Two pickups came stock with the guitar, the Rock Treble and the Country Bass. According to Dan "approximately a year later we included the ST
pickup in the lineup and it eventually replaced the RT pickup as a stocking pickup."
As mentioned earlier, additional pickups could be ordered from Ampeg for $35.00 each. The white box that the pickups were shipped in
were clearly labeled with the Dan Armstrong/Ampeg name on them as well as the aforementioned label identifying the particular type of pickup within.
The pickups were surrounded by foam packing throughout.
At upper left, some pickups on older guitars still look good, even 'classy' after decades of playing. The scuffs & scratches, along with
just overall 'wear' over time seems to give these pickups character that most players like. So much so, that thriving businesses - 'aging services' - as
they're called, have cropped up over the years that can take a new instrument and distress it to give it the look (and feel) of an older model.
While the pickups and hardware on some guitars tend to 'age gracefully' it is most unfortunate that the pickups for the
Dan Armstrong · Ampeg instruments just seem to.... 'age'. As seen at upper right, one of my old Dan Armstrong RB pickups - which
is anything but 'classy' looking can be seen and is certainly showing its age. The brown resin that encases these pickups have really begun to break
down over the years, and given their 'swappable' design (i.e. lots of handling) - the brown resin has long ago begun to fade, crack & even peel away. Some
pickups - like this one, have bits, even chunks.... taken out of them, probably from being dropped, or just rough handling.
My man Ryan, who is amazing at automotive detailing work put me onto a great product for cleaning the tonneau cover & tires on my pickup, but one day I
decided to try a small amount of it on a different type of pickup, in this case - one of my Dan Armstrong pickups. Known as 303 Areospace
Protectant it is advertized as: "Originally engineered for aerospace and aviation applications, 303 Aerospace
protectant has found its way into millions of homes for day-to-day use on vehicles, sports equipment and more. Unlike many protectants that leave greasy
residues, Aerospace dries to a clear matte finish without a trace of oil. And because itís water-based, this protectant is safe to use on all products,
from your vehicleís paint job and leather seats to internal engine parts. Thereís a lot of power packed into this one product. A premium surface
treatment, Aerospace not only protects against fading, discoloration and cracking from harmful UV rays, but repels dust and stains, too."
I don't know if it was necessary or not, but I began with a little caution. First by putting on a pair of latex gloves, as I didn't know if this product
would be a skin irritant or not. Using more caution I applied a small amount of the 303 protectant onto a clean shop rag and began rubbing it onto the bottom
side of one of my JT pickups on the faded brown, (but mostly by now - white) resin. It was fortunate that I was sitting down as I was nothing short of shocked at
how quickly and easily this product returned the pickup to its natural color and texture.
At upper left & right - two Dan Armstrong pickups. In both photos, from left to right is the JT or Jazz Treble pickup, while on the right, is the JB, or Jazz Bass pickup.
Notice how the JB pickup has turned almost white with age. However, the truth is the JT pickup looked just as white as the JB before I started working on it. If you look
closely at the JT pickup you may notice that I left a little bit of it unfinished. I was half-way into its restoration when it dawned on me that I should stop and share
this with others. So for demonstration purposes, I put down the shop rag & picked up the camera.
After the aforementioned photo shoot I continued cleaning the JT pickup using the shop rag with the 303 protectant. Once done, I took a fresh shop rag
and wiped away any and all debris - leaving the pickup looking brand new (pits and missing chunks not withstanding). When done I was so impressed with
the way the pickup looked, that it dawned on me I was faced with a brand new, and unexpected problem - which was the pickups pole piece. By the time I got the
resin looking new it had revealed just how badly the bar pole piece looked. Dull, stained and faded, it stuck out like the proverbial 'sore thumb'
against the now 'new' looking resin. So I checked over my guitar workbench and there at the back was my can of Never Dull that I sometimes use
for cleaning and polishing frets. Next to it was a metal fingerboard protector - used when working on frets.
As seen upper left, I laid the fingerboard protector across one-half of the pole piece (the fingerboard protector wasn't wide enough to do the full
width), and cleaned it with a Never Dull pad, then flipped the fingerboard protector over to the other side of the pole piece and cleaned the other half with
a second pad as the first was totally black. Once I completed the second half I used a clean shop rag to wipe off any left over debris while bringing it to new
looking condition. Once I completed the JT pickup I then turned my attention to my JB pickup using the exact same steps. As seen upper right, both pickups are now
in new looking condition that look, and still sound great when slid into my Dan Armstrong · Ampeg guitars.
Although the 303 protectant claims "itís water-based" and thus "safe to use on all products" - I nevertheless used caution when
applying it on my JB pickup. At upper left, and seen better in enlarged view, some of the older Dan Armstrong pickups have cracks in them. Some are
shallow, while others appear to be deeper. Mine looked to be the latter and I really didn't want any of the 303 protectant to seep into the pickup
deep enough to possibly reach the pickup bobbin &/or the windings. I was equally cautious in the area around the banana plugs on the pickup - making
sure that none of the protectant ran down into the openings as I just don't have any idea what to expect should the protectant ever reach the fine
windings of the pickup.
So as per my disclaimer
I will mention that on this product it has the
usual California Proposition 65 Warning and as a precautionary I would definitely
wear a pair of vinyl gloves when using this product. Given this warning (as well as just plain protecting your pickup), I would use the "less is more"
rule when applying it. So I will use a little humor here and say that one does not need to 'pickle' or 'marinade' their pickup with this product.
Rather, I would suggest that one use a modest amount on a clean cloth and work it into the pickup with a continuous rubbing motion. There should be very
little, if any - 'run off' from the cloth at all. Even then, as a precaution, prior to starting I applied electrical tape over the banana plug openings
to prevent the protectant from running down into them. Although the banana plug openings were taped over I nevertheless took more precautions by using Q-Tips
in and around the banana jacks to apply the 303 protectant. I applied a light application and repeated it a second time - rather than a single heavy one - and
between applications, as well as at the end, I wiped the pickup down thoroughly with a smooth clean cloth which actually helped polish the pickup more.
From what I could tell afterwards - there are no sonic reasons for reviving your Dan Armstrong pickups as mine sounded exactly the same afterwards. Some
may scoff at altering what the passage of time has done to these pickups, and that's their right, &/or opinion - and I can respect that. However, it
is not mine, for as alluded to earlier, the Dan Armstrong acrylic guitar is not the type of instrument that looks the best worn out. On the contrary, I am
of the opinion that the elderly lady just needs a touch of makeup every now and then. Honestly, it's really not that much different than having the acrylic bodies
buffed out to give it a flawless 'new' shine when you think about it.
Opinions aside, and despite the obvious cosmetic reasons, there just may be logical reasons for doing this procedure for as stated earlier, the resin on many
of these pickups is really starting to break down and chip away. No doubt the passage of time, plus the elements, have made the resin very brittle on most of
them. Some, like a few of mine shown here - have turned white with age and have cracked in places.
This product seems to stop and, to some extent - even reverse the 'aging process' on these pickups as it seems like in addition to everything else, it
somewhat softens the resin just a touch, which should help keep them from further cracking and breaking - as well as protecting the pickup from the elements - all
while making them look great when inserted into your Dan Armstrong guitar or bass. It's been two or three years now since I've applied this product and my
pickups are going strong, sounding great, and looking like brand new. Highly recommended!
Names and images are TMand © Dan Armstrong / Ampeg. All rights reserved.
All other names and images are TMand © of their respective owners. All rights reserved.