The importance of Jerry Garcia (opens in new tab) to 1960s counterculture and beyond cannot be overstated.
As a founder, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist of psychedelic rock pioneers Grateful Dead, his far-reaching influence continues to inspire countless musicians today.
And when it came to guitars, Garcia’s experimental approach to modifying instruments did much to help kickstart the now thriving custom guitar industry.
One famous example is the so-called Alligator Strat.
Gifted to him by Graham Nash, Garcia took the fabled electric guitar on “the most iconic tour of the Grateful Dead’s history: Europe ’72 (opens in new tab),” according to long-time friend and roadie Steve Parish (opens in new tab).
“There’s a lot I can tell you about this guitar,” said Parish. “I’m very lucky because I got to work with Jerry to take care of his guitars.
“Jerry played a lot of guitars and a lot of Strats but he never had a favourite. Fender, Fender, Fender everything.
“He played a Fender Twin Reverb (opens in new tab) because he loved it, and we collected every Fender we could buy. But this guitar quickly became his favourite.”
Acquiring its moniker from the alligator sticker located on the pickguard, this Alembic-modified Fender was fitted with customised hardware including Schaller tuners, Gibson ABR-1 Tune-o-Matic and Alembic custom bridges, and a hammered brass control plate.
Previously thought to be a 1957 Stratocaster (opens in new tab) model, Master Builder Austin Macnutt soon discovered it could in fact be dated to 1955.
Thus, the new replicas have been fitted with hand-wired ’55 Strat single-coil pickups, augmented by Garcia’s post-volume “blaster” boost circuit.
“It’s a piece of American history,” highlights MacNutt. “And there’s a lot of things on it that are not Strat DNA.”
In the latest episode of Fender’s Dream Factory series, MacNutt introduces the new Jerry Garcia Alligator Stratocaster along with Parish…
Visit Fender (opens in new tab) for more information.