If high production costs were not bad enough, the early Dan Armstrong 'London' instruments all suffered one definite flaw, and that was a relatively weak neck set. Apparently the glue used on these instruments was such that it could not hold up under the stress from the constant pressure of the strings and the neck would often separate from the body. This is most prevalent in the bass instruments, where the tension is greater for the same given pitch. It's more rarely seen in the guitar models and not seen at all on the newer body styles as by that time a different type glue was being used.

As seen upper left, a long scale (older body style) long scale bass where the neck separated from the body. The tongue of the neck can be seen just to the left in the photo. At the same pitch - the tension on the long scale is greater than on the short scale bass and as such, the neck is more likely to give way as in this case. At upper right, the bass, with all the parts lie in it's original case awaiting a fix.

Upper left, the routing of the body for the tongue of the bass neck. Notice how you can still see visible signs of the dried glue within. At upper right - the tongue of the bass neck. Notice the slot, or opening in the tongue itself that allows a portion of the ramp that the pickup glides upon to rest.

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

But as can be seen above left, and especially noticeable in the enlarged view, the necks can be simply reglued, back on but this type of repair is best left to a known, and competent luthier.

Although the Dan Armstrong · London basses would come to be used by artists such as Bill Wyman, Jack Bruce and many more, they would unfortunately come to suffer the same fate as their guitar brethren. But to me, it's somewhat ironic to remember that shortly after Dan started selling his London basses - the Gibson guitar company introduced a bass that just happened to feature a sliding pickup. This was their Gibson Grabber bass. Shown at upper right in a natural finish, it features a Flying V style headstock but retains similar features as the Dan Armstrong 'London' bass - with it's enlarged scratchplate & single volume/tone control. But if you look closely at the sliding pickup it quickly becomes apparent that it has nowhere near the travel range of the Dan Armstrong models and as a result cannot hope to achieve the wider range of sounds that the London basses can achieve. Still, the Grabber bass is yet another example of where large musical instrument manufacturers saw the value, and eventually emulated Dans design ideas.


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