Ovation’s Electric Storm Series of archtop guitars and basses (Thunderhead, Hurricane and Tornado guitars and Typhoon/Williwaw bass) were fitted with four different pickups, three of these with dimensionally different Neck and Bridge versions.  One other pickup type was produced for the Jerry Reed and Glen Campbell guitars.  The black plastic pickup bezels appear identical for all of these pickups, with a decorative ridge reminiscent of some Hofner pickup bezels.  See Non-DeArmond products.  The general consensus is that these pickups were all manufactured by DeArmond, perhaps based on the appearance of the Thunderhead guitar pickup (3rd photo below) which is quite similar to the DeArmond Model 2000 (Dynasonic) pickup.  Correspondence received from Kaman Music Corporation confirms DeArmond as manufacturer of at least some of these pickups.

The three photos above show two different examples of Ovation’s Thunderhead guitar.  This model is fitted with two pickups which employ the same type of offset height-adjustment screws as used in the DeArmond Model 2000 pickup.  The height-adjustment screws are located in the same position in both pickups, but the pole-pieces’ centres are different for the neck and bridge pickups.  This spacing difference is most apparent in the right-hand photo. The pickups are installed so that the poles are facing outwards and as these pickups are fixed to the bezel with three screws, each pickup can be easily identified (Left-hand and centre photos copyright Guitar Tree, Phoenix, Arizona.  Right-hand photo copyright Dan Wyatt).

The pickup shown in the third photo above was covered by U.S. Patent No. 3,535,968 dated October 1970.

This ‘six-pole and blade’ pickup was used in the Tornado Eclipse. Only one version of this pickup was installed in both Bridge and Neck positions.  Hofner used a guitar pickup very similar in outward appearance to this one in some of their guitars.  See the section ‘Non-DeAmond products‘ for more details.

This ‘twelve-pole and two-slot’ pickup was used in the Model Hurricane 12-string guitar. The outer pole-pieces are centred on the edges of the two slots, making this the bridge version.

The outer pole-pieces are closer together than on the above pickup, which would suggest that this pickup should be fitted at the neck, and not at the bridge where shown.

The two pickups shown here – neck and bridge – mistakenly have the same pole-piece spacing, in the Model Hurricane 12-string guitar.  The slight difference in the pole-piece spacings between both pickups makes this an easy mistake to make.

Although not in the ‘Electric Storm’ range, the pickup shown is fitted in the Ovation Jerry Reed and Glen Campbell model guitars.  It appears to be a Thunderhead pickup housing without visible pole-pieces.  These two models were not regular production models.

Bass Pickups:

The Typhoon bass used two pickups, each with eight poles and two slots.
The difference in pole-piece spacing between the bridge and neck pickups.


In 1969 or perhaps 1968, Innovex, a division of The Hammond Organ Company, in co-operation with Kaman Music Corporation, produced what may have been the world’s first guitar synthesiser – The Condor GSM (Guitar Sound Modulator).  This comprised a Tornado guitar with Condor on the headstock and a bridge-mounted transducer.  The guitar also has two Ovation 12-pole 2-slot chrome pickups with normal volume and tone controls.  See photos below.

Frank Zappa is said to have used this instrument on his album ‘Chunga’s Revenge’, first released in 1970.

The left-hand photo above shows the transducer with cover removed and removable plug visible.  The right-hand photo shows the pickup cover attached.

The left-hand photo above shows the guitar’s Condor-branded headstock.  The right-hand photo shows the synthesiser’s controller.

(The above four photos above are copyright Wayne Reid).