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Collectable Guitars pt 29 – Ampeg Dan Armstrong Plexiglass

icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Dan Armstrong Plexiglass was a very odd guitar originally made from 1969 to 1971 as an effort by popular amplification company Ampeg to draw in some more sales than their then-ailing amp lines were. The guitars came about from legendary guitar builder and repairer Dan Armstrong posing Ampeg the question:

“Since you make guitar and bass amplifiers, why not also make guitars and basses?”

Dan Armstrong Plexiglass GuitarAmpeg then asked Armstrong to design some guitars and basses for them to market. The design he came up with resides somewhere between a Strat and an SG, but with a surreal twist: the body was made entirely of a solid slab of Plexiglas (the trade name for a type of rigid, clear plastic) and the scratchplate of a piece of the wood-grain replica pattern Formica, popular on furniture in the 1960s and 70s.

The other very novel and inventive feature of the Dan Armstrong was the electrics arrangement. There was only one pickup “slot”, at the bridge position. There was no pickup actually installed, but specially designed self-contained pickups were available, a twin blade humbucker or a blade single-coil. All the pickups were contained in the same size casing, but the upside was that the two types of pickups could be slotted in very easily and with no complex modification required. There was also an inbuilt volume boost circuit.

There were a couple of clear upsides of the Plexiglas Ampeg, which was available as a guitar or bass. The solid Plexiglas body had a lot more sustain than most other guitars available at the time, new pickups could be slotted in easily with the radical circuitry, and the Plexi body just looked refreshingly different. However, it was also very heavy, and more difficult to make than wooden guitars. Ampeg and Dan Armstrong parted ways in 1971, and the guitar was no more. However, the model has been reissued and is currently available. Ampeg also do cheaper versions made of mahogany or swamp ash.

The guitars have been most famously used by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

Current prices for originals are high, and the 1970s models are rare. The armies of 1970s Ampeg copies by Ibanez and Shaftesbury are also rare and collectable, but prices for the reissue start at £450-ish for the wooden ones, and the Plexi reissues are about £1000.

5 Comments

  1. John Mitten says:

    Greetings from the USA,

    I am looking to sell a prototype electric guitar. Only one was made in 1975. The cost then was $1,300.00.

    Today’s cost would be $5,265.88! [Source: http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/inflation.htm%5D

    The guitar is made of 1&1/2 transparent bronze Plexiglas G, and was styled after the Les Paul guitar. It has a Hofner neck, Grover tuning machines, two Carvin humbucking pickups, a Bigsby tailpiece, and a tune-a-matic bridge.

    You may see the guitar at my website. My good friend, Rabbi Sid Kleiner, [former owner of House of Guitars, New Jersey, USA] after playing the “G”, wrote a fine article for PTM, a USA musical instrument trade mag. [Sid was also friends with the late, great Les Paul, and I think they played — and maybe recorded together].

    I lent Linda Ronstadt my guitar, for her guitarist, Andrew Gold, to try out during a 1976 tour. Andrew doesn’t remember playing it [but, I think he was miffed that I didn’t go to his solo show]. His manager, did call me to say, “Andrew loves the guitar. Could we take it to the LA studios to try on new songs by Linda and Him.

    Suffice to say, I would like to sell the guitar, but, to only someone who might appreciate such a guitar. It’s fantastic for slide. Would you know of anyone, particularly known guitarists, that might like a guitar such as mine.

    Well, thanks, and all, from America. I hope to hear from you, and can dig up both music mag articles.

    Best from Manchester, New Hampshire, USA

    Home Phone: (603) 623-0775

    John_Mitten@msn.com

  2. I own one of the earliest of the Dan Armstrong Ampeg clear lucite acrylic ( I do not think that this is actually “plexiglass”) guitars, model # A646 D. I believe this one dates from the first year of production-1969. I would be interested what the current value in U.S. $ would be. Mine came with two of the original 6 pickups- the CB(country bass) and LT( lead treble). I believe these were the two standard p/u’s included at point of sale during this time period- the others were available separately-via dealers or mail order. I know of two websites that claim to produce re-issue pick-ups made to the same or better specs as the originals-haven’t checked ’em out yet though. Love the guitar, it is a true rock’n’roll machine; true, it is heavy, and the electronics configuration takes some getting used to, but for screaming sustain and plain coolness it is unparalleled. See you later, gator.

  3. Hector Lucena says:

    I am looking for and original deep bass pickup for a 1971 Dan Armstrong Bass.
    You say that you information on sights that make repoduction pickups. Please send me the information. Thanks, Hector Lucena (215) 548-0970

  4. I’m looking for this Plexiglass Ampeg Dan Armstrong original from the 70’s. Any contact can be done by tsarmentoimprensa@gmail.com. Please, contact me if you know someone who are able to sell one of these, either in NY area and Europe.

    Thanks, Tiago

  5. Anthony Chariton says:

    Hi
    I looking for some pickups for an original Dan Armstrong Plexi guitar. The only one I have is the country bass. Please contact me if you can assist in any way.
    marineecology@live.com
    Cheers
    Anthony

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