Ampeg, Dan Armstrong Plexi Guitar, 1969


Dan Armstrong Plexi Guitar
The Story Behind

In 1968 Ampeg and guitar-guru Dan Armstrong set about revolutionising the electric guitar. In that year the Ampeg Company of Linden, New Jersey hired Armstrong, a studio musician and guitar repairman, as a consultant to improve their Grammer line of guitars. He designed a new line of guitars and basses that were constructed of clear Plexiglas. These guitars had interchangeable pickups designed by Bill Lawrence who shared the Greenwich Village shop with Armstrong, and eventually took it over when Armstrong moved to London. The guitars had long sustain caused by the solid Plexiglas body, though that material made for a heavy guitar—around 10 lbs. This was highly innovative and technologically advanced. What came next was that The Rolling Stones took the stage with Keith Richards sporting the 'See Through' guitar and Bill Wyman playing the companion bass. The legend was born! 

The guitar features a body made of Plexiglas that was machined and finish-sanded just like a wood body with a bolt-on maple neck with 24 fretsThe main feature was the interchangeable pickups so a player could tailor his tone. Six interchangeable single-coil pickups were designed by Armstrong and pickup guru Bill Lawrence under the suitable monikers like Rock Treble, Rock Bass, Country Treble, Country Bass, Jazz Treble, and Jazz Bass. Its aesthetics were topped off with a faux-woodgrain Formica pick-guard and matching headstock overlay, while its tones were controlled via master volume and tone pots topped with metal knobs, a three-way tone toggle switch, and a metal Danelectro-style bridge with rosewood saddle. After early models experienced tuning stability issues, Ampeg started using high-quality Grover tuners as standard equipment, and slightly rewired the tone toggle.

The total production for the 3 years was around 3,000 guitars and around 3,000 basses - making for a total of roughly 6,000 instruments overall.

Financial issues between Dan Armstrong and Ampeg led to the guitars being discontinued in 1971.


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