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 had four strips of tape on it arranged to look like Black Flag’s logo. This was likely done as a homage to Greg Ginn, who had the same design on his Ampeg guitar.

Four strips of tape on Dave's guitar, arranged to look like Black Flag's logo.
Four strips of tape on Dave’s guitar, arranged to look like Black Flag’s logo.
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Chris McQuade
Chris McQuade
2 months ago

I don’t know whether or not that guitar was cracked and held together by tape, but the tape is in the pattern of the Black Flag logo and I think the guitarist in Black Flag played one of these. I read that in another board.

Last edited 2 months ago by Chris McQuade
Chris McQuade
Chris McQuade
2 months ago
Reply to  Dan Kopilovic

Great page though. I was looking up a video of One by One era Foos and found your post while looking up that guitar. Great work!

Matt Legard
Matt Legard
2 months ago

There are at least two of these. During a one by one concert he spills water on one and it stops working and his tech gives him another one exactly like it.