Applause Deluxe AE147
Not so long ago, no self-respecting player would buy an acoustic made in China. They might have been super-cheap, but quality was at best iffy, at worst diabolical.
Little wonder that the country's manufacturing niche was restricted to the sub-£100 category.
Times change, however, and in the pursuit of lower costs Ovation have moved production to China former budget bastion Korea.
Thanks to supervised operations by the manufacturer quality and materials have improved immeasurably making a £300 Chinese-made electro a worthwhile prospect.
And that's exactly what we have here in the Applause Deluxe AE147 (Applause being Ovation's budget arm).
The AE147 occupies top slot in the Applause series, the 'Deluxe' tag denoting Elite-style multi-hole epaulettes rather than a centre soundhole.
The raised, wood epaulettes sit on a multi-ply-bound, black-lacquered top of X-braced laminated spruce, with the bridge rear-strung in the usual Ovation manner.
The fibreglass bowl is the medium-depth variety, which is by far the company's most popular option these days.
It should be noted however, that this still means a pretty portly body, some 135mm deep at the apex of the bowl.
The guitar comes with two strap buttons, which is good to find. The intermediate-scale neck – sprayed up in a matching black lacquer – is an ideal strumming companion.
It's slim and shallow, allowing slick, compact chord work, made even more effortless by our sample's slinky action.
The black vibe is contrasted by white fretboard binding, while the cutaway provides decent access to the full 23-fret range.
Ovation has made impressive strides in giving its pricier models more versatile sounds, but we have to say that this Applause harks back to an archetypal bowlback personality.
Though well balanced and sustainful, the acoustic texture is on the light side and is underlaid with that telltale faintly wiry, metallic edge.
Within that caveat, the guitar's OP4B system does a surefooted job.
It's a cinch to work with – three centre-notched EQ sliders and a rotary volume – and delivers a healthy dollop of clear-voiced gain, while pickup output was spot-on.
The preamp is mostly effective for accentuating or veiling the guitar's unplugged characteristics.
However if you prefer to do the latter, some that bowlback personality is pretty much ever-present, short of killing the treble band altogether.
Very much a horses for courses sound, we feel.
There is virtually nothing to complain about as far as materials, construction and cosmetic detailing on the AE147 are concerned.
The standards of presentation are something that, even as little as five or six years ago, Chinese factories by and large simply wouldn't have been capable of.
This quality isn't skin-deep either. Look inside and generally they're as clean as a whistle.
Soundwise however the Applause doesn't deceive that it's anything other than a bowlback.
That said, it performs well within its own genre and if that's your kind of sound, go for it with confidence.
Slick, slim neck. Simple yet effective preamp. Two strap buttons.
This is a bowlback that sounds like a bowlback.
Chances are you'll already know if you like the sound of bowlback acoustics, if you do, this is a decent budget option.
Bass Gain Middle Treble
Cutaway bowlback electro-acoustic
Country of Origin
White Bound Rosewood
Max Bowl Depth
No of Strings
No. of Frets
Mid-depth round-soundhole AE127 with OP4B/ Natural finish also available
Ovation Slimline under-saddle
Scale Length (mm)
Width at Nut (mm)