Dave Grohl’s Ampeg Dan Armstrong Lucite Guitar

This was Dave’s main guitar during the One by One Tour (2002–2003), and he used it almost exclusively during that period. It was also used on a few occasions in 2004/05, but at that point, a lot of other guitars were also in the mix.

Dave playing the Ampeg Dan Armstrong guitar. Studio 2 (CD:UK) 2002
Dave playing the Ampeg Dan Armstrong guitar. Studio 2 (CD:UK) 2002

The Specs, Model

This guitar model was made famous mainly by Keith Richard of the Rolling Stones, who used one starting from 1969. Dave’s guitar is from around that same period, since Ampeg only produced the model for three years, from 1969 to 1971.

The main feature of the Ampeg Dan Armstrong is of course the transparent body, which was built of Lucite/Plexiglass. According to the manufacturer, the bodies were carved out of a full block of the material, and then sanded and polished to gloss. This, combined with the material used, apparently gave the guitar a long sustain.

I just wanted to be as original as possible, not to copy anybody’s anything. […] We used perspex because it’s hard and consistent, and you don’t have to worry about grain. It gives good sustain, rather like a steel guitar. A lot of guys are using them for slide and they sound pretty steely

Dan Armstrong, Guitar Magazine 1973 – Jeffrey Pike

Also, the pickups in the guitar are interchangeable and could easily be swapped for any six pickups designed by Bill Lawrence. The guitar player had a choice between a pickup called Rock, Country, or Jazz, each of in Treble or Bass versions.

Dave was mostly seen using the humbucker version called the “Country Bass” pickup. On occasions, he also used the single metal line version (see photo at the top of the page), which could’ve been any of the other five available versions (see Dan Armstrong – Man & Guitars for more details about the pickups).

More than one Guitar?

Most likely, this difference in the pickups meant that Dave actually had at least two of these guitars. This makes perfect sense because let’s say something went wrong with his main guitar mid concert, he probably had to have another one as a backup.

Based on the photos, the “Country Bass” guitar, that had the humbucker pickup, at one point developed a crack across the body. From that point, it’s easily distinguishable from any other Ampegs that Dave could’ve had by the tape that held the crack under control.

One of Dave's Ampegs developed a crack across the body, and was held together with tape.
One of Dave’s Ampegs developed a crack across the body, and was held together with tape.
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