|Body And Neck:|
Ovation have made a name for themselves in the acoustic guitar world with their innovative body designs and proprietary Lyrachord building material. Their Applause Balladeer AB24CII-CED incorporates their history of innovation in a budget-friendly package for modern classical players. It’s found its way onto our chart of the best sub-$300 classical guitars, so it’s probably worth a closer look!
With the AB24CII, Ovation brings their trademark design innovations to a classical guitar. The body, like all Ovation guitars, is made of Lyrachord – a proprietary synthetic material that makes the guitar nearly indestructible and gives a massive boost to projection. The parabolic curved shape, textured feel and handsome upper cutaway make the guitar incredibly comfortable to hold and play.
The top, in traditional classical fashion, is made of layered cedar. While this is a laminate guitar, the ‘layered’ designation means that the top is made completely from genuine wood – not particleboard or MDF with a paper-thin veneer of wood, as many cheap guitars are.
Scalloped spruce bracing inside the guitar also helps keep your tone pristine. The 25.6” mahogany neck (flat, like vintage classical models) is topped with a 19-fret ovangkol fretboard. An African relative of rosewood, ovangkol is an increasingly popular material in guitar manufacture because of its full midrange and better sustainability.
Beyond its construction, the AB24CII also boasts high-quality hardware across the board. The bridge, like the fretboard, is carved from ovangkol. Across the neck, the traditional slotted headstock is home to six chrome tuning machines. Tuning and intonation are generally solid – no problems in this department.
Electronically, this model carries an Ovation Slimline USP (under-saddle piezo) pickup, contained completely within the guitar’s body. An Ovation CE304T preamp is also situated on the guitar’s left bout. With 3-band EQ, an included tuner, and volume and phase settings onboard, players will have no problem tailoring their sound to any amp they plug into.
Many guitarists might be shocked that a guitar with a synthetic body can actually sound this good. The AB24CII boasts crystal-clear articulation, with exceptional range and definition in both bass and treble. Unplugged, the guitar projects well and contains all the hallmarks of great classical guitar tone – it far outstrips many other models in the same price range.
When plugged in, the notes gain a solid dose of electronic punchiness and depth. That electronic color is especially present with hard strumming or chunking near the bridge. However, the piezo pickup on the AB24CII retains much more classical character than many other under-saddle pickups. There’s no shrillness or ringing quality here; tones remain warm and glassy even when amplified.
The Ovation Applause Balladeer AB24CII-CED is an innovative electro-classical with all the right touches for the modern player. It’s comfortable, stylish, and offers some of the best amplified classical tones anywhere near this price range. At under $300, both newer players and gigging pros will undoubtedly love this guitar.