Review:Ovation Guitars Elite Plus Contour Koa

(Image credit: Ovation Guitars)

Ovation—the company that pioneered the modern acoustic-electric guitar and popularized the use of composite materials for acoustic guitar construction—celebrated its 50th anniversary this year in a big way by introducing 33 new models.

With its enticing combination of exotic tone woods, professional-quality electronics, intricately detailed inlay work, and surprisingly sensible price, the new Elite Plus series stood out from Ovation’s similarly impressive crowd of new offerings.

We took a look at the Elite Plus Contour Koa, which features a figured koa veneer top, although other Elite Plus choices include models with okume feather, flame maple, and quilted maple tops.


With its figured koa top with a rich, brown hue, flame maple multiple-soundhole epaulets, hand-inlaid abalone purfling and abalone diamond and dot fretboard inlays, and deluxe grade ebony fingerboard, the Ovation Elite Plus Contour Koa has a breathtaking appearance rivaling custom acoustics that cost five times as much or more. Numerous other upscale features abound, including the five-piece mahogany and maple neck with its satin natural finish, an angled fretboard that provides 20 frets for the low E string and 23 frets for the high E string, scalloped quarter-sawn X-bracing, and a pinless bridge and tuner buttons crafted out of ebony. The back is Ovation’s signature Lyrachord composite with the Contour cutaway that provides comfortable access to the uppermost frets.

The Elite Plus models are equipped with Ovation’s OP Pro Studio preamp electronics and OCP-1K pickup. The OP Pro Studio preamp features an onboard compressor (Expressor) with its own level slider, individual low, mid, and high sliders for the three-band EQ, gain and drive knobs, and a tuner with an easy-to-read LED. The entire preamp assembly pops out with the press of the button to provide access to the battery compartment.


The Elite Plus Contour Koa delivers harmonically rich tone with attractive treble overtones and focused bass. The sound is decidedly upscale, with expressive nuances players look for in a professional-quality instrument. While it may not be as resonant as more traditional acoustic designs, this is actually an advantage when amplifying the guitar for live performance as it avoids feedback. The craftsmanship throughout is outstanding, although our example’s circular rear access port, which is anchored via a single flathead screw, didn’t fit entirely flush to the Lyrachord back. Some players may view this as an insignificant annoyance, which is more than compensated for by the stellar playability of the Elite’s silky smooth neck and the gorgeous glow of the koa top and abalone inlays.

STREET PRICE $1,199.99
MANUFACTURER Ovation Guitars,

• Ovation’s Elite Plus Contour models are available with figured koa, okume feather, flame maple, or quilted maple veneer tops.

• The built-in OP Pro Studio preamp features a compressor to deliver professional-quality sound for any live performance or studio recording application.


The Ovation Elite Plus Contour Koa’s distinctive, upscale appearance is perfect for any performer who wants an attention-getting guitar, but its stellar sound ensures that the audience will continue to pay attention throughout the set.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.