Ovation Guitars To Resume Production!
Ovation had been making guitars for almost 50 years. Such greats as Glen Campbell, Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Eddie Van Halen, John Denver and Melissa Etheridge have all played and recorded Ovations. This author is quite fond of the Adamas 12-string models that Melissa reintroduced him to several years ago. But all of that was about to change.
Fender had purchased Ovation and, as is their M.O., closed down the factory down in June of 2014, in favor of the lower costs of Chinese production. More than 40 workers were fired and much of the equipment was sold at auction. Similar moves were done to Tacoma Guitars, for example, and resulted in the entire line becoming extinct, the Tacoma facilities rebranded to produce another kind of guitar. It seemed like Ovations would be limited to those lesser instruments fabricated in Asia. But there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Ovation Guitars has recently announced that they’ve renewed the lease on their Connecticut factory space and is resuming production of their US-made instruments. It will be in a much smaller part of the factory, and the staff will have to build some of the equipment sold off after the factory was closed, but American-made Ovations are back. In a time when guitar manufacturers seem to be dropping (read: being consumed by Fender) like flies, this is refreshing and welcome news. The down side is that it will not be the same old Ovation.
Standards like the Balladeer, Legend and Elite will now be made abroad along with the Celebrity/Applause line. Only the most expensive of guitars will be made by a staff of just four people, in New Hartford. Since they’ve announced that the guitars will cost between $3,000 and $5,000 each, it seems reasonable to assume the factory will be producing only the Adamas line, and at a higher price that ever before. That may price these impressive guitars well beyond the means of previous customers.
How did such a miraculous turn-about occur? Through the efforts of four previous employees, including Darren Wallace, who kept the equipment in Connecticut intact and ready for production, though they were no longer on the payroll. When the new owner and his CEO, Chris Lombardi, saw the efforts of these four dedicated people, they decided to reopen the factory and allow them to do what they do best. Who wouldn’t be moved by such dedication?
Mr. Wallace and the three other faithful former employees working under his direction have begun making prototypes and expect to resume production this month. Another landmark for this phoenix will be the company’s 50th anniversary editions for next year’s Ovation milestone. We’re very much looking forward to being able to review them for you soon!