1968 Ovation Hurricane


Electric guitars were big business in the 1960s – so big that manufacturers who had built their names on all sorts of gear got into the electric market. In the second half of the decade, Martin, Ampeg, Wurlitzer and Kustom – acoustic guitar builders, amp builders, and jack-of-all-trades distributors – all built or sold electric guitars with their names on the headstock. Some companies tooled up to produce their own original designs, while others sourced guitars from factories already equipped to build them.

Ovation took a third route: purchasing German-built bodies and marrying them to Ovation-built necks, then incorporating hardware sourced from a variety of manufacturers. The resulting electric guitars, called the Electric Storm series, consequently played much like Ovation’s acoustic guitars but sounded relatively unique. A number of models were built between 1968 and 1973, mostly 6-string guitars and 4-string basses. The one exception was the 12-string Hurricane.

The mid 1960s saw a huge surge of popularity in electric 12-strings. Seemingly overnight in 1964, the only major producer of them – Rickenbacker – was transformed from a has-been builder of lap steels into the hottest brand name on the market. Most major guitar builders had their own competing products on the market by 1966, but by that point the craze had peaked and the jangle of folk-rock was soon to give way to distorted 6-string blues. Thus, when Ovation released a 12-string among its new electric lineup in June of 1968, the prospects for its commercial success were already fleeting.

Like the rest of the Electric Storm series, the Hurricane was a solid if not exceptional guitar. The Hofner body (incidentally, the same body used on my Typhoon V bass) was made of laminated maple and finished with a thick glossy coat that tends to check heavily as it ages; this guitar is unusual in being mostly free from heavy checking. It was catalogued in sunburst, green and red, and each color was given its own model number à la Gretsch (this red example is model K-1122). The neck has a moderately slim profile that is easy to play. The guitar is all original and in very clean condition.