Regardless of whether it was an acrylic guitar or bass, every Dan Armstrong · Ampeg instrument could be ordered with a custom hardshell case for an additional $60.00 as per literature quote of June, 1969.

These hard shell cases were manufactured and supplied by the Ess&Ess Manufacturing Company out of New York who were a major supplier of cases for many musical instruments on the market. Ampeg contracted them to build form fitted cases for Dan's new line of instruments.

If it hasn't been removed or worn away one can usually find the Ess&Ess tag up by the headstock portion of the case on the inside liner. Their sticker advertized them as the Ess&Ess Mfg. Co. Quality Cases, Brooklyn, New York.

When Dan and I got around to talking about the cases for the acrylic instruments I remember asking him how it was that he chose Ess&Ess over other makers. Dan replied "It was a matter of convenience more than anything else, I knew someone in the area had to be making guitar cases so I just asked around. When I finally got their name I just turned the contact information over to Ampeg and let them handle it from there, I really didn't have much to do with it."

But a second later Dan added "I do recall that we decided to only make the one size case, and someone took a bass over to them [Ess&Ess] so they could get body and neck measurements as trying to do it over the phone was quite a hassle." I then asked why only one size case was made and Dan went on to say "Convenience again, plus just plain economics. The dimensions of the guitar and bass bodies are the same, and it was cheaper to just make one case. The bass has the longer neck - so the case was designed for it, but we also made sure the guitar neck was going to be supported too."

As seen above left, the Ess&Ess case is a perfect fit for the bass guitar but as seen above right, it cradles the guitar body equally well since the body dimensions are the same. Although the neck is shorter on the guitar model, it is still supported. Although fairly dark, the cross member of the case that supports the neck can be seen at the 3rd fret - whereas it's at the 5th fret area on the bass guitar.

Above left, the case is form fitted to hug the acrylic body while at the same time supporting the neck. By cradling the body in this manner, the neck is more isolated from any jarring or shock. The pickup compartment is large enough to house at least four pickups as well as a strap and other accessories. A metal hook helps to ensure that the lid to the pickup compartment remains closed.

At right, the supports and padding of the Dan Armstrong case can be seen better. The headstock is kept clear of the bottom of the case by a padded support piece that extends the entire width of the case and is located at or very near the third fret area on the neck. The inside cover of the case features a piece of padding located directly above this area which in turn keeps the headstock clear of the topside of the case as well. Further back more padding can be seen on the inside cover, helping to secure the body when the lid is closed. Watchful eyes may have noticed that there is also some additional padding located in the position between where the two strap pins on the body would lie. The bottom of the case is slightly raised and padded in the body area so as not to create any pressure on the point where the neck and body come together. In essence, the case itself is a total shock-mount design made to support, cradle, and protect the body and neck during transport.

photo courtesy of Brian Davies

photo courtesy of Chad Coulter

Seen more in the earlier years of production is a second type of design for the Dan Armstrong case. While still made by the Ess&Ess Mfg. Co. these cases are virtually identical to the other cases shown above, with a few minor exceptions. As can be seen above left, the lid to the pickup compartment faces, and thus opens the other way compared to the former style case. The lid itself is kept closed by a small piece of leather that snaps to the lid itself vs. the metal eyelet & hook combo of the former case. As can be seen upper right, these cases sport a different shaped carrying handle. The shape of the handle is more squared off and features a strip of metal covering the section where the the handle anchors to the case - whereas the former handle is more rounded in shape and secured to the case differently.

The very early cases featured a light blue velvet-like liner inside - as can be seen at left. Notice too, that this case also employs the squared off handle and the reverse lid on the pickup compartment that features the small strip of leather with a snap.

In addition to the changes in the handle and pickup compartment was the change of color for the velvet type liner. Soon all inner linings would be available in black only. While the other colors may be valued a bit higher due to their rarity, I have always liked the black liner inside the case as I feel it is a nice touch that looks classy and was (and still is) a welcomed relief over the loud and gaudy colors that are so prevalent in other cases.

Why Ess&Ess chose to supply two different style of cases for this line of instruments is both confusing and unknown but it's a good bet that it was one of two reasons. The first reason may have been that there was a shortage of the aforementioned parts and they needed to get cases out the door, so they substituted with different handles, latches and inner linings.

Since the early cases are the ones with the different hardware and colored linings inside and, since both of these seemed to have been changed in and around the same point in time would seem to suggest another reason, or theory which was that their vendors had changed their product lines to the parts and colors that we all know.

click to enlarge
The guitars and cases all included what players today refer to as 'case candy'. Brochures, literature, and any accessories that might accompany an instrument. At the upper left is a string advertizement page, then an extra pickup and it's protective package, an Ampeg amp & accessories brochure, the owners manual, and an Ampeg Scrambler® effects unit advertizement. On top the pick compartment is the case keys and truss rod adjuster (in envelope), owners registry card, and a large folder type envelope to hold everything.

click to enlarge
A little more closer look at some of the Dan Armstrong/Ampeg case candy. The registry card, pickup, and the care & maintence brochure guide can be seen on other pages on this site. More pages will be added as they become available. The Scrambler was a distortion/octave pedal. Seen here, on the left page is a drawing that describes using the Scrambler unit in a 'Y' type configuration - using two Ampeg amplifiers.(notice the logo on the upper left corner of the amplifiers' speaker cabinets)

click to enlarge
Another brochure that accompanied the instruments is the Ampeg musical amplifiers, instruments, and accessories brochure, seen at left. The backside of a Dan Armstrong pickup can be seen resting against it's protective package. Notice the threaded screw hole for the guitar's thumb screw to turn into and secure the pickup to the body. Behind the pickup, notice the pickups protective yellow mailer type package. In particular, notice the postage amount needed back then if one were planning to mail it.

While the Ess&Ess Mfg. Co. would survive the passing of the Dan Armstrong instruments, it would not endure indefinately. As Matt Umanov states "Ess&Ess was owned by the Sandler family, and was located I think in the Bushwick neighborhood, maybe on Bushwick Ave. We used to do business with them directly years ago. The company was, during the 1970's or early 1980's, taken over by the son, Marty Sandler and eventually they went out of business sometime in the mid-1980's at the latest, not to be revived in any way, by name or otherwise."

Today, these cases are somewhat sought after and - given their rarity - the presence of an original Ess&Ess case greatly increases the value of a Dan Armstrong · Ampeg guitar or bass. About the only way to acquire such a case is through the various online auctions, &/or select guitar shops.


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.