By the mid 1990's Dan Armstrong collaborated with Cerwin Vega® - a
company that produces professional
audio components as well as home speakers & car audio components. For Dan, it was the former as he, along with the
engineers at Cerwin Vega worked for nearly five years designing a line of guitar loudspeakers that could handle great
amounts of power and deliver it efficiently. In addition, these newly designed loudspeakers were housed in unique,
lightweight cabinets that would come to be known by musicians as Hot Cabs®.
I never got around to asking Dan how he got involved with Cerwin Vega but had speculated that it may have been
through a former Ampeg employee by the name of Rich Mandella - who worked for Cerwin Vega during the 1990's. Dan
himself confirmed my theory in the May 1993 (Vol.7, No.8) issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine where he stated "Rich
Mandella who was the artist relations fellow from Ampeg from back in those days, the guy that got the Stones and
Faces to sign with the company, has been working for Cerwin Vega for the last 16 years. He called me a few years
back and said 'Man I've been looking for you, we want to get into the guitar business'. I told him I'd be happy
to help him and basically for the past two years I have designed, from scratch, a loud speaker."
The interviewer mentioned that a new loud speaker "sounds interesting but was not a guitar" - and Dan replied "It's the
thing you play the guitar through... it's the other end of the guitar. Everything in that chain has to sound good, the
guitar, the cabinet, the speaker. This was a good place to start, and there has never been a speaker and cabinet that
will do what this ones does. I began by doing all this free air testing on all the speakers that are out there,
without any cabinets - the only real way to compare speakers, by the way. You finally learn what the characteristics
of these speakers are, without the enhancement of the cabinet. So I compared every speaker I could find that sounded
any good at all with the guitar."
"All the Celestions®, all the Electro Voices®, all the JBL's®,
Jensens®, Oxfords® all of them. We made comparisons of as many as we could find as
examples, noted what was good about this and bad about that, and turned it over to the engineering staff and said
'Lets start with Cerwin Vega parts and make some speakers', so we did. And we have been reworking and refining the
various models until finally we came up with one Cerwin Vega speaker that sounds better by far, to me. It had more
of a musical sound than any of the other examples."
The interviewer then asked "And it's something that's ready for production right now?" To which Dan replied
"It's something that went into production in December, and will be ready for shippment in a couple of months. The
next thing was to design the cabinet that matched the speaker and I designed a cabinet that was extremely lightweight
and very resonant. The back of the cabinet makes contact with the speaker, and has a soundpost placed in it. The speaker
drives the back of the cabinet - and it functions like a musical instrument."
Lastly, the interviewer asked "Do you have more than one design?" To which Dan responded with "A single 12" cabinet,
lightweight, solid, and 'Bitchin'."
But whatever the
reason, the collaboration continued until the late 1990's during which time several different types of Hot Cabs were
produced. Everything from a cabinet housing a single 12" speaker to the usual 4x12 design was available.
As seen above left, my Dan Armstrong 112-G Hot Cab which features a 12" speaker at 8 ohms and measures in at 20" high
x 20" wide x 10" deep. It will handle 150 watts yet tips the scale at only 24 lbs. At the lower right corner on the
cabinet, and seen better in enlarged view, is a small tab that one can pull on to remove the grille cloth which is
attached to a frame that features 4 plastic pegs - one peg per corner that plugs into receptacles on the cabinet which
in turn hold the grille cloth and frame to the cabinet. At upper right, and with the grill cloth removed, the 12"
speaker can be seen. Notice the four receptacle holes, one in each corner. This is where the pegs on the grille cloth
frame plug and snap in.
As seen upper left, the backside of the 112-G cabinet is closed with only a 1/4" guitar jack located in the lower
corner of the cabinet which seems a nice change as most other cabinets always place the jacks in the center of the
cabinet. On a few occassions I have found it convenient with the jack in the corner like this when cables aren't long enough.
At upper right, each cabinet features a tag, or plate on the backside giving the model number of the cabinet as well
as the specifications and type of speaker within which can be most helpful when it comes to knowing the power handling
capabilities, and impedance of the cabinet.
As seen upper left, the Dan Armstrong · Cerwin Vega Hot Cabs came shipped in ordinary cardboard
boxes. In addition to the cabinet, a warranty registration booklet was enclosed, revealing a one year limited warranty.
This booklet can be seen in the brochures section. The cabinets were so light that most shippers could handle them.
At upper right, and seen from the side, the serial number of the cabinet can be seen. In this case, serial number
10081. Below the serial number the model number of the cabinet can also be seen. In this case it is the 112-G. All of
this same exact information is found on a tag, or label which is riveted onto the back of the cabinet and can be seen
in the photos shown above these.
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.