|Born||Dan Kent Armstrong
October 7, 1934
|Died||June 8, 2004
Los Angeles, California
|Known for||Session musician, luthier|
Dan Kent Armstrong was born on October 7, 1934 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He started playing the guitar at age 11, and moved to New York in the early 1960s in order to work as a studio musician and guitar repairman. In 1965 he opened his own guitar repair shop, 'Dan Armstrong's Guitar Service', on West 48th Street. The building was razed in 1968 to make room for 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and Armstrong relocated his shop, renamed 'Dan Armstrong Guitars', to Laguardia Place in Greenwich Village.
In 1968 the Ampeg Company of Linden, New Jersey hired Armstrong 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. A second reissue of the Dan Armstrong guitar was launched in 2006.
Armstrong moved to London in the early 1970s where he developed a new line of electric instruments, amplifiers and effects boxes. The Dan Armstrong London instruments were made of solid Honduran mahogany with sliding low impedance pickups, available as a six string guitar, short scale and long scale guitars. Armstrong also marketed a line of tube guitar and bass amplifiers, the first amps available with graphic equalization and effects boxes, the Blue Clipper, Yellow Humper, Red Ranger, Purple Peaker, Green Ringer and Orange Squeezer.
In 1977 Armstrong and his wife, Vicki O'Casey, moved back to the United States. A licensing and manufacturing agreement was reached with Musitronics to re-release the effects boxes. Armstrong also developed a line of pickups for Schecter Guitar Research, a new amplifier for Fender. The couple returned to England, where they lived in Ashford, Kent, in the late 1990s, but again moved back to America after several years. After suffering from emphysema for many years, Armstrong died from a combination stroke and heart attack in Los Angeles on June 8, 2004.
Armstrong effects boxes continue to be made under license from his son, Kent Armstrong, who is also a maker of guitar pick-ups.
List of notable artists who have used Armstrong guitars
- Justin Trosper of Unwound
- Justin Pearson of The Locust
- Mike Lewis of Lostprophets
- Jack Bruce of Cream
- Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath
- Jesse F. Keeler of Death From Above 1979
- Cyril Jordan of Flamin' Groovies
- Randy California of Spirit
- John Davis of Superdrag
- Greg Ginn of Black Flag (Played a Dan Armstrong almost exclusively during Black Flag)
- Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters
- John Kay of Steppenwolf
- Paul McCartney of The Beatles (owns the only left-handed Dan Armstrong guitar)
- Randy Rhoads of Quiet Riot (owned by Kevin DuBrow)
- Ron Wood of Faces and The Rolling Stones
- Steve Miller of The Steve Miller Band
- Buzz Osborne of The Melvins
- Joe Perry of Aerosmith (with an A bass string where the low E string goes with an Open A tuning for sliding which he uses for "Draw the Line")
- Rick Price of The Georgia Satellites
- Lou Reed of Velvet Underground, during solo period 1974-1976
- Nile Rodgers of Chic
- Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones
- Rick Richards of The Georgia Satellites
- Earl Slick
- Matthew Bellamy of Muse, only in the Supermassive Black Hole music video
- Leslie West of Mountain
- Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones
- Scott Hill, Bob Balch and Brad Davis of Fu Manchu
- George Kooymans of Golden Earring
- Brent Hinds of Mastodon
- Bill Kelliher of Mastodon
- Justin Hawkins of The Darkness
- Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits
- Stephen Egerton (guitarist) of Descendents (band) & ALL (band)
- Mike Neider (guitarist) of Bl'ast (band)
- Dr. Matt Destruction (Bassist) of The Hives, only in the video "Go Right Ahead Live broadcast from RMV"
- Charlie Block of Mariner
- Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke
- Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age
- Cliff Jones of Gay Dad
Carly Simon had a love affair with Armstrong until around 1971. He is the subject of the song "Dan My Fling" from her 1971 debut album, and is thought by some to be the subject of her 1972 song You're So Vain,
- Tony Bacon, The Ultimate Guitar Book, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.
- Tony Bacon, Dave Burrluck, Paul Day, and Michael Wright, Electric Guitars: The Illustrated Encyclopedia, Thunder Bay Press, 2006.
- Gregg Hopkins and Bill Moore, Ampeg: The Story Behind the Sound, Milwaukee, Hal Leonard, 1999.
- Dan Armstrong - The Man and His Guitars
- The Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer compressor – Did Mark Knopfler really use it?. Germany: Mark Knopfler Guitar. 2008-10-09. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
- Sheila Weller. Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon & the Journey of a Generation, Simon & Schuster. 2008: ISBN 978-0-7434-9147-1
- Media related to Dan Armstrong at Wikimedia Commons