The Designer Writes:

Mike Writes:

Hi Steve,

I'm the designer of the Breadwinner/Deacon body. I worked at Ovation Instruments in 1971 as a commercial artist in their advertising/public relations department. My primary job was print advertising and sales promotion. One day in 1971, Jim Ricard, the chief engineer, asked me to submit sketches for a solid body electric that they were contemplating producing. I did and the Breadwinner/Deacon was one of them. I left Ovation shortly after that due to a company (all of Kaman) wide layoff. I never got to see my guitar made. Years later while watching T.V. I saw David Cassidy playing a Breadwinner on a rerun of the Partridge Family Show. I was thrilled to say the least. Ever since then I wanted one to hang on my living room wall. I don't play the guitar myself. I did not design the "Limited" model. I don't know who did. I didn't even know that existed until just now looking through your website.

I then asked:

Did you get paid for your design?

First of all, I wouldn't have gotten paid more than my regular salary for the design anyway--there aren't any royalties when you are a salaried employee.

Do you have any sketches of your design work on the Breadwinner?

I do have "copies" of my original rough sketches somewhere. The originals belong to Ovation. If I ever find them I'll email copies to you if I can figure out how to do that.

Did you design the guitar around "balance" as the ads said, or was it the likeness to an axe.. or just aesthetics?

I was long gone (1971) in 1972 0r '73 when they began advertising and selling the guitar. But my design concept did include balance as part of my original concept. I'm not an engineer, so I had no idea if it would be "balanced" by weight. My idea was to make it resemble a medieval battle axe because musicians at that time often referred to their instruments as their "axe". I also designed it so there was a deep cutaway below the strings to reach the high notes. I also wanted it to rest comfortably on the knee when playing while seated. Hence the cutaway at the bottom. I also suggested that they keep the original Ovation trademark peghead on this guitar and they did. I wanted them to make the guitar body out of the lightweight acoustic resin, Lyrachord that they make the backs for the roundback acoustic out of. The stuff is virtually indestructible. I guess they didn't like that idea and made the body out of solid mahogany. I had also suggested possibly making the body hollow with a honeycomb structure inside the hollow for strength and to keep it light weight. I got that idea from a pair of snow skis that were popular at that time called Hexel's.

Do you have any further recollections from the 70's?

The things I remember most from my Ovation days are anything about the advertising and sales promotion I worked on (that's all public). That includes stuff I remember about the guitar line (acoustic and electric) and the amp line. I was too low on the totem pole to have any trade secrets. All the info I was given was what was intended for the promotional pieces I was producing only.

You seem puzzled why Glen Campbell and David Cassidy are listed as famous "players". Here's some background on that.

Glen Campbell was the original "endorsee" of the Ovation guitar and other Ovation products almost from the get go. The first Ovation roundback acoustic came out in 1967 and I believe Campbell became a spokesman for Ovation about that time(?). He has done more to popularize the Ovation guitar than any other performer.

Ovation started a campaign before I came to Ovation in 1971 to get its products, especially the roundback on t.v. and in the movies as props, etc. as much as possible. They eventually made a pact with I believe, Paramount(?), to supply the Partridge Family Show with Ovation guitars, amps, pa's, microphones, and other musical instruments (supplied by the then Kaman owned West Coast Musical Merchandise Distributors). I'm not sure I got that name right. It's been a long time.

The Partridge Family and David Cassidy used and played exclusivly Ovation instruments except for a few early shows. Therfore, David Cassidy was a major name for Ovation.

There were many other famous performers who endorsed the Ovation guitar and were used in Ovation advertising and sales promotion. I don't know if they played the Breadwinner like Campbell and Cassidy.

One really exciting thing I did was design the Ovation booth for the 1971 NAMM show in Chicago that year. It was cool, but too long to get into now.

I'd like to thank "Mike" for this information, I'm sure all trivia obsessed folk like myself are grateful too!                                                                                                                      Back