I've got an Ovation and I love it. You get a lot of guitar your money and although they've fallen a little out of fashion over the years, for me it's my "Go to" guitar, (and that's over a Guild and a Takamine!). Some people have a problem with the bowlback claiming that they have difficulty with the guitar moving around while you're trying to play it but I've never experienced it.
Ovations are renowned for their playability and have a lovely light neck, mine has a superb really fast action, (you can sort this yourself as the bridge height is adjustable using shims under the bridge). Tone and projection is good and is what Ovation is all about, Charles Kaman, the guy who designed them was an aircraft engineer who studied sonics and vibration, and that's what the bowlback is all about.
Machine heads are sealed Grover types, although with Ovation stamped on them, and as you'd expect from Ovation are pretty much faultless. Mine holds its tune better than any guitar I've owned in the last 30 years.
On board electrics are excellent.
For live use I'd avoid the shallow bowl and go for either a medium or deep bowlback for better projection.
As for price, unless cost is a real issue I wouldn't bother with an Applause and as with all other US makers the guitars build overseas are cheaper than the US built models. It would be a big mistake to discount the overseas built guitars, as with Fender, Guild and any of the other US manufacturers the quality control overseas is exceptional and I think avoidance of non US built guitars is more down to snobbery than quality.
I'd definately recommend trying one, I think you'll be surprised at how good they are for the money.
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