Keith Richards’ 1969 Ampeg Dan Armstrong See-Through

Keith received this guitar from Ampeg likely sometime in late 1969 and was first seen using it on the Ed Sullivan Show filmed in November that year.

Ed Sullivan Show, 1969

Keith was actually one of the first people to ever get their hands on this guitar, and he was perhaps largely responsible for its popularity later on.

The first guitar Dan Armstrong ever made me was a gem. It was one of the first prototypes or first preproduction models. And you could plug those pickups in. I know I used it on sessions. But I don’t know if anything I did on it ended up on a record. And then that guitar disappeared. They gave me two or three other ones, production models, but they were shadows of that particular one. And I gave up on them.

Keith Richards Looks Back on 40 Rocking Years with the Rolling Stones

Specs

The body of the Ampeg See-Through guitar was built of Lucite/Plexiglass, which according to the manufacturer, gave the guitar long sustain. The bodies were carved out of a full block of the material, and then sanded and polished to gloss.

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

The pickups in the guitar were 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. At this time, it is unknown which pickup Keith himself used (to learn more about this guitar and its history, please refer to A Clear, Concise History of Dan Armstrong’s See-Through Guitars by Tony Bacon).

Keith Richards showing Jimi Hendrix his Ampeg Dan Armstrong guitar, circa 1969.

Stolen, Replaced

In 1971, Keith’s main Dan Armstrong guitar got stolen, likely from Villa Nellcote in France. He received another two of these guitars as a replacement, which he used during the two-month American tour in 1972. However, as noted in the quote above, he quickly gave up on those and moved on to different guitars.

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Francesco Moresco
Francesco Moresco
2 months ago

I have the guitar, it’s Keith’s. It has been in my Fathers studio for years. The guitar was borrowed not stolen. Keith knows, the guitar sounds like shit. The only thing that makes the guitar unique is that he owned it.

Marcos
Marcos
1 month ago

How do you know it’s Keith’s? And if it was borrowed why don’t you give it back?

Lenny Cann
Lenny Cann
1 month ago

If you Have it post a picture of it and all the pickups you have for it. You would be able to tell if it was keiths 69 because i believe it was a prototype and it had a prototype pickup which no others had. So if you have it i would love to see a pic.