jerry garcia

“The first one I put my signature on the back of the headstock, I had to sit and look at it for a little bit, taking it in.”

Photo by Han-Su Kim

Following a long road from Saskatchewan to California, this master builder lands in Corona, to painstakingly reproduce Jerry Garcia’s “Alligator’ and other gems.

Like everything in the Grateful Dead’s orbit, each of Jerry Garcia’s stage guitars has been pored over by Deadheads, with data on their usage rivalling baseball-stat-level analysis. Dedicated fans can hear the differences between each of these iconic instruments—not just because of their tones, but in the type of music and playing they inspired. So, it’s only natural that each 6-string has its own subset of fans. Some love to hear and see Wolf and Tiger—custom instruments built by Doug Irwin, both of which have their own merch, including T-shirts, hats, and miniature replicas. And some prefer Garcia’s deep-cut Travis Bean era. A large cadre of others prefer Alligator, the Stratocaster that Graham Nash gave to Garcia as the Dead embraced cleaner, country- and folk-inspired sounds.

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