The Ovation Breadwinner
(Solid body electric guitar, mahogany)
|Manufacturer||Ovation Guitar Company|
|Pickup(s)||S-S or H-H|
The Breadwinner was a solid body electric guitar made by the Ovation Guitar Company. It is one of the few solid body electrics they ever made, and it was the first mass-produced American guitar to have active electronics. It has an unusual ergonomic body made of mahogany and shaped something like an axe, although that is not the only reason for the body shape, the designer also used considerations of balance and ergonomics.  The guitar has either 2 toroidal single-pole pickups (early models) or 2 mini-humbucker pickups, volume and tone knobs, and a three way pickup selector and a phase switch.
There were 3 distinct models based upon the Breadwinner's exotic shape - the Breadwinner, the Deacon, and the Breadwinner Limited. The main difference between the Breadwinner and the Breadwinner Limited was an odd additional cutaway in the upper body and a "Tuxedo" gray to black finish. The difference between the Breadwinner and the Deacon was in the finish and hardware used. The Breadwinners were coated in Kaman Industries' "LyraChord" material and were available in a number of colors including Blue, White, Black, Tan, Gray, and Red while the Deacon was available in either Natural Sunburst, Clear Mahogany, or a clear Red finish - all three were glossy. The Deacon also had Mother of Pearl diamond-shaped inlays and an ivory binding around the fretboard.
Early models were equipped with Ovation's toroidal single pole pickups while later models were equipped with humbuckers. Most collector / players prefer the sound of the original toroidal pickups.
Regardless of the model, the guitar was one of the first to come equipped with an active FET preamp on board. The active electronics allowed guitarists to get a very wide range of sounds out of the guitar. In fact, Ovation published a guide to sounds where they listed various band and song "signature" sounds and the settings to use to achieve those sounds with the guitar's electronics.
The white version of the Breadwinner was used by Björn Ulvaeus (ABBA) on their 1977 tour through Europe and Australia. On the original back cover of the 1980 album Panorama by The Cars, keyboardist Greg Hawkes can be seen holding a black version of the Breadwinner (as a prop for the photo, in which all of the band members are holding electric guitars).
- André Millard, ed. (2004). The Electric Guitar: A History of an American Icon. JHU. p. 172. ISBN 9780801878626.
- "Interview with Mike, the designer of the breadwinner". Breadwinnner Fan Page.