ARMSTRONG, DAN
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ARMSTRONG, DAN
See Ampeg/Dan Armstrong Ampeg. Instruments previously produced in England between 1973 and 1975.
Luthier/designer Dan Armstrong was involved in the music industry for over thirty years. Armstrong originally was a musician involved with studio recording in New York, and rented equipment from a music shop called Caroll's. The owner noticed that his rental instruments were coming back in better shape than when they went out, and began using Armstrong to repair guitars. In 1965, Armstrong opened his own luthier/repair shop on 48th Street across from Manny's Music, and one of his first customers was John Sebastian (Loving Spoonful). As his new business grew, his studio calls for standby work also had him working with numerous artists. Armstrong's shop was open from 1966 to 1968 (which was then demolished to make room for the Rockefeller building), and then he moved locations to a shop in Laguardia Place in the Village.
Armstrong's shop sold new instruments as well. Armstrong used to stabilize Danelectros by changing the factory tuners for after-market Klusons, and by replacing the factory bridges. Nat Daniels (Danelectro) once visited his shop, and, upon discovering Armstrong's stabilizing techniques, got mad and left.
Armstrong met William C. Herring at a swap meet in New Jersey a year after MCA folded the Danelectro company in 1968. Herring had bought the company from MCA in late 1968 or early 1969, and Armstrong acquired some interest in the trademark. The facilities produced some 650 to 700 single cutaway models that had one humbucker, no peghead logo, and Dan Armstrong Modified Danelectro on the pickguard.
During the same time period, Armstrong was contracted by Ampeg to produce solidbody guitars and basses. Prototypes of the lucite-bodied instruments were produced in 1969, and production ran from 1970 to 1971. Lucite was chosen for its sustaining properties, but the novelty of a transparent body led to the nickname See-Throughs (which Ampeg later copyrighted). The clear-bodied guitars featured interchangeable pickups designed by Bill Lawrence; however, the plastic was prone to expanding when the body warmed up. While most of the production was clear lucite, a number of instruments were also cast in black lucite.
In 1973, Armstrong moved to England and produced wood body guitars based on the lucite designs. These guitars featured an anodized aluminum pickguard and a sliding pickup design. These pickups were mounted on a slotted aluminum track that ran parallel to the strings. The player could move the pickups at will to any position along the track for an infinite number of tonal possibilites. The English wood body instruments were produced between 1973 and 1975.
Armstrong produced a number of non-guitar designs as well. Armstrong assisted in some designs for Ampeg's SVT bass amp and the V-4 guitar amplifiers. Musictronics produced the Dan Armstrong Boxes in the mid-1970s, while Armstrong was still living in England. These six small boxes of circuitry plugged into the guitar directly, and then a cable was attached to the amplifier. Modules included the Red Ranger (EQ), Blue Clipper (distortion), Purple Peaker (EQ), Green Ringer (ring modulator), Yellow Humper (EQ) and the acclaimed Orange Squeezer (compression). Armstrong also had a hand in devising the Mutron Octave divider, Volume Wah, and Gizmo.
Dan Armstrong stayed busy in the early to mid-1980s inventing circuit designs and building prototypes of amplifiers in a consulting fashion. Armstrong was featured in numerous Guitar Player magazine articles on aftermarket rewiring schematics that expanded the potential voicings of Fender and Gibson production guitar models. Armstrong built some guitar prototypes for the Westone product line in the late 1980s, and his most recent projects were the Hot Cabs instrument speaker line for Cerwin Vega and overseeing St. Louis Music/Ampeg's Reissue guitar models. Armstrong died in June 2004 of a stroke. Biographical information courtesy Dan Armstrong May/June 1996.

From Blue Book Publications:


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