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Dan Armstrong Lucite Guitar: Heard but not seen
Hey, take a look at—uh, through?—this guitar!
This Dan Armstrong designed Lucite guitar was released by Ampeg in 1969 after Dan pointed out the obvious: that Ampeg needed an electric instrument to complement their amplifiers. And yes, the body’s made entirely of a piece of clear, comfortably contoured acrylic with very long sustain—and a bonus sore shoulder at the end of the night for anyone unaccustomed to the nearly eight-pound weight of this invisible monster.
At first glance, the transparent body diverts attention from another Armstrong innovation: this guitar has a little scoop taken out next to the strings so that you can snap different pickups in and out on the fly without even having to detune.
While Dan Armstrong and his colleague Matt Ulmanov designed the first prototypes, they found that their tools needed constant sharpening: the acrylic kept taking all the bite out of the blades. By the way, if you thrust from the pelvis too enthusiastically while playing and your belt buckle scratches your Dan Armstrong, don’t worry. Just put a little toothpaste on a cloth and buff it out for a brand new, minty-fresh shine every time.
Imagine it. You no longer have to scour the corners of the Earth searching for guitars that match your leopard print Gig Night Speedo! This curvaceous crystalline beauty goes with anything. It may also boost your post-gig prospects because anything behind it is magically “Enlarged to show texture.”
Spectacular novelty aside, Dan Armstrong’s place in rock history is assured. These vitreous wonders got rocked by Jack Bruce of Cream, Greg Ginn of Black Flag, Paul McCartney of some obscure band, Keith Richards, Lou Reed, and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. Grohl’s guitar actually bears a tribute to Black Flag; he plastered the band’s famous stripes logo onto the front.
To top it all off, one of Dan’s Ampeg “See-through” guitars hangs in the Phoenix musical instrument museum. Not bad, Mr. Armstrong.
The original Lucite guitar and its bass counterpart were taken off shelves in 1971 due to business disagreements between Dan Armstrong and Ampeg, but a Noughties reissue means this unique instrument is clearly back. Haw haw haw! You see what I did there?!