Ovation Custom Legend repair

This guitar has come a long way for me to repair…all the way from China, in fact!

The owner didn’t feel as though he wanted the guitar to be locally repaired and was considering perhaps sending the Ovation repair to the US.

However, he opted to bring the guitar home to Australia when he visited at Christmas time and then brought it to me. It has taken me a while to get to it but the repair is now underway…

The guitar had developed a major split in the top, most likely as a result of being in a low humidity environment for some years.

The crack had opened slightly but I felt that it should be possible to close the gap once the guitar had reacclimatised to a more “normal” environment.

The first step had to be to remove the plastic rosette…

…which is a moulded plastic item with abalone shell pieced in behind. A spatula could be inserted under the rosette but of course, some of the abalone shell remained stuck to the top of the guitar- some of which could be easily removed, some not so much. The missing pieces were reglued and I had to patch the missing segments.

Some of the neck binding was also coming away and I reglued it back where it belonged.

To gain clear access to the insides of the guitar, the complex pickup system would also need to be removed…

…and with the bridge also removed and with all the wires out of the way, I can see that the split can in fact, be closed up. I have carefully closed the split with various clamps across the face of the guitar, while aligning the split with some bridge clamps.

The split can be seen in the above photo, in the mirror image on the right.

And being happy that the gap can be successfully closed, I’ve applied lots of glue…

…and rubbed it into the split, wiped off the excess and re-fitted the clamps.

Allowing sufficient time for the glue to harden, the clamps were removed and the alignment of the crack looks to be good. The smudgy appearance is where the excess glue was wiped off.

Next, the join has to be reinforced and I’ll do that with a substantial length of spruce with the grain running at 90 degrees to the grain direction of the top.

Again, I’ve dry clamped the reinforcing strip in place before applying any glue.

When I’m satisfied that everything is as it needs to be, glue is applied, the strip carefully put in place and the clamps re-applied.

I’ve left the inspection light and mirror inside the guitar body so that I can check that the clamps are appropriately placed and that I can see a small amount of glue squeeze-out letting me know that all is ok.

When the glue has dried, I can remove the clamps and the reinforcing strip is just where it needs to be.

There’s always going to be a degree of filling required…

…and I do that while I’m sanding the top ready for refinishing.

I notice that the binding around the end of the fret board is missing and I’ll replace that.

I’ve taped a length of binding in place and shaped it using the heat gun before gluing it in place.

The fret board and bridge position are masked up and the top is sprayed with a number of coats of clear sealer, rubbing back in between coats.

The colour is sprayed, rubbing back between coats

After allowing the paint to harden for a suitable period, the top is repolished.

The bridge is then reglued in place.

The rosette is reglued, the bridge bolt inlays are put in place and the electronics can now be reinstalled.


On reinstalling the electronics into the Ovation, there was no signal between the pickup and the preamp. The cause soon became apparent…the hot wire had broken out of the innards of the pickup, and with no chance of disassembly for repair.

Of course, there isn’t a replacement pickup available anywhere in the country…

However, the Ovation distributer- Australis Music- and particularly Randy, has located a replacement pickup and now everything has fallen into place.

Come Sunday, in the care of Alastair’s mum, the Ovation is on its way back to China…