Garcia’s Wolf Guitar

Garcia's Wolf Guitar

Photo by Doug Irwin
Jerry Garcia’s “Wolf” Guitar, San Francisco, 1972–1973
Amaranth (purpleheart) and maple wood, gaboon ebony laminate, Dunlop nickel-silver wire, sterling silver, annelid dyes, African ivory, mother of pearl, and brass.

Jerry Garcia played many guitars during his career, but he favored the one-of-a-kind instruments custom-designed for him by luthier Doug Irwin. Garcia said, “There’s something about the way they feel with my touch—they’re married to each other. … I’d never felt anything before or since that my hand likes better.” “Wolf,” the second Irwin-designed guitar Jerry owned, was crafted from purpleheart and curly maple with an ebony fingerboard and twenty-four frets. The guitar was named for the cartoon wolf sticker that Jerry placed below the tailpiece. Irwin later inlaid a wolf design into the body of the guitar.

“Wolf” is on display at the Skirball Cultural Center and is part of the “Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution”—the first-ever retrospective about the life and times of the renowned music industry impresario. The exhibit runs until October 11. Be sure to check it out!