U.K.II review by Ovation

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 6.1 (23 votes)
Ovation: U.K.II
1

Price paid: $ 550

Purchased from: eBay

Sound — 9
The blend of the two pickups in opposite phases gives you great "notch" type tones that even rival the effect of a wah pedal. It does not sing as well in soloing, so I think it's rhythm voice is noticeably better than its solo voice, though part of that is the chops (or lack thereof) of the player, yours truly.

Overall Impression — 9
Though you'd expect it to be light from the aluminum/foam body, the electronics and hardware contribute to a weight that rivals a Les Paul, but it doesn't have the same mass of wood. Therefore, you have great sustain, but it does not bloom the way that notes on a Les Paul do (which I attribute mostly to the LP's weight/mass and bridge).

Reliability & Durability — 9
The blend of the two pickups in opposite phases gives you great "notch" type tones that even rival the effect of a wah pedal. It does not sing as well in soloing, so I think it's rhythm voice is noticeably better than its solo voice, though part of that is the chops (or lack thereof) of the player, yours truly.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The UKII has blade humbuckers, each with a switch that can be moved from series to parallel. The forward setting on each pickup has a smoother and modestly louder humbucker tone, while the rear setting has more single coil quality to it. I just discovered that the middle position on the parallel/series switch yields a (perhaps unintended) third tone for each pickup. It's actually not a setting, but I still get tone in the middle position, which actually seems to cut either to the two blades being out of phase or maybe even cutting to a single coil. I've researched alot on coils, taps, splits, shunts etc... Lately and I'm convinced that the phase switch gives you the following on each pickup (parallel HB-front; series HB-rear; and the unintended middle position with the two humbucking coils on the same pickup being out of phase). The weaker signal is what suggests to me that the halfway position is the accidental out-of-phase tone.

Features — 10
Same specs as published, just one of the unique color and inlay options. Mine has a black finish with white bow tie inlays and white binding. Specs.: Urelite (aluminum core with foam filler) 24 fret neck (2 octaves!) hollow brass saddles and brass nut, medium fret wire. You have to play this to appreciate it. Hard to really get it, even from the glowing reviews. Les Paul lovers shouldn't feel threatened, I think the Legend of the UKII being guilt to mimic an LP has taken on an undeserved life of its own. No knock on the Les Paul - it has a very specific sweet spot or 2 in its sound (very characteristic, but the UKII is a different animal. The single cut shape is not strictly an LP mimic. The Viper electric series has the same shape, and as many people correctly note, the upper bout on teh UKII actually hints more of a Telecaster (angled) look than the heavier and rounder LP shape. Likewise, the back of the guitar is not as full as an LP, and closer inspection reveals that there is less to the volume of the UKII body. The dual/tone volume controls do mimic an LP. The pickups are overwound, per Ovation's experimental and leading edge ideas at the time, and are definitely louder than normal pickups - not in a crude way, but in a good way. It's not simply more volume at the same settings, the signal drives your amp setup more quickly and breaks up sooner than other guitars. That's not to say that they are "hotter" than other pickups as I think most people might use the term to hint at distortion, but they certainly have a characteristic Drive that hits at lower volumes. This design also gives it a more versatile sound pallete, that to my ears sounds like some of the in-between sounds that Jimmy Page or other players get out of a non-standard dual humbucker LP with custom wiring, such as in/out phasing. Not all settings are ideal, but you have lots of options with the 3-way toggle and series/parallel switch on each humbuckers, plus separate tone/volume pots for each humbucker. Some tones are muddy (like a Les Paul), particularly the parallel HB setting with the tone rolled back (which I think is fat, loud, undefined). I've never liked this tone on any guitar. However, with the tone knob middle or up on either pickup, the tonal options are very pleasing and versatile. What I can say before departing from the comparison is that the UKII in my opinion actually does have the vibe of a Les Paul for rhythm, but does it better (IMHO), because of the pickup configuration. This guitar was actually stereo (way before it's time).

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