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Wednesday, August 3

Jerry Garcia and his guitars: a Match Made in Heaven. All the Guitars that Jerry Played from The Warlocks to JGB and the Grateful Dead.

Jerry Garcia and his guitars: a Match Made in Heaven. All the Guitars that Jerry Played from The Warlocks to JGB and the Grateful Dead.  

Jerry started playing with the Grateful Dead using a red Guild Starfire. He played this model on the The Grateful Dead and through the first couple of years.  He then switched again to a variety of GIbson Les Pauls, which he switched every year or so between them.

This is one of the Les Paul's he played. This was in 1968. He then moved to a Gibson SG for Live/Dead.  In 1970 he briefly switched to a Fender Strat, a sign of things to come.  On the Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, the most gorgeous acoustic songs of all time, in my humble opinion. he played a Martin D-18.
 Jerry Playing Pedal Steel
"Grateful Dawg" Jerry playing his Martin with Dave Grisman playing an Alvarez

From 1970-1971, he switched back to the Gibson SG but then the first of the named guitars came out. In 1972, he broke out the Fender Strat given to him by Graham Nash with the Alligator sticker.

He played this through most of 72' and he purchased his first Doug Irwin guitar for $850 bucks.

He played "Wolf" from the middle of 73-74, which provided him with that jazzy sound that those years are known for. The "Wolf" like the character in Pulp Fiction, is an amazing guitar. But Ole' Jer loved him some guitars and he had to have them specially made. No off-the rack guitars for this guy. That's what led to maybe Jerry's ugliest guitar, a custom built aluminum body. No matter the looks though, the next guitar is what he played from 75' all the way up through Fall of 77' when he got "Wolf" back with the custom inlays and bells and whistles.

Maybe it's my prejudice against white guitars but there is no doubt that with that guitar and his MuTron effects pedal, from 76' to the fall of 77', when he got "Wolf" back, some classics came out of those strings. No dust on them at all! From fall of 77'- to 79' it was the go to axe for Mr. Garcia.

On April 4, 1979, we saw the first appearance of what would be known as "TIger" this 13 and 1/2 had all the effects put into the body of the guitar and he would play this for the next 11 years

 Occasionally, he would whip out the older Strat for "Space" or the modified "Wolf" for MIDI sounds, like trumpet or clarinet or any other horn sounds you might have heard during space.  It wasn't just the acid, you were hearing Jerry play horns. Rock Scully claimed he said," Jerry, you could've been a hell of a horn player." to which Jerry modestly replied,"Rock, I am a hell of a horn player" This is thanks to the new MIDI "Wolf". Most notably he played this during the famed "Warlocks" show at Hampton,VA.

In 1990, he switched to another of the "holy trinity" which came to be called, "Rosebud". Even though he kept playing "Tiger" for the following year with JGB, this became his main guitar. All the effects were built into this $11,000 masterpiece.
Then Stephen Cripe showed up. He was used to working on the insides of yachts and sailboats but decided to try his hand at guitar making. He built "Lightning Bolt" out of wood from an old bed from an opium den and recycled Brazilian rosewood because he knew Jerry had a thing for the rainforest. He mailed it to Club Front and Jerry  claimed this was the "guitar I always wanted". He said it felt right and allowed him to play further up the fretboard, where he used to be nervous of playing. He immediately ordered another one to be called "Top Hat"

 He played "LIghtning Bolt" from 1993 on.  The guitar was in the shop for the final show at Soldier Field in Chicago, so Jerry started the show with "Rosebud" but after developing problems during the show, he switched to the old reliable "Tiger"the toughtest cat in the stable. Jerry owned about 25 guitars and put in his will that he wanted them to go back to their makers. Bob Weir thought that historically they should be kept and defied Jerry's wishes. Most of them are in the Rock and Roll HOF. Ironically, the one guitar that was returned to Doug Irwin, he sold. That, however, is another story." It Belongs In A MUSEUM!"-Indiana Jones

Tiger, who is currently owned by the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, has lent out the big cat himself "Tiger" to Warren Haynes, who has played "Wolf" before too,is currently playing it on tour with the The Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration Tour, in which it brought a certain Grateful Music staffer to tears when he heard it's distinctive growl. There aren't many more shows so check them out if you're close. It's well worth it.

Written by:Greg Heffelfinger
Pretty Ladies All in a Row, the main five, minus "Top Hat"
Warren Playing Tiger at Red Rocks: 8/1/16

PS: Corrections from a gearhead fan and we here at Grateful Music love when our fan interactions yield more info. So here is some info with links from a FB fan.

the time this pic was taken(with Gisman), he was an endorser of Alvarez guitars ( ) and played them almost exclusively.

Another thing is a misunderstanding how of Garcia's unique on-board effects loop worked. The effects were not built-in to the guitar itself, as you stated, but because how the guitar was wired, the effects were "virtually" inside. It (simplistically) goes like this: string vibrates & causes the magnet in the pickup to move, creating the electric signal. This signal passes though the tone controls and on to an on-board op-amp (sometimes called a buffer) which creates a constant voltage of this electric signal, as compared to letting the strength of the string vibration control the voltage. The signal then leaves the guitar and goes through Jerry's pedals & effects rack. The constant voltage provided by the op-amp allows the effect to be the same whether Jerry is barely touching the string or strumming so hard he's practically breaking the string. After going through the effects, the signal comes back into the guitar and passes through the main volume control before heading out to his amplifier & speakers. The send-receive-send is why his guitars have multiple jacks on them.

The ownership of location of some his guitars is also inaccurate. More than just one of his guitars were sold, in fact 2 were sold on the same day at the same auction (Wolf & Tiger). Other than the recent outing at Red Rocks, Tiger has never been seen outside of Jim Irsay's house (the current owner), while Wolf has been allowed to come out to play quite often by its owner, Hyatt-family heir and Sonia Dada band member Dan Pritzker. In addition, the Travis Bean TB500 (which is not custom built, but rather a stock TB500 that was later customized) has an aluminum neck, not body. It was also sold at auction ( ) and has been seen lately being played by Steve Kimock.

Lastly, and this is admittedly petty, but you got the "I am a hell of a horn player" quote & attribution incorrect. This story came from John Barlow, longtime friend of the Grateful Dead & Bob Weir's writing partner. It was printed in the Rolling Stone tribute article following Jerry's death in 1995. ( )

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