Jerry Garcia

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Description: Jerry Garcia EDIT

Jerome John “Jerry” Garcia (August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995) was a musician, songwriter, artist, lead guitarist and vocalist of the psychedelic rock band the Grateful Dead.

Garcia played many guitars during his career, which ranged from Fender Stratocasters and Gibson SGs to custom-made. Garcia used about twenty-five different guitars.

In 1965, when Garcia was playing with the Warlocks, he used a Guild Starfire, which he also used on the debut album of the Grateful Dead. Beginning in late 1967 and ending in 1968, Garcia played various colored Gibson Les Pauls. In 1969, he picked up the Gibson SG and used it for most of that year and 1970, except for a small period in between where he used a Sunburst Fender Stratocaster.

During Garcia’s “pedal steel flirtation period” (as Bob Weir referred to it in Anthem to Beauty), from approximately 1969 to 1973, he played a ZB Custom D-10 steel guitar. He also played a Fender Pedal Steel prior to the ZB Custom.

In 1972, Garcia used a Fender Stratocaster nicknamed Alligator for its alligator sticker on the pickguard. The guitar was given to him by Graham Nash. He continued using Alligator until May 1973, when he received his first custom-made guitar from Alembic. The guitar was nicknamed Wolf for its memorable sticker.

Wolf was made with an ebony fingerboard and featured numerous embellishments like alternating grain designs in the headstock, ivory inlays, and fret marker dots made of sterling silver. The body was composed of western maple wood which had a core of purpleheart. Garcia later had luthier and former Alembic employee Doug Irwin replace the electronics inside the guitar with a system similar to a Fender Stratocaster. It included a system of two plates for configuring pickups: one was made for strictly single coils, while the other accommodated humbuckers. Quickly after receiving the modified instrument, Garcia requested another custom guitar from Irwin with the advice “don’t hold back.”

During the Grateful Dead’s European Tour, Wolf was dropped on several occasions, one of which caused a minor crack in the headstock. Garcia returned it to Irwin to fix; during its two-year absence Garcia played predominantly Travis Bean guitars. On September 28, 1977, Irwin delivered the renovated Wolf back to Garcia. The wolf sticker which gave the guitar its name had now been inlaid into the instrument; it also featured a few new electronics as well as a new coat of finish.

Nearly seven years after he first requested it, Garcia received his second custom guitar from Irwin in 1979. It was named Tiger from the inlay on the preamp cover. The body of Tiger was of rich quality: the top layer was cocobolo, with the preceding layers being maple stripe, vermilion, and flame maple, in that order. The neck was made of western maple with an ebony fingerboard. The pickups consisted of a single coil DiMarzio SDS-1 and two humbucker DiMarzio Super IIs which were easily removable due to Garcia’s preference for replacing his pickups every year or two. The electronics were composed of an effects bypass loop, which allowed Garcia to control the sound of his effects through the tone controls, and an amplifier which rested behind a plate in the back of the guitar. In terms of weight, everything included made Tiger tip the scales at an impressive 13½ pounds. However, this didn’t deter Garcia from using it as his principal guitar for the next eleven years.

In 1990, Irwin completed Rosebud, Garcia’s third custom guitar. It was similar to his previous guitar Tiger in many respects, but featured different inlays and electronics, tone and volume controls, and weight. Rosebud, unlike Tiger, was configured with three humbuckers; the neck and bridge pickups shared a tone control, while the middle had its own. Inside of the guitar, a Roland GK-2 synthesizer was used in junction with GR-50 rack mount, producing the MIDI effects heard during live performances of this period. Sections of the guitar were hollowed out in order to bring the weight down to 11½ pounds. The inlay, a dancing skeleton holding a rose, covers a plate just below the bridge.

In 1993, carpenter-turned-luthier Stephen Cripe tried his hand at making an instrument for Garcia. After researching Tiger through pictures and films, Cripe set out on what would soon become known as Lightning Bolt, again named for its inlay. The guitar used Brazilian rosewood for the fingerboard and East Indian rosewood for the body, which, with admitted irony from Cripe, was taken from a 19th century bed used by opium smokers. Built purely from guesswork, Lightning Bolt was a hit with Garcia, who began using the guitar exclusively.

Sources: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Jerry Garcia Official Site

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Comments: Jerry Garcia

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Jhguitar (about 4 years ago)

Did you guys check out the Grateful Dead Europe '72 app?
It has killer solos from Jerry.

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