The UK II (also written UK 2) is a uniquely constructed solidbody electric guitar made by Ovation. In the late 1970s, the company began work on an electric with some of the same innovations found in its acoustic models, such as composite construction, and brand new enhancements designed specifically for the electric world. Several prototypes were made, incorporating pieces of Ovation's existing Viper and Preacher lines. The guitars were built in the Kaman facility in Moosup, Connecticut, USA, starting in 1979 (some sources say 1980) and ending in 1983.
The body of the UK II looks similar to a standard Gibson Les Paul, but is composed of a cast aluminum frame surrounded by a shell of Urelite, a dense polyurethane foam also used in the necks of some of Ovation's acoustic guitars. The UK's two-octave wooden neck is glued to the plastic body and also bolted to the frame, for maximum sustain. The two humbucking pickups, with no fewer than 10,000 winds, were said in the 1980s to be the highest-output and quietest models on the market. The design includes non-magnetic, blade-style pole pieces, and coil tap switches to change the phase and produce a more Stratocaster-like sound. With even further attention to detail, the Ovation designers shielded the body cavities with non-conductive paint, and adjusted the taper on the volume and tone controls in exact proportion to the number markings.
Oddly enough, Ovation's marketing campaign omitted most of the information about the guitar's inner workings, instead pitting the guitar directly against its more conventional rivals (e.g. the Les Paul). Some famous musicians adopted the UK II – notably Steve Hackett of Genesis and Neil Schon of Santana and Journey – helped in some cases by the factory's own promotion department. Unfortunately, most guitar buyers failed to follow suit, and production ended after only four years.
Soundwise, this odd duck throws out some of the loudest and hottest tones of any guitar, with those outstanding humbuckers and the additional stereo outputs. Unlike some of Ovation's more extreme efforts (the Breadwinner, say), it combines a conventional shape with surprising light weight and durability, thanks to its composite guts. Today, the UK II still draws acclaim from the few who know about its remarkable features, but a used example usually fetches less than the original US$650 price tag.
Model Number: ?
Scale: 24.75", 24 frets
Pickups: 2 Ovation-designed blade humbuckers
Hardware: Gold plated: Schaller sealed tuners, brass Schaller bridge, brass nut
Controls: 2 volume knobs, 2 tone knobs, 3-position pickup selector, coil tap on both pickups
Outputs: 1 mono, 1 stereo
Production: 1980? to 1983. No official production numbers; total run estimated at 2000-3000.
Sources: www.ovationfanclub.com, and Miles Baron's Ovation page at www.baronaudio.com/collection/ .