Ovation Guitars to Cease Production in Connecticut

Apr 23, 2014

Connecticut's historic Ovation guitars will no longer be made in the state. The New Hartford factory will close this summer.

Ovation's Celebrity Standard guitar has a koa top.
Credit Ovation Guitars

Ovation has been a icon in guitar-making for almost a half-century. The Connecticut manufacturing plant made instruments for the likes of Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, and Glen Campbell. "I think it's a sad moment," said Connecticut music journalist John Thomas.

Ovation was a great innovator. Begun by aerospace pioneer Charles Kaman, the company made some of its guitars from the same material as helicopter rotor blades.

"The company used those materials to form these round backed guitars," Thomas said, "that were revolutionary at the time. [They were] more comfortable some ways, in playing, and also just looked kinda cool, so stage musicians started using it."

Even more significant, Ovation was the first company to use electronics to amplify acoustic instruments. "You could play an acoustic guitar as part of electric band," Thomas said, "and still be heard over the drums, and the electric bass, and the electric guitar that might be playing beside you."

Kaman split up its aerospace and music divisions in 2007, and sold Ovation to another guitar legend, Fender. Now Fender says that U.S. production of the brand will cease in June.

Fender will continue to make Ovations overseas, but said current market conditions and insufficient volume levels led to the decision to close New Hartford. Forty-six workers will lose their jobs.