll probably pick one up for it anyways. I have some small ones I've liked to use in preventing this issue but which would be best at fixing it? I don't think the small clay in a cup ones will fix this.
Ask the folks over at The Ovation Fan Club. A trip to Hartford CT for your O may not be a bad idea either.
--- Joe ---
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When the strings are exceedingly high over the neck, it's usually a sign that the wood around the bridge raising up (belly bulge). Due to the guitar being stored in an environment that is very arid and excessivly hot, a combination of shrinking wood and the glue becoming soft caused the bracing to start seperating for the underside of the face, heat by the way, is the method luthiers use to disassemble guitars. The easiest way to check for bulge is to take a straight edge and run it width wise just under the bridge and then length wise parallel across the guitar, a bulge will become immediately apparent.

One other possibility is that the neck is seperating from the body. Carefully examine the joint between the neck and body looking for evidence of a gap.

Either way, unless you are very handy with woodworking, then its off to luthier with it.
I'm the only player to be sponsered by 7 guitar companies not to use their products.
It could be a week or two before I can see that guitar again. I remember there being a long finish crack at the heal of the neck but no gap and the crack did not follow into the wood, just the finish.

I also though most of the bracing was fine but I didn't have anything to test for either a bridge or a sunken top. If I had known they had this I would have taken more things to test it. I know at the very least the guitar is SUPER dry. The heat I'm not sure about though. Their garage stays fairly cool so I think the big problem is the lack of humidity, but I will check for these signs when I see it next.

Also I am pretty handy with woodworking however I don't have almost any tools with me and have limited experience with guitar, so I'd take it to a luthier.