Jerry Garcia's guitars top 500K at auction

Bonhams and Butterfields' Tuesday, May 8, 2007 auction of Grateful Dead memorabilia from the Ram Rod Shurtliff Collection fetched more than $1.1-million today -- garnered from competitive bidding on telephones and in the crowded San Francisco auction room. Top lots of the day included guitars played on stages and in-studio by Jerry Garcia, original art used on album covers and equipment and collectibles associated with the Grammy Award-winning band.

Jerry Garcia's Guitars

Lawrence ‘Ram Rod’ Shurtliff, long-time Road Manager and President of the Grateful Dead’s corporation, passed away in 2006. The property on offer was consigned for sale by his son Rudson Shurtliff.

Spotlighted in the sale were Jerry Garcia-played instruments including an electric guitar custom-made by noted San Francisco guitar-maker Doug Irwin in 1971, known as “The Eagle.” It sold for $186,000. A circa 1975 Garcia electric guitar made by Travis Bean has been seen in numerous photos, played on stages as well as in studio recording sessions – the cream-colored guitar sold for $312,000 (est. $250/300,000). It was offered with its custom black leather case and several collector treasures: Garcia’s Vinci guitar strings, a tuning fork, a string winder and an unopened pack of Garcia’s cigarettes (Camel non-filters). A buyer paid $102,000 for a Jerry Garcia acoustic guitar and $39,000 was paid for a Garcia Gibson electric.

Pictured L-R: A circa 1975 electric guitar made by Travis Bean. A Jerry Garcia electric guitar custom-made for him by Doug Irwin, 1971. An electric guitar by Gibson, (L-5 S), circa 1974. Individual Photo Credits: Bonhams.


(details provided by auction house)

Travis Bean Guitar

The body is made of koa painted a crème color with two black plastic pick-ups noting "Travis Bean," and a silver metal pickguard. The neck is made of silver metal, the fretboard made of ebony with ten iridescent mother-of-pearl rectangular-shaped inlays. The headstock is silver metal with a pressed-stamp reading "715."

Doug Irwin Guitar

The body is made of curly maple (and other exotic woods) with a purple heart center and stained sides with two black plastic pick-ups noting "Hi-A." Between the pick-ups, there is a slot that Ram Rod routed out to insert an additional pick up that was never installed.

Garcia's slide from the late 1960s is inside the electronics compartment to add weight, per Garcia's instructions, along with a few of Ram Rod’s son, Rudson's, fishing weights. (When the guitar is picked up, these weights can still be heard, moving around inside);

The fretboard is made of ebony with ten iridescent mother-of-pearl inlays depicting Sanskrit symbols. The headstock has an iridescent mother-of-pearl inlay depicting an eagle in flight. A small brass placard on back of headstock reads "D. Irwin 025." The back body panel has three inlays (two silver symbols plus the Alembic Studios logo) as well as the serial number which reads "GD [Grateful Dead] 025." The original strings from the last time Garcia played it (even the High E string that he broke) are still attached.

Gibson L5S

The top and back is made of maple with a cherry sunburst finish with two gold-metal pick-ups that note "Gibson." The bridge notes "L5S." A small enamel disc on the body displays the Porsche logo.

The fretboard is made of rosewood with ten abalone rectangular-shaped inlays. The headstock has two abalone inlays; one depicting a flaming cup and the other the Gibson logo.

Jerry Garcia’s circa 1973 stage-worn tooled leather guitar strap by Nudie’s, “Western tailors to the stars,” sold for $20,400, quadrupling its estimate, while a flight case filled with Garcia’s picks, never-opened guitar strings and other accessories sold for $16,800.


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Spammers are lower than pond scum and toliet film.

these are not jerry's guitars moron

Gerrys geetars were creamated and set free in the Ganja river in Jamaica

Jerry Tech

Any of these guitars depicted are most certainly,or should I say were definately owned and played by Jerry!The Travis Bean,Which has an Aluminum neck,was used on the road by Jerry for a few years in the early '70s.,after he put his Strats aside.The name Doug Irwin and Jerry's guitars are synonymous.He was Jerry's favorite luthier.He made most of his axes,eg,Wolf,Eagle ,Tiger,Rosebud,etc.The last one that he recieved from a very talented fan,was carbon-fiber construction and sported "The Lightning Bolt" where the Tiger logo would have been.Just the fact that in the auction notes they mention Vinci strings is more than enough to convince anyone in the know!!

Jerry Garcia's guitars

The Lightning Bolt was built by Steve Cripe, an amateur luthier from Florida. It was Jerry's favorite until his death. Cripe died in a fireworks explosion, after building less than 30 guitars. The wood for the 'Bolt came from a 100+ year old bed from an opium den. The rest of Cripe's guitars, finished and unfinished, went to Pat O'Donnell of Resurrection Guitars, who completed and sold them. You can see his work on Facebook at Resurrection Guitars, and the rest of Steve's guitars at The guitars of Steve Cripe. I own the Headless, and have a picture of it on my own Facebook page.


I'm writing The Encyclopedia Of Jerry Garcia Music Venues. I'm interested in locating a hi res photo of Headless. I'd need it at least 1mb or larger. Are you the owner? I thought Grateful Dead Productions owned it.
I've got a list of 88 musical instruments Garcia owned. I'm trying to add a photo of each one to the encyclopedia along with whatever information I can find on the instruments.
Please email me at

Thank you

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