NBD: My first true impulse buy - an Ovation with a few issues (and questions)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Neo1, Jun 1, 2022.

  1. WARNING TO NEW MEMBERS - 8 years ago I had one Fender knock-off Pbass to my name and one small combo amp. Then I joined Talkbass...

    I usually do thorough research before buying a bass. I first search for a specific model, and then wait for one to pop up on Craigslist or Ebay that is to my liking. Occasionally I'll even see something interesting, and do further research, and eventually go see it and make an offer.

    This time, it was my first "I must buy this NOW" purchase.

    I just happened to be checking the local Craigslist midweek around 2 pm. Up pops a Ovation Magnum II right at that time, which I'd never heard of, with a long description, including that there's some loose wiring somewhere, and the foam mute is missing (all pictures mine, after bringing it home).


    I Googled the model and see there is a Magnum I, II, III and IV. The I and II "look" the best to my eye, and the II seems to have the highest prices being asked on Reverb (though there are only two listed for sale). It also said Ross Valory of Journey played this model on some of their early hits (there's video online). It's 34" scale. My spidey sense says this might be an OK purchase. It would also be my first "active" bass.

    I'm finishing up work, so email the guy and ask if he's available in the next 1 1/2 hours. He sends his phone #, so I call, and he gives me directions about 40 minutes away, out in the country. He doesn't have an amp, but I can bring mine. My wife is out of town (hmmm, that's always trouble), so I say I'm coming, even though there's a HUGE storm expected (we're talking severe storm warnings).

    I drive home, grab some emergency cash and a combo amp, and head out, winding my way to a little cottage in the woods that is quite packed full of stuff ("I'm getting ready for a yard sale," says the seller, but his stuffed kitchen and neighboring rooms make me suspect it's more than that). He was a nice enough guy, though, and told me a few stories as I looked at the Magnum II, which he had in a case on some chairs in his kitchen.



    Some immediate issues - the pop-up foam piece of the mute is missing, but I can probably shape one to glue on.


    The pickguard has been damaged, but someone (not the seller) went to some trouble to match up another piece so it doesn't look half bad.



    The bass looks nice to me, and though it's mahogany, it's a well-balanced 10.2 pounds (not heavy for me - it fits in nicely with the 70's collection I seemed to have started).


    The seller says he's had it about 10 years, and also has one with two inputs (the Magnum I), but he's keeping that one.

    I want to hear the bass through my amp, and he says the 9 volt battery connections were cut and he had taped them together (it requires two batteries), but it cuts out a lot. He only has one live battery, so says to hold on, and runs to an outbuilding, returning with a smoke detector. He takes out the battery and hooks them up, and then keeps pushing things together until - yup, the sound comes through fine. I also move the sliders, and hear they also make a difference.



    He starts to talk about the price he listed on Craigslist just as the heavens open up, and a hard (and I mean hard) rain starts down. He's kind of yelling over the pounding rain about all the calls he's received for it in the last hour, and that maybe he should have asked more, and...

    I pull out the $900 he had it listed for and say, "Here; I've got to run if I'm going to beat that rain." He takes the money, counts it, hesitates, and then says OK and opens the door for me. I dash through the muddy driveway, bass case in one hand, combo amp in the other, instantly soaked, but feeling that if I stayed, he would have changed his price (and the rain looked as if it was settling in for an hour or so, so I would have heard A LOT MORE stories).

    Got the bass home, cleaned it a little (I love how the aluminum bracket is half black and half-silver, due to it being used as a thumb rest - best idea ever, as I can easily slide from one pickup to the next, or stop in between).


    The neck pickups have separate adjustable trim pots in those holes (just needs a small screwdriver, I've read)



    It supposedly has three graphite strips in the neck for stability.


    It also has a 3-band EQ right on the face of the bass, which gives it a different look.



    The mute pops up when you push in the little lever.


    The bridge is very adjustable, including from the back of the bass (to adjust angle?).



    There's one screw broken off in a tuning peg, but with a very small screwdriver, I can turn what's in there.



    It has some other nicks and bruises, but that means I don't have to baby it too much. I will actually use it (I didn't buy it to make money, and am not sure in its condition I could, but hope I didn't overpay too much).

    Also, I brought it to a friend who soldered the battery connection wires and put some sort of shrink-sleeve stuff on, and it works perfectly with no crackling issues, now.


    1) Does anyone have one, and can measure the dimensions of the foam mute (so I can try to replicate it)? Good pictures and/or height of foam part of mute would be appreciated.

    2) What screw do I need to replace the missing/broken one on the D string tuning peg? Can anyone identify if Ovation just rebadged a popular brand of tuner (and if so, which), and does anyone have an idea how to get a replacement screw?

    3) Best bet for the missing screw on the EQ (near the treble slider)? Do I just go to my local TruValue Hardware and match it to the other one?

    4) Lastly, what year is it???? I can only find when they made these things, but no way to chart year of manufacture.


    Postscript - I put the case among others in my house behind a large table away from walkthrough traffic. The next day my wife came home, and the following day she said she'd notice the different color case and asked if I'd bought a new bass. Nothing gets by her.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 1, 2022
  2. Gunga Din

    Gunga Din

    Jun 22, 2018
    FFS, I wouldn't sweat all that! You've got one of my bucket-list basses there!
  3. Very cool!
  4. Congrats on your lovely "new" bass. May it serve you well.

    Ovation solids and basses are next to impossible to date, but yours was built somewhere between 1978 and 1983. My personal guess would be that it belongs somewhere in the earlier days in that range.

    Play it in good health and enjoy!
    6-3-2, Solarmist, scuzzy and 2 others like this.
  5. dabbler


    Aug 17, 2007
    Bowie, MD

    First off, you take great pics!

    I have never been an Ovation fan, but your post may have changed my position.

    Only suggestion I have on your questions, is yes, I would take one of the screws to a hardware store and look for a match.

    And your warning to new members is on point. I went from 1 bass, 1 combo amp to 75 basses 6 combo amps, 8 heads and 5 cabinets!
    Bleecker, WRM and Killing Floor like this.
  6. B-Mac

    B-Mac Happiness is a warm puppy and a great bass Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Might want to drop in here and ask your questions too
    Ovation Magnum Owners Unite!
    BarfanyShart likes this.
  7. blacktocomm

    blacktocomm Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2013
    West By God
    You can contact Ovation with your serial # and they’ll tell you the year it was manufactured. I have a Magnum 1 and did this to find out it’s a ‘79.
    Neo1 likes this.
  8. Swipter


    Sep 7, 2009
    Based on your post, I think your TB name may just a little off.

    Wow, but I can understand that because I have to stop myself.

    OP, Interesting looking bass. I have never heard of that one.
  9. creaturegods


    Sep 23, 2017
    I'm jealous!
    Cool bass, great price! Should be a fun project for you.

    The Magnums have always intrigued me ever since I saw some photos of Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth playing one. Great look, unique tone, lots of interesting onboard tone-shaping options.

    If someone had initially told me "This is the bass that Journey used on a lot of their hits," that might have turned me off because I think that bass tone is especially bad :roflmao:

    Congrats, enjoy it! Rare to see those cases in good shape as well - The plastic shells seem pretty brittle, as I've seen quite a few Ovation cases with cracks or chips in them.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2022
  10. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    I like it, looks to be in relatively nice shape overall. 'Grats.

    I like that Ovation tended to "overbuild" their early flagship guitars, a lotta design and engineering went into those Magnums. I always wanted one, despite their weight. One of those bucket list items that I'd likely never actually use, but admire enough to still "want".
    instrumentalist and ajkula66 like this.
  11. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    Those tuners look a lot like Grover. Possible rebranding/licensing?
    Durham52 likes this.
  12. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    i have not much to add besides what I always mention when this bass pops up:

    a fairly expensive recording studio here on long island keeps one of these as, last i checked, the only bass in his inventory. this is a guy with many drum kits, hammond b-3 with two (!) leslies, more guitars than we can count, all the amps you could ever think of, it's all there.

    but he's always like "this bass just always works. i'd buy more if i needed 'em but i dont."

    I used it on a rock album years ago for some songs. it's a seriously good sounding and practical bass, despite seeming quite unusual.

    they're not "p bass" popular, but whenever they come up (as your learning in this thread) they get a ton of love. very very cool instrument indeed.

    enjoy it!
  13. knigel


    Apr 20, 2009
    I'm the Squier of Fenderbirds
    Sweet Ovation. Those tuners look like Grover Titans, but aren't quite--the screw from one might work though? It's close!

    Enjoy it!
  14. svlilioukalani

    svlilioukalani Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2012
    Seattle, Wa
    Awsome bass!!!
  15. Spupilup


    Jan 11, 2019
    New England
    The first time I became aware of the Magnum was when I saw Magazine around 1980. Barry Adamson, an amazing artist with a long list of collaborations in the UK, used one and I loved his bass playing in what was one of my favorite bands back then. It was a several years later when I saw Kim Gordon playing one.
    ajkula66 likes this.
  16. Nice bass. The screw you need for the tuner is called a truss head screw. You can use one of the other ones to determine the thread pitch and length. It may not be a Home Depot type thing. You might have to try an industrial hardware store or someplace like the McMaster-Carr website. The other one looks like a flat blade, flathead or ovalhead screw. Again, you should be able to use the one next to it to figure out the thread pitch and bolt length. Be aware that whatever part of the eq circuit those screws are holding up may drop down in the control cavity if you remove the other.
    Wasnex and Wannabass like this.
  17. Thanks for the specific responses. And astute thinking about what might drop (I had thought about that already, and was planning on carefully taking off the plate, or somehow tying up the sliders?).
  18. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2003
    Astoria, NY
    Congrats on getting a bass truly ahead of its time. A 3 piece neck with graphite stiffeners. The screws that raise/lower the bridge are cut such that one complete turn equals 1/64" change in height. And on yours and mine, the graphic EQ is designed so that any boost/cut will not change the volume. Just a few of the details thought through. I have a Magnum IV and I think it's amazing. These basses are badass and I'm really glad I have one! You will enjoy it!!
    creaturegods and Neo1 like this.
  19. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    i've got a Magnum III. I love it, but it's a unique beast. As far as getting a set date of manufacture.....good luck. Kramer offered me no information, and the current ovation company had nothing to do with that bass.

    They dub and grind like no other, though.
  20. neddyrow

    neddyrow www.simmerinstew.com Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2011
    Cortland, NY
    Nice find! I've always hated Ovation acoustic guitars as they had a plastic "bowl" for a body. I didn't know Ovation was capable of making such awesome instruments like that. I never thought I'd be jealous of an Ovation.