Thursday, June 1, 2017

Garcia Guitar Gets $1.9 M at Auction

Jerry Garcia's "Wolf" Fetches $1.9 Million at Auction
A guitar that Jerry Garcia played everywhere from San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom to Egypt's Great Pyramids fetched over $1.9 million at an auction in New York.

The Grateful Dead frontman's guitar - named Wolf - was purchased at a charity auction in Brooklyn Wednesday night. The proceeds are earmarked for the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.
I don't approve, since the SPLC has become a violence inspiring hate group.

The guitar was owned by devoted Deadhead Daniel Pritzker. The philanthropist, musician and film director bought it in 2002 at Guernsey's for $790,000.

The auctioneer says Wolf first appeared in a 1973 New York performance the Grateful Dead gave for the Hells Angels.

Much. much more on this guitar, and all of Jerry Garcia's guitars at this blog post.
The Eagle

From 1973 to 1993 Garcia played the guitar created by Doug Irwin and called Wolf.

Irwin had just started building guitars at Alembic. This was a company run by Ron Wickersham, an electronics and sound expert that previously worked for Ampex, Rick Turner, a luthier and guitarist, and Bob Matthews, a recording engineer.

The company started in a rehearsal room for the Grateful Dead, so there was an immediate connection between Alembic and the band.

As the story goes, Doug Irwin was recently hired by the Alembic company and was building electric guitars for them and he also built some for himself. The first one that Jerry Garcia purchased was known as The Eagle.
Wolf with 3 single coils

This was the guitar that Jerry found when he came from the music store that where Irwin was employed. This guitar had humbucking pickups. At the time Garcia preferred the sound of his Stratocaster with single coil pickups.

Garcia asked him to build him another guitar. Irwin took a cue from this and created The Wolf, which he sold to Jerry Garcia in 1972 for $850. Garcia played this guitar for more than 20 years.

Garcia asked Irwin to optimize Wolf with three single coil Stratocaster pickups. This guitar was made of purpleheart wood and curly maple. The fret board was ebony with 24 frets; longer than Fenders, which at the time only had 22 frets. The first version had a peacock inlay made of abalone, but in subsequent years Irwin changed this to an eagle.

A blood-thirsty cartoon sticker of a wolf adorned the body. This gave the guitar its name.

In later years the middle and bridge single coil pickups were swapped out for humbuckers. This was an easy change because Irwin configured the pickups on a metal plate. In fact it was Irwin who created both plates for the guitar.

The pickup selector is the five position strat type. The guitar features a master volume control and a tone control for the middle and front pickups. Two mini switches on the guitar are pickup coil switches, to choose between humbucking and single coil. There are two ¼” phone jacks. One goes to the amp and the other goes to Jerry’s effects loop. There is also a mini switch to toggle the effects loop on or off.

The electronics are accessible from a plate on the guitars back side and they are shielded.

The tuning machines are Schaller’s and made of chromed nickel as is the bridge. This was the first guitar Irwin built that had the D shaped headstock that he used on other guitars he made as his trademark. On the headstock was the inlay of a peacock done in mother-of-pearl.

While at a concert the guitar fell about 15 feet off of the stage and this caused a small crack in the head stock. Doug Irwin took this as an opportunity to replace the head stock with ebony veneer and a mother-of-pearl inlay of an eagle, which by now had become Doug Irwin’s signature. Jerry Garcia used the three single coil pickup plate up until 1978 when he had the single coil neck pickup and twin Dimarzio Dual Sound humbuckers for the middle and bridge positions.

Almost immediately after Garcia received The Wolf he commissioned Doug Irwin to design another guitar. This new guitar is the one that would come to be known as The Tiger
Here's Wolf in action at Winterland in 1974

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