Fender owns the Ovation guitar brand, originally brought into being by Charles Kaman, hence Kaman corporation (sold to Fender in 2007).
Anyway, the New Hartford Ovation guitar factory is closing down, so that literally means there will never be another USA-made Ovation guitar made ever again. Yes, the brand will live on, but all the guitars will be made in China, South Korea and Indonesia.
Did Fender totally botch up Ovation?
The Ovation brand is not what comes to mind when you think of acoustic guitars, which is what the brand is (or should I say was) known for. When you think of "acoustic guitar", you think of Martin, Takamine, Yamaha and maybe Washburn. But not Ovation.
A typical reaction when you mention Ovation to a guitar player is, "Oh? I didn't think they were still made." Yeah, it's that bad. The Ovation brand was barely noticeable in Fender's lineup.
Yes, it does totally suck that yet another factory had to close down - especially one from my home state of Connecticut. And eliminating 50 jobs in this economy doesn't exactly make Fender look rosy, so to speak.
If there's anything to be said where Fender messed up, it's they probably simply didn't know what to do with Ovation after they got it.
Fender will most likely continue to clean up shop
I see Fender as the General Motors of guitars that's basically doing the same thing GM did when they dumped Saab, Saturn, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Hummer, Saab and whatever other brands they nixed - except that Fender is doing it real slow with their brands.
In 2002, Fender dumped Sunn and discontinued production. In 2013, they did the same with Hamer guitars. At some point in the 2000s, Fender dumped Tacoma acoustic guitars. All of these were smart decisions...
...but more needs to be done.
A Fender brand that I don't even know why it still exists is Charvel. There are barely any regular-run models available and that brand almost exclusively operates as a custom shop. They might as well totally operate as a custom shop and dump all the regular-run guitars altogether.
Jackson is another Fender brand that needs to go away or be scaled down to being only a custom shop.
Fender as far as I'm concerned just needs to dump any non-performing brand they have from regular production. Just get rid of the regular-run models and scale back a few brands to being just custom shops.
If that's what it takes to keep Fender around, I'm all for it.
Just for fun, I wanted to find out what the absolute lowest-priced Fender branded guitar was. It's a ukulele. Specifically, the Fender Ukulele U'Uku Soprano. It's well under the $150 price point and anyone can afford it.
Anyway, yes, the under-$150 new Fender guitar exists. It's a uke. Now you can finally buy a Fender and still be able to pay the rent. :)
Oh, one more thing. If you want a uke that "looks more Fendery", see the Fender Mino'Aka. It has a Telecaster-style pegboard on it. It's also under $150.
Here are some of my thoughts on how blogging is these days.