For the origin and the story of the Dan Armstrong 'London' bass, it is recommended to first read through the guitar section as the bass models are identical to the guitar model in this respect.

The bass instruments did have a few interesting differences than their guitar counterpart however. While the guitar model was a 6 string guitar with a left handed or 12 string version available as a special order, the basses were produced in both short and long scale as stock versions with left handed or fretless versions available on a special order basis.

As can be seen at left, the bass guitars, particularly the short scale models, closely matched the guitar model. In fact, from a distance its 301/8"scale neck can easily be mistaken for its guitar counterpart unless one counts the number of tuning pegs.

The pickups on these basses were identical to the guitars in that they were a humbucking type that slide on an aluminum ramp from the bridge to the neck. However, being a bass guitar, this allowed for a bit more travel of the pickup over the guitar model. Unlike the guitar, the short scale bass features a 24 fret fingerboard. Coupled with a strikingly close body shape, and similar scratchplate shape - these models are virtually just the Dan Armstrong · Ampeg acrylic bass models only made of wood.

click to enlarge
At left, a long scale model 343 bass. Notice how far back the bridge/tailpiece is when compared to the short scale bass pictured above. In the photo of the short scale, notice how the bridge tailpiece is located next to the tone control, whereas on this bass, it is way toward the bottom of the guitar.

One nice feature of the long scale is the extra travel of the pickup on the ramp that is thus possible with the bridge being so far back. This will allow for even more new & interesting sounds to eminate from the instrument.

click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge

Seen above, a later model Dan Armstrong London bass. This one is a very late model in that it not only sports the later body style, but the headstock does not feature the 'London' stamp on it. As can be seen, and especially noticeable in the middle photo, this bass is the long scale version. Notice how the bridge/tailpiece is near the very bottom of the instrument which allows for a greater distance that the sliding pickup can travel, thus providing a greater amount of tonal qualities over the short scale version.

As seen upper left, and as mentioned above, this bass does not sport the 'London' name on the headstock. According to Tony Pitt and Kent Armstrong, this is due to the fact that in the latter days of production Dan wanted to move all operations to Germany in an attempt to avoid the rising costs of production in England. Since instruments were still being produced, and, since nobody knew if, or when the business would relocate to Germany, it was decided to play it safe and drop the 'London' name - at least for the duration. At upper right, the backside of the headstock with its Schaller® tuners.

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

Like the guitar models, the later model basses began to arrive in different colors, and according to Craig Buzzart who was the west coast distributor of these instruments "It didn't matter if it was the guitar or the bass models but near the end days, the instruments started to arrive in different & random colors. A dealer often didn't know what color he was going to get next." One can only assume that Dan wanted to try to stimulate sales a little further by offering different colors.

click to enlarge
Although the newer body style and white finish definitely clarifies this as a later model instrument, it nevertheless sports the 'London' name on the headstock making this a later model but not one of the latest, for close to the end the London name was dropped.

Notice too the aluminum nut and zero fret as well as the machining of the aluminum veneer on the headstock. The fine machining is most noticeable in the enlarged view.

Unlike the acrylic Dan Armstrong instruments, the headstock design did not allow for direct string pull from the nut to the tuners as is especially noticeable in the outer (E&G) strings.



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.