Ovation Breadwinner

The Ovation Breadwinner guitar was the World’s first guitar with active pickups. It was only manufactured for three years but is a unique and innovative instrument that gained popularity in the 1970s for its futuristic design, advanced features, and distinctive tone. My instrument of choice!

Designed by legendary luthier Charles Kaman, the Breadwinner stands out with its radical shape, ergonomic contours, and unconventional materials.

Ovation Breadwinner Specifications

One of the most notable features of the Ovation Breadwinner is its composite Lyrachord body construction, which consists of a fiberglass top and back with a solid wood center block. This construction not only provides the guitar with excellent durability and resistance to temperature and humidity changes but also contributes to its distinctive tone characterized by bright highs, balanced mids, and pronounced sustain.

The Breadwinner comes equipped with a pair of single-coil pickups, offering a wide range of tonal possibilities from clean and crisp to gritty and overdriven. In the manual it describes them as Fender or Gibson tones but I only use one setting for lead, then go active for rhythm. The guitar's unique pickup configuration, combined with its innovative wiring and tone controls, allows players to explore a variety of sonic textures suitable for rock, blues, funk, and more.

Ovation Breadwinner Features

In addition to its striking appearance and versatile tone, the Ovation Breadwinner features a comfortable neck profile with a fast-playing fretboard, making it suitable for both rhythm and lead playing styles. Other notable features include a through-body string arrangement for improved resonance and tuning stability, as well as high-quality hardware for reliable performance.


Though production of the Ovation Breadwinner ceased in the late 1970s, it remains a coveted instrument among collectors and enthusiasts. There’s even a tribute version from Chapman guitars so I know what to buy if mine gets stolen and I can’t find a replacement on Reverb.com Notable guitarists who have wielded the Breadwinner include Al Di Meola, Roy Wood from Wizzard/The Move, and Benny Sutton.

Check out the video too...