Ovation Guitars to Cease Domestic Production
The curtain is closing on Ovation’s made-in-the-USA line of acoustic guitars, as parent company Fender Musical Instruments today announced the closing of the brand’s longtime domestic manufacturing facility in New Hartford, Connecticut.
Citing “current market conditions and insufficient volume levels,” Fender officials released a statement saying production would cease in New Hartford by June, affecting 46 employees. The company’s Fender and Guild lines of acoustic guitars, which are also crafted at the Connecticut site, “will transition to other facilities at a later date,” continued the statement.
Ovation guitars, however, will continue to be built outside the U.S.; the brand has production locations in China, South Korea and Indonesia.
The first Ovation guitars were introduced in the mid-1960s by Charles Kaman, a former helicopter designer and amateur guitarist who pioneered a synthetic acoustic guitar body--with rounded back and sides and multiple sound holes near the neck--that he felt could produce a richer sound. The initial line of Ovations were popularized by country singer Glen Campbell and blues guitarist Josh White; eventually, Kaman’s guitars found their way into the hands of a who’s who of popular acoustic guitar performers—including Robert Fripp, Melissa Etheridge, Paul Simon, Kaki King, Bob Marley and Roy Clark, among others.
Fender acquired the Kaman Musical Corporation in 2008. Charles Kaman passed away at age 91 in 2011.