Hillman Guitar No. 10
Ovation Legend 1619-4
Serial No.  049142

Bedside Legend  .Ovation Legend Guitar


In the mid-'70s we obtained an Ovation dealership and the sales people offered us a good introductory special on this Ovation Legend. In many ways it is a great guitar -- great tone and projection from its deep roundback . . . very elaborate abalone inlays . . .  fine flat-top lines . . . a great molded case -- but over the years it has developed a few serious flaws. The electronics are controlled by only a volume control, with no control over tone. As a result the sound is often quite unusable without major exterior EQ adjustment. Possibly one reason this model was sold off so cheaply when we purchased it was that the wood wasn't properly cured. The truss rod in the neck, for many years, had to be adjusted with each change of season. In recent years the spruce top has developed a major crack down the middle from the bridge to the tail pin.

Despite some of these flaws, we've used it as our main acoustic on many of our live shows, weddings, recording sessions, etc. It was featured prominently on the cover - and sound - of our Hillman Express ~ Track 15 ~ Vol. 6 album. Although we had almost always used electrics for our TV work, it seemed appropriate to press the Ovation into play for the 1980 CCMA Big Country Show at the Winnipeg Centennial Auditorium.  We were asked to do two original songs and were backed by a full orchestra. We chose two of our original singles recordings: the uptempo Cajun Stomp and our top ten release --  the duet ballad, One Night Stand. The concert was quite long and featured most of the top Canadian Country stars of the time.  Appropriately, we were introduced by Nashville's George Hamilton IV, who was familiar with us through the reputation and trail of destruction we left along the English Workingman Club circuit in the '70s as he worked many of the same clubs. It was a good show for us as we were introduced as having just won the Manitoba Entertainers of the Year Award, the crowd seemed to be with us, and we got to rub shoulders with Canada’s top country performers on that one -- and the Ovation stayed in tune. The tape footage was broken into two separate shows that were shown many times on CBC network television -- shown everywhere but in our hometown Brandon, where the programmer at the local station opted to show a movie each time. The guys working at the station let us in to watch one of the shows off the network feed and we have a copy on Sony U-Matic 3/4" tape.

The producer of the CBC show seemed impressed with our act and later called us to do a major country music gala in Toronto in conjunction with the Grey Cup festivities. Unfortunately, it was on short notice and we were already booked to play for a best friend's wedding that weekend. This and the demands from my day job, teaching high school, and caring for two-year-old Ja-On, made for a very difficult decision: we declined. The road not taken . . . . where would it have led?

I ramble... but everytime I gaze at one of the members of my guitar family, certain thoughts seem to flood over me . . . these are just some of the memories that the Ovation brings back. Many more such tales shall surface in other parts of our Musical Odyssey pages.


Promo Shots
Ja-On - my co-writer on many songs
Son Ja-On
Co-writer on 
Bye-Bye Ja-Ja
Ja helping out at a SOO'S Staff Party sing-along
Putting the Legend to work
at a SOO'S staff party
Ja and the Legend
Ja-Ja leading
the percussion section
Legend leading party sing-a-long
Robin and the Legend
Son Robin's 
First Guitar Lesson
Photo from Winnipeg Tribune Magazine Feature
Photo from the feature story done on us by
The Winnipeg Tribune Magazine
After receiving the Manitoba Entertainers of the Year Award

Ovation Custom Legend
Ratings from Fan Responses (marks out of 10)

Features 9.5
Sound 9.5
Action, Fit, and Finish 10
Reliability/Durability 10
Customer Support 9.5
Overall Rating 9.5

Feedback Quotes from Fans
* The Legend shows a lack of technology - it's pretty old because there is no eq just a stacked metal knob beside the neck with volume.
* The guitar is a work of art ~ the body is spruce, its a five-piece neck with ebony fret board.  It has very stable gold tuners ~ a carved walnut bridge and a carved walnut truss rod adjuster on the head.
* The guitar is covered in abalone mother of pearl - it's a work of art.
* My only complaint is the location of the battery you have to loosen all the strings in order to get anywhere near it..
*  The guitar is a deep bowl, non-cutaway and it does have a full sound and a sweet mellow tone ~ the sound is very clear, bright and punchy with no hiss or noise whatsoever.
*  The action and finish on this guitar is perfect ~ the action is as low ~  the finish is very shiny when buffed up ~ I know this is an old guitar but it looks brand new, apart from the gold tuners which have faded slightly.
*  It's a very sturdy guitar
*  Like a typical Deep Bowl should be. The tonal qualities are just great. It's also great if you want something that plays in inclement weather.

Ovation Guitars:
Innovation and Technology
Ref: King Music
Ovation Web Site

Originated by aeronautical pioneer Charlie Kaman, ovation guitars were created with the idea that aviation technology could improve the design of the acoustic guitar. "It wasn't a case of just making a guitar. It was very clear that with our background in aerospace we could really make a better one. We could create something that was anew advance, as we saw it. We had the capability. We had the technology," claimed Kaman.

The Unique Roundback

The first generation of Ovation guitars, with their roundback and unique features, were first released in 1966 with mixed reviews: hailed by professional musicians and treated with reserve by guitar purists. More than three decades later, the professional musicians have been proven right - Ovation is the highest selling American-made guitar in the world today.

The idea of the roundback came from the structural arch, with the goal of eliminating the need for braces inside the guitar. The shape was designed to reflect the sound towards the soundhole, which has created substantially greater projection and volume than traditionally designed guitars. Today, Ovation makes roundbacks in three body sizes, super, shallow, mid depth and deep.

The Tone of the Ovation
The tone of an acoustic guitar is most influenced by the bracing that supports the top of the guitar. Drawing on their aeronautical experience, Ovation has tested and experimented with hundreds of different patterns and strut designs. Instead of compromising and choosing a single design, Ovation offers a variety of different bracing patterns across their lines of instruments. Each one has its own unique identity while maintaining its distinctness as an Ovation.

The Acoustic/Electric
Towards the end of the sixties, professional musicians moved to amplify their guitars. At the forefront of this movement, Ovation engineers developed the under-saddle pickup, a concept that made the acoustic/electric guitar professionally acceptable. This original pickup has yet to be surpassed, and remains as a central component of every Ovation acoustic/electric instrument.

The Innovation of Ovation
With these unprecedented designs and innovations, especially the unique roundback, Ovation has advanced the tone, balance and projection of the acoustic/electric guitar to a new level. This innovation through technology has been the philosophy at the center of Ovation's development over the past thirty years. In that time, more new ideas about acoustic/electric guitars have been developed by Ovation than any other manufacturer in a century.

 The Current Ovation Legend Collection

The Custom Legend

The Custom Legend is a fine example of New England craftsmanship as you're likely to find. The Sitka Spruce top is hand selected from Ovation's best AAA grade woods and is carefully calibrated to produce the richest tone and the fullest volume. With over 200 individual pieces of abalone hand-inlaid around the top, the Custom Legend pleases the eye as well as the ear.

The Custom Legend features:

Optima Preamp with Built in Tuner
Mahogany & Maple 5-piece Neck
20-fret Bound Ebony Fingerboard
Inlaid Abalone Purfling & Position Markers
Carved Walnut Bridge
24K Gold Plated Machines w/Pearloid Buttons

The Legend

With its quality materials, tasteful cosmetics and exceptional sound, the Legend truly lives up to its name. This model has long been the choice of professional guitarists, particularly studio players. For 1997, the Legend family brings back the popular Transparent Red Stain finish. There is also a Legend recording model (1777-4RM) featuring the OptiMax system with built in Telex microphone.

OP-X Preamp & Electronics
Solid Sitka Spruce Top
Mahogany & Maple 5-piece Neck
20-fret Bound Ebony Fingerboard
Pearl Position Markers

The Electric Light Orchestra - Out of the Blue album: Jeff Lynne: Lead vocals, backing vocals, lead guitar, slide guitar, rhythm guitar, Gibson EDS 1275, Les Paul Custom, Marauder, Ovation 1615/4, 1619/4, Wurlitzer E.P. 200, Mini-moog, percussion.

John Lennon in the studio with his Ovation

Jeannie C. Riley and Ovation by her tour bus.
"The Hillmans From Canada" shared top billing with Jeannie
on our tour of US Grandstand Shows.

More to come...

Photo of Ovation Custom Legend GuitarPhoto of Ovation Legend Guitar

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1. Gig Notes: 1-10
2. Album Notes
3. Guitar Tales
4. Prairie Saga
5. Roots
6. Photos
7. Media
8. 100 Songs
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Bill Hillman
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