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The story of Ovation guitars-and the ground-breaking technology behind them-begins with Charles H. Kaman, an aeronautical engineer known for his pioneering work in helicopter and aerospace design.In 1945, Charles Kaman founded Kaman Aircraft, and in 1947 his company developed a radical helicopter that used inter-meshing rotors and Kaman's patented servo-flap control. In 1951, Kaman built the world's first gas turbine helicopter-an innovative aircraft now at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.Through intense research and development, Kamans engineers made discoveries about the physics of vibration and acoustics- critical factors in the design and fabrication of helicopter rotor blades, missile nose cones, and other aerospace components exposed to high vibrational stress. After achieving many aviation firsts and setting world records with his helicopters, Charles Kaman-himself a dedicated guitar enthusiast-decided his aerospace division should apply its technology and know-how to the centuries-old art of guitar making.
On the banks of the Farmington River in new Hartford, Connecticut, there’s an old New England brick building that was home to Ovation Instruments and of course, the original acoustic roundback guitars. Ovation was a subsidiary of the Kaman Corporation, an aerospace company employing more than 2,700 employees, where more than 25% were scientists, engineers and technicians. Charles Kaman, the President and a guitar enthusiast, decided that his company could apply its technology to the age-old art of guitar making. In 1966, after 18 months of testing and research, the Kaman engineers concluded that the most efficient shape for a guitar back is semi-parabolic (like that of an orchestra shell, amphitheater, radar reflector or even the human ear). The sound such a shape produced from any given energy input was, they found, measurably richer, fuller, deeper and more constant from top to bottom of the scale. To develop material free of such characteristic disadvantages, Kaman’s engineers first made acoustical studies of many of the exceedingly strong yet lightweight laminar substances they had perfected for use in aircraft rotors, fairings, radomes, missile nose cones and other aerospace components often exposed to high vibrational stress. Encouraged by what they found in these studies, and using them as a base, they then developed and tested many new materials. Finally they found one, the molecular structure of which actually could be “tuned” (chemically and by heat treating) to a precise degree of resonance. We Call It Lyrachord®
Bloomfield, CT
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