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Fender Custom Shop unveils the Jerry Garcia Alligator Strat

Fender Jerry Garcia Alligator Stratocaster
Master Builder Austin MacNutt with his Fender Jerry Garcia Alligator Stratocaster (Image credit: FMIC)

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.

Fender Jerry Garcia Alligator Stratocaster

(Image credit: FMIC)

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.”

Fender Jerry Garcia Alligator Stratocaster

(Image credit: FMIC)

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.

It’s a piece of American history

Austin Macnutt, Fender Master Builder

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.

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab)Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.