Thursday, 6 October 2011

Ovation Magnum Bass. . . . .

Ovation Magnum!

This is going to be quite detailed, for two reasons - the first is
several people have said that some of my posts lack detailed
descriptions - Sorry!
The second is, you just don't see that many of these around.
I have seen a lot of live music, over the years - big venues, pubs
and clubs and I don't recall seeing one being played live. . . ever!!

I can't recall the first time I ever saw one of these but I think it
may have been the one the Kelly Groucutt had in ELO.
Anyway, that was a very long time ago but what I do remember
thinking was how unusual it was.
I was also a very long time before I got to own one and after looking
at quite a few of them, I ended up being drawn to this one and as
the saying goes, paid top $$$ for the privilege of owning it!
It was the best I could find!

The controls are simple and straightforward, with the added
bonus of stereo.
When blending the pick-ups on this, there is an audible difference
down to about 7 on the dial - a lot of two pick-up set ups, like a
Jazz, are very sensitive - fraction of a turn and you have lost
the tone of the lower volume pick-up. Not with this!
The other thing is, when you get a sound you like from the bridge
and the sound you like from the neck pick-up and then centre the
selector switch - the combined sounds don't mix and you loose what
you have and end up with something else!
Not with the Stereo!

The first time I played around with it, I used an Ashdown Combo and
an Ashdown head into a 2 x 10 - two rigs.
I put the Neck PU into the 4 x 10 and the bridge into the 2 x 10.
Select the sound you want from the Neck, with the switch on Neck,
select the sound from the Bridge PU, with the switch on Bridge and
then. . . . . . push the switch to the centre! Taddah!! Cracked it!
Without changing the setting on the amps, I then swapped them over
and got a different sound and then went Mono into the Combo and
that was very different!

The Neck Pick-up looks Big & Beefy and you would think it
would deliver a Gibson EB type thud!
Far from it!
It looks big but under that cover are four individual coils,
that are independently adjustable for volume.
The Eagle Eyed amongst you will see that the adjusters on mine
are all set the same. This is because I have just changed the strings
and at the time I took the shots, I had not set them up.

If you click on this link, you will see more details on the Pick-ups
and other Ovation features.
Ovation Magnum Manual

The Bridge.

Well, what can you say??
Nothing like this on any other bass that I know of.
Slightly quirky, takes a while to grasp how to set it up the way you
want it, in order to set the action.
Adjustment on the top and at the rear for height and it is a bit of a
fiddle to set the intonation up as it should be.
Just odd!
Once set up and left alone, it's fine - so best left alone!

The neck is very comfortable and has a familiar feel to it - Not
Jazz, closer to a Precision but not the same - if I had to pin it
down, it is sort of Gibson ish but a better description would
by "an Ovation profile"
The fingerboard is a good looker and the fret work is A1.
Good quality tuners, marked as Ovation but I suspect they come
from a well known maker!!!
Same type as on the Peavey T-40 - just great.

The head is the Signature shape for Ovation and follows that same
shape as the acoustics and the electrics, Viper and Breadwinner etc.

If you are thinking of buying a Magnum, I'm sure you would enjoy
it, as it is something a bit different.
Comfortable to play, balances nicely, not heavy - a nice weight,
some different and very usable tones, NOT deep and thuddy
but can be if you want it to be, the large pick-up surround is
really great - brighter, rest your thumb further back - more mellow,
move it towards the neck - in fact move it to any position you find
comfortable, there's a lot of scope.

So, you've made you mind up that you want one.
Famous players such as Jah Wobble and Kim Gordon have been
keen fans as well as many other artists over the years but there
is one thing that you must be made aware of. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

WARNING!! This Bass may not accept your favourite strings!!!
Because of the design of the bridge, it is one hell of a stretch up
to the nut and with a lot of strings, the windings start to reduce,
particularly on the "E" before the thicker part of the string reaches
the nut and on Silk end strings, it is the silk bit that sits in the nut!
This is the case on my Magnum III, which has Rotosound on.
See Magnum III below.

I can't say that in the case of the III it deadens the sound, as it
still sounds bright enough but I have never have any other
strings on it!

So, there you go - a fairly detailed description of a a slightly
different Bass from the norm!

The Ovation Magnum Bass.

Any questions, happy to answer - just drop me a line.

Cheers. :)

UPDATE August 22nd 2012

I have been asked several times, what lengths of strings are
required for the Magnum.

Here is the answer.

I have measured from the anchored side of the ball end to the nut and to the 
centre of the tuner post.
This is taken from my Magnum III but will still relate to a Magnum I

Hope this helps.

Cheers. :) 

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Anonymous said...

A beautiful instrument, thanks for the description. Those silk ends must surely affect intonation too, not only tone?

Flat Eric said...

Hi Anonymous. It may be a surprise but the intonation is fine and it still retains a very bright sound. The one you refer to is the Magnum III, the Magnum 1 has Elites on it.
Cheers. :)

Bassman the instrument not the fish said...

I have a Mag 1 that I bought when they first came out and have had it in the rotation for almost 40 years. It's still one of my favorite basses; it just feels good, great neck and action adjustments.

I’m running it out of an SVT4Pro, SVT410hlf and a custom double 15 Altec 421A box when playing bigger venues…big, big sound and with the 15’s I swear the bass growls like a lion! I use just the 410 box in rehearsals and smaller places. I had been using a HiWatt DR103 for years and it was very limited but the Ampeg set ups give tons of tone options.

Strings? That is always my dilemma 66L's used to fit from my memory, I have been using D'Addario's rounds but the winds vary. The string windings not fitting properly bugs me a bit.

Flat Eric said...

Hi, fellow Magnum Player. :)
Not sure where in the world you are but if it helps. . . mine is strung with Stadium Elites and they suit the bass, very well.
As you can see from the images, they fit fine. :)

Anonymous said...

I just saw journey Live in Houston
Playing what looks to be the Same Ovation Bass "Don't Stop Believing"
was the song
Years ago when i bought my 1976
Ripper Bass,I immediately installed
A Dimarzio model One,Thunder
Would love to get my hands on
an Ovation

Flat Eric said...

Hi. Ross Valory used a Magnum quite a bit, as well as being one of the first major names to use a Peavey T-40. Don't stop believing is also one of my favourite all time tracks. The Magnum is a really nice bass. Keep saving and one will come up, one day.

Cheers. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm considering picking up a Magnum - I've fallen in love with the body style. Right now I'm playing a 1963 Kay K2B bass which is nice and light to carry. How heavy is the Magnum weight-wise?

Flat Eric said...

Hi. At a guess. I would say 8 to 9lbs, around 3.6 to 4 Kg. I will weigh it over the next few days and edit the post.
Cheers. :)

Anonymous said...

As for suitable strings, DR's have no silk windings and are plenty long enough. Those are my favorites. Likewise R. Cocco - they're a little shorter, so you don't even need to cut them. Aurora strings are also a good fit.

Flat Eric said...

Thanks for that - always handy to tap into another player's experience.
Cheers. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Eric,
Thanks for measuring the sting lengths. After showing the measurements to my favorite sting shop,
He confirmed that La Bella extra long flats would fit perfect and they do :) Not affiliated, just great customer service! He'll tell you if whatever string brand you want to use will fit. He'll even make a set of strings for you in what ever gauge and brand.

Anyway how's the action on your bass. Mine feels a little high at 3mm E string on the 12th


Flat Eric said...

Ralph, Hi. Thanks for the info - that's another one on the list!
The action on mine is around 2.5mm.
I set all my instruments up using drill bits as an accurate way of getting a measurement.
I may do a bit of a feature on it. Cheers. :)

Evan Mellichampe said...

GHS has some Long Scale Plus Boomers that should enable you to get the string floss beyond the nut slots.

I have a custom bass that sets the ball ends of the strings pretty far back and these Boomers were the only ones that fit correctly.

Jim Landis said...

I have an ovation magnum bass guitar
identical to the one you and have been interested in possibly selling it.It is worn a little on the back from a belt buckle. Wondered how much it would be worth with its original hardshell case. Thanks Jim

Flat Eric said...

Hi - Nice to hear from you. If you sell it, you may miss it! If you feel you must, it depends on where in the world you are. Best thing to do is to search for ones for sale at the moment - that will give you an idea of what they are worth at this time. One is the same condition as mine, would be at the higher end - I have also seen some butchered ones that don't go for that much. Good luck. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

I just picked up a rather road-weary Magnum I and I'm trying to get it into decent shape. I'm wondering what the screws in the bridge saddles are supposed to screw into. On my Magnum they're just floating and readily fall out with the strings removed.

Flat Eric said...

Hi. It's a while sisnce I had a good look at the bridge but from memory, there is a piece underneath each saddle, so when the intonation is set, the screw is tightened and the part underneath clamps it.If you e.mail me, I will pick it up from there. Cheers. :)

Ant said...

A freind of mine in the UK has had one for about 30 years that he won't part with.

Do you happen to know anyone who's selling one? (fretted preferably)


Flat Eric said...

Ant, Hi. They do come up, now and again - mostly slightly tired and sometimes slghtly butchered! I bypassed so many, before I got to mine - took me ages to find the one I wanted.
Good luck in your search - let me know when you have got one.
You may be interested in a Magnum III,pretty much the same as the trad Magnum but with a different body shape. There is one on my blog which I may part with.
Cheers. :)

Unknown said...

HI Found last week a magnum I I placed new DR strings, woah, it kicks ! what a superb bass. And i found one i good condition with orginal case, happy ;-)Best Marc