AMPEG/DAN ARMSTRONG AMPEG
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AMPEG/DAN ARMSTRONG AMPEG
See also Armstrong, Dan. Instruments previously built in the U.S. from the early 1960s through the early 1970s, and again between 1997 and 2001 also previously produced in Japan between 2005 and 2011. Burns by Ampeg instruments were imported from Britain between 1963 and 1964. Some Ampeg AEB-1 style models with magnetic pickups were built in Japan, and distributed by both Ampeg and Selmer (circa 1970s). Currently distributed by LOUD Technologies in Woodinville, WA, since 2005. Previously distributed by St. Louis Music, Inc. of St. Louis, MO, until 2005.
The Ampeg company was founded in late 1940s by Everett Hull and Jess Oliver. While this company is perhaps better known for its B-15 "flip top" Portaflex or SVT bass amplifiers, the company did build various electric guitar and bass designs during the 1960s. As both Hull and Oliver came from jazz music traditions (and were musicians), the first Ampeg bass offered was an electric upright-styled Baby Bass. Constructed of fiberglass bodies and wood necks, a forerunner to the Baby Bass was produced by the Dopyera Brothers (See DOBRO and VALCO) as an electric pickup-equipped upright mini-bass under the Zorko trademark. In 1962, Everett Hull from Ampeg acquired the rights to the design. Hull and others improved the design, and Jess Oliver devised a new "diaphragm-style" pickup.
During the early 1960s, Ampeg imported Burns-built electric guitars and basses from England. Burns instruments had been available in the U.S. market under their own trademark prior to the distribution deal. Five models were briefly distributed by Ampeg, and bear the Ampeg by Burns of London designation on the pickguard.
With the relative success of the Ampeg electric upright and their tube bass amps among jazz and studio musicians, Ampeg launched their first production solidbody electric bass in 1966. Named the AEB-1 (Ampeg Electric Bass), this model was designed by Dennis Kager. Ampeg also offered the AUB-1 (Ampeg Unfretted Bass) in late 1966. Conversely, the Fender Instrument company did not release a fretless model until 1970, and even then Fender's first model was a fretless Precision (which is ironic considering the name and Leo Fender's design intention back in 1951). Both instruments featured the Ampeg scroll headstock, and a pair of f-holes that were designed through the body. A third model, the ASB-1/AUSB-1, was designed by Mike Roman.
Both the fretted and fretless models feature exaggerated body horns, which have been nicknamed "devil horns" by vintage guitar collectors.
In 1966, Jess Oliver left Ampeg to form Oliver Sound, and released a number of his own musical products, and Everett Hull sold the Ampeg company to a group of investors in 1967. Unimusic, lead by Al Dauray, John Forbes, and Ray Mucci, continued to offer the inventively shaped Ampeg basses through 1970. Ampeg introduced the SVT bass amplifier and V-4 guitar amp stack in 1968, again making their mark in the music business.
In 1969, luthier/designer Dan Armstrong devised a guitar that had a wood neck and a plastic lucite body. The purpose of the lucite was to increase sustain, and was not intended as a gimmick. Nevertheless, the guitars and basses gained the nickname see-through, and were produced from 1969 to 1971. The instruments featured formica pickguards that read Dan Armstrong Ampeg and clear acrylic bodies (although a small number were cast in black acrylic as well).
Ampeg continued to offer guitars and basses during the mid-1970s. The Stud series of guitar and bass models were produced in Asia. In the late 1970s, Ampeg teamed up with the Swedish Hagstrom company to design an early guitar synthesizer. Dubbed the Patch 2000, the system consisted of a guitar and a footpedal-controlled box which generated the synthesizer sounds. While advertising included both guitar and bass models, it is unlikely that any of the bass systems ever got beyond the prototype stage.
In 1997, Ampeg released a number of updated designs and reissue models. Both the AEB-2 and AUB-2 combine modern pickup design and construction with the looks of their 1960s counterparts, the Baby Bass was re-introduced, and even the Dan Armstrong-approved Lucite guitars were reproduced. The first wave of reissues lasted through 2002. In 2005, LOUD Technologies of Woodenville, WA purchased St. Louis Music, and along with this acquisition came the Ampeg, Alvarez, and Crate brands. In 2006, Ampeg reintroduced the Dan Armstrong See-Thru guitar once again. Source: Tony Bacon and Barry Moorhouse, The Bass Book, Paul Day, The Burns Book, and Gregg Hopkins and Bill Moore, Ampeg: The Story Behind The Sound.

From Blue Book Publications:


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