The Armstrong History

It all began a long time ago in a place far, far away…

Well it actually all began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1934 with the birth of a boy who would dedicate his life to designing, making and playing music. This boy was Dan Armstrong who at the age of 11 acquired a double bass, which his mother painted a particularly fetching shade of pink! After starting a family (including Kent, 1953, who was to be the eldest child of five) Dan realised that to seek his fame and fortune he would need to be where the action was, and in the early ’60s that place was The Big Apple. At first he made ends meet by doing session work which introduced him to some of the movers and shakers of the scene at that time. By 1965 Dan had enough money and contacts to set up his own guitar shop on 48th Street, from where he did repairs, designed amps, built guitars and wound pickups all whilst enjoying every facet that the ’60s had to offer.

In 1968 Ampeg approached Dan to design a range of guitars and basses. The new design that Dan came up with had some original ideas, such as a plexiglass body, which although very heavy provided unparalleled sustain. There was also the interchangeable pickup which you could slide in and out of the guitar easily allowing players to change the sound of the guitar without any re-wiring. This concept was the brain-child of master pickup maker Bill Lawrence. Around this time Kent, now 14, moved to New York with his younger brother Eric to go to high school at Dewitt Clinton (where Kent has recently been inducted into the alumni hall of fame:, class of ’71). To earn some pocket money Kent began helping out in the shop. Under the tutelage of Bill Lawrence, Kent became very well versed in all things stringed and soon enough he took over the repair department at the beginning of the ’70s.

Not long after this Dan had the opportunity to move over to England, London to be exact, and at the start of the ’70s there were few cooler places to be than ‘Tin Pan Alley’ on Denmark street. He gave both Kent and Eric the opportunity either to come to London, where he would help them out through college, or to stay in New York where they would have to fend for themselves. Both boys thought London sounded like the better option!

Whilst Kent and Eric were finishing off their education, Dan developed a new line of electric guitars, amps and effects boxes, the latter gaining somewhat of a cult status. Fans of these vintage tones will be pleased to know they are still being sold today by our sister company WD Music.

Read part 2 of The Armstrong History