The Armstrong History – Part 2

By 1977 Dan’s time in England had run its course so he flew back to the USA. He left behind both Kent and Eric who had created lives of their own, Kent even expecting his first child (Kadie, October 1977). At this time Kent was running a motorbike despatch business but knew that with a child on the way every extra penny would come in handy. With this in mind he dedicated as much time as possible to hand-making and repairing pickups. With his second child (Aaron, March 1980) on the way, Kent realised that making pickups was where his skills lay and his time would be best spent. To do this and raise a family, he needed more space. This prompted the move to Brighton in 1979 where Kent started manufacturing his first marketed line of pickups under the title of Rainbow Pickups. Within five years the business had expanded to a point where it was bursting out of the Brighton basement, so in 1985 Kent moved once again, taking his family to Shadoxhurst in rural Kent. Here both the family and business flourished. It was around this time that Kent started Rainbow Products which was set up as a mail order distribution company of guitar parts. By 1990, Rainbow Products was importing then distributing to Europe (and further afield) a vast array of accessories for stringed instruments. As the majority of imports were coming from a Floridian company known as WD Music, Kent realised that there was an opportunity to strike up a mutually beneficial partnership. This culminated in Rainbow Products becoming WD Music Products (UK).

From a young age Aaron helped Kent out in the workshop and in 1998 Aaron left Norton Knatchbull Grammar school and began training more seriously with his father. In late 1999 Kent and his wife Margaret found an idyllic spot in New England, and made the move, it was from there that Kent would continue his expansion into the U.S. market, while back in England Aaron was entrusted to run the European side of the business. With only a year and a half of training under his belt Aaron was facing a steep learning curve but, with Kent only across the pond and easily reachable, Aaron continued to learn from and be guided by his father in all things stringed.

After years of gathering experience and working with some of best known bands around – such as Razor Light, Turin Breaks and The Darkness – Aaron has taken Armstrong Pickups into the 21st century, with a website to promote new products such as laser-engraved personalised pickups and the idea of the customer being able to design their own sound.

In 2010, after getting married to Aaron in the summer, Harriet Armstrong was the latest to join the Armstrong Pickups enterprise. Working with Aaron in Bethersden, she is learning all the tricks of the trade whilst managing the accounts (and Aaron!).