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Bonhams to Auction Jerry Garcia Guitars

The highly anticipated auction will offer one-of-a-kind memorabilia, including original and rare works by Garcia and guitars designed specially for him.

San Francisco, CA (April 16, 2012) – Nearly 17 years after the passing of Grateful Dead lead guitarist, singer and songwriter Jerry Garcia, worldwide auction house Bonhams will present its Visions of Garcia auction, May 8 (the 35th anniversary of the famous 5-8-77 Cornell show) in San Francisco, the band's home town. The highly anticipated auction, also simulcast in New York, will offer one-of-a-kind memorabilia, including original and rare works by Garcia and guitars designed specially for him.

Instruments on offer will include a well-known Garcia acoustic Takamine guitar, as seen on the album covers for Pure Jerry Vol. 8 and Ragged But Right, played from 1985-1988 for acoustic shows (est. $100,000-$150,000); an Ibanez guitar, designed for Jerry Garcia by Ibanez and Bob Weir in 1977 (est. $50,000-$60,000); and a Billy Kreutzmann drum set (est. $10,000-$15,000). 

Here are more details on the guitars, courtesy of Bonhams:

A Jerry Garcia stage-played, acoustic guitar made by Takamine, ca. 1985 6-string acoustic guitar, Serial Number 84111605, Rosewood back and sides, spruce top. Includes case, Jerry's guitar strap, pick and two discs featuring the guitar on the covers.

The first disc, Ragged but Right is the second live album by the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band and was recorded in October and December 1987 at the Lunt Fontanne Theater in New York City, the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles and the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. It was released on November 16, 2010, twenty-two years after the band's first album, Almost Acoustic. The second disc is Pure Jerry Vol. 8. Also included in this lot is a DVD of the December 17, 1987 performance at the Warfield Theater with John Kahn, Bob Weir and Joan Baez featuring the Takamine acoustic guitar.

Jerry played this guitar from about 1985 until 1988, including during the famous Lunt Fontanne shows in October of 1987, The Christmas show on December 17, 1987 and the Bridge School Benefit in 1988. This was his main guitar with the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band.

The Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band existed from the summer of 1987 to the summer of 1988, and played fewer than 30 concerts. Led by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, the band included three members of the 1964 bluegrass band the Black Mountain Boys - Garcia on guitar and vocals, David Nelson of the New Riders of the Purple Sage on guitar and vocals, and Sandy Rothman on mandolin, dobro, banjo, and vocals - plus long-time Garcia collaborator John Kahn on acoustic bass, Kenny Kosek on fiddle, and David Kemper on snare drum. This is also the acoustic guitar featured on the recently released Almost Acoustic.
41 x 15 x 5 in.
Est. $50,000-$100,000

A guitar designed by Ibanez in conjunction with Jeff Hassleberger and Bob Weir, ca. 1977 6-string electric guitar by Ibanez, MC500/SP, light and dark woods, with mother-of-pearl inlay, brass, black plastic and mother-of-pearl fixtures. Original aluminum guitar case lined in green velvet, with silver clasps, showing wear.

MC500/SP, presented to Jerry at the 1978 North American Musicians Show, being the "Tree of Life" prototype guitar for the Musician Series produced thereafter by Ibanez. With letter of provenance written by Bob Weir and witnessed by Jeb Scherb. 38 x 13 in. (guitar); 43 x 20 x 8 in. (case); 16 x 13 1/2 in. (frame for letter)
Est. $50,000-$60,000

A Jerry Garcia modified practice guitar A six-string, small, blue solid body electric guitar, with "Steal Your Face" logo on head, including Jerry's blue guitar strap and amplifier cord, with brown and white leather and plastic guitar case lined in red velvet, Simple Minds and The Pretenders backstage laid in case. With autograph letter signed by Rock Scully detailing the history of the guitar.

Provenance: Rock Scully
35 ½ x 11 ½ in. (guitar); 38 x 12 x 4 in. (case)
Est. $10,000-$15,000

An illustrated catalogue for the sale will be available online in the preceding weeks, for review and purchase at

Auction preview: May 4-7 in San Francisco and April 11-16 in New York
Auction: May 8, San Francisco, simulcast in New York