Ovation DJA34 Bone Yard
Don't get us wrong: we've always got time for a 'textbook' acoustic guitar. But just sometimes, you do find yourself wishing the repetition of all those natural spruce tops would be broken by a model with a graphic of a half-cut olive/devil stripper dancing on a pile of scorched human skulls. Call off the search.
The Ovation DJA34 Bone Yard is part of Ovation's Demented Series, created alongside DJ Ashba (who, despite his initials, is not a vinyl-scratcher but the latest guitarist for Guns N' Roses).]
"Plugged in, the DJA34 will be whatever you want it to be, from a lazy strummer to a brittle lead machine."
It has undeniable visual clout, but its performance could be more contentious, due to the love-it/hate-it bowl body that's been Ovation's calling card since 1966.
Bowlbacks are a breed apart. By equipping the Bone Yard with a mid-depth body and cutaway spruce top, Ovation has improved the 'lap-slide' factor and limited access that used to make this format so infuriating, but it remains a bulky beast that works best on a strap.
It's a little frustrating to see cosmetics valued above playability on the rosewood fretboard - the 'tapered' effect means we've only got a measly 18 frets on the low string - and it has to be said that our review Bone Yard makes fretting notes over a long practice session feel like hard work. This is most likely due to our review guitar's action, but it's worth noting for acoustic first-timers.
Tone is the divisive factor when it comes to Ovations. First off, don't let the Bone Yard's lack of a central soundhole fool you into thinking it hasn't got power: there's plenty of body space, and a room-filling sonic kick even before the amp gets involved.
Bowlback naysayers complain Lyrachord doesn't have the warmth of, say, solid mahogany, and they're right: it's a bit more glassy, a bit more high-endy, altogether less organic than the traditional format. That's not a bad thing, because it gives keen definition to finger-picked runs that might otherwise turn soupy, but digging in with a pick can push the shimmer too far.
Still, that's what the preamp is there for. The piezo pickup is faithful, but with a three-band EQ, you can sculpt the tone to your taste, ironing out some of the high end and fattening the bass until you've achieved a genuinely mellow voice.
On every level, it's fair to say the Bone Yard isn't for everyone. We think the finish is cool; others may find it embarrassing. We got on pretty well with the physical performance; others might find it a challenge.
Similarly, while the raw, jangle-tastic tone appeals to us, it will sound a little jarring to some ears. But here's the point: once this guitar is plugged in, it will be whatever you want it to be, from a lazy strummer to a brittle Django Reinhardt lead machine.
Keen tone. Interesting finish. Unique vibe.
It's hefty and not as warm as wood.
By no means a done deal, but with a price tag of £350, it's certainly worthy of investigation - and given the limited run, you'll need to move fast.
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.
Bone Yard (3 other finishes available also, see website for details)
Mid-depth cutaway bowl and spruce top
No. of Frets
OP4BT preamp: 3-band EQ, Gain, Tuner