Like the rest of the instrument, the hardware used on the Dan Armstrong acrylic guitars and basses was the best available. Even by today's standards, some fifty years later, the hardware and appointments can only be equalled and not really much improved upon.
| The instruments were trimmed with a wood grain patterned Formica scratchplate that also matched the veneer used on the headstock. According to Matt Umanov the prototype was trimmed with rosewood until Dan started using Formica. When asked Matt replied 'Best I can recall, Danny went out and bought some Formica, I suppose they found something similar, if not identical, for production.' Earlier models (right) have Formica that's smooth to the touch, while later models (left) have a texture to it. |
Dan explains 'our supplier, Rohm & Haas, switched over and began to produce a more textured look on the wood grained Formica veneer.' It is unknown for certain when the change occured, but based on serial numbers, the best guess is that it happened near, or in early 1970, thus making the 1969 models the only instruments to feature the smooth, glossy type Formica.
| As seen at left, two latter day, textured style Formica scratchplates for the Dan Armstrong instruments. The scratchplate at left depicts the design used for the bass, though earlier models (D2000A and earlier) had no hole drilled for a selector switch as they did not yet employ one. |
The scratchplate for the guitar can be seen on the right, and is virtually identical, with the only exception of it curving around the backside of the pickup a tad. When placed one on top the other, everything else lines up, even the small mounting screws that attach the scratchplates to the guitar body.
| There is, however, a marked difference in the placement of the mounting holes between a smooth, glossy surface scratchplate and a textured scratchplate. The textured scratchplates were wider by a small margin. As a result, and as can be seen at left, installing a textured type scratchplate onto an older guitar body that originally had a smooth, glossy scratchplate quickly reveals that the mounting holes on the guitar body do not line up. |
Seen here, the textured scratchplate mounting holes lie a fraction of an inch outside the original mounting holes. It's unknown for certain why this change occured, but it is not recommened to alter the body of the guitar in this fashion. Although it cannot be seen from the front side it will neverless, devalue the instrument.
| As seen at left, the acrylic bodies are drilled and tapped to accept the mounting screws used to secure the scratchplate to the acrylic body. These screws are phillips headed and chrome plated. The taper headed screws fit virtually flush with the scratchplate when turned fully in and match up nicely with the chrome plated scratchplate surroundings. These same screws were used to mount the truss rod cover to the headstock. The wood grained Formica scratchplate is adorned with the words Dan Armstrong · Ampeg etched into it with white lettering. |
| Over the years players have sometimes had problems as they sometimes tend to step on their patch cord which in turn pulled on the plug that went into the jack on the scratchplate. Since the force being applied was more downward and not outward, the jack did not unplug, instead it cracked the scratchplate in and around the jack. In todays world of wireless connections patch cords are almost non-existent but time was when using a patch cord was the only way. Many players felt that the scratchplate material on the Dan Armstrong instruments were just too brittle as a result. |
In all fairness, it's worth mentioning that many Les Paul jack plates are broken each year as well, and usually replaced with metal ones. In the past, and as can be seen above left, guitar players would often times install a large washer under the output jack's nut to solve this problem, though for better structure, not to mention cosmetics, it is suggested to put the washer on the underside of the Formica. Alternatively, one can always get a replacement pickguard from places like Pickguard Heaven.
| Although there is no evidence to suggest any connection it is nevertheless interesting, to me anyway, to note that certain Ampeg amplifiers like this 1968 'Reverbojet' model had their own type of faux wood trimmings on them. |
These amps were being produced at the very same time Dan was designing the acrylic guitars & basses. Did Dan see these amps & decide to use something similar on his instruments? It would seem unlikely, and it's probably just a coincidence, but I can't help but wonder.
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