Coming Soon: On-spec Left-handed Jerry Garcia ‘Wolf’ Tribute Guitar From Eastwood Custom Shop

January 15, 2020 5 min read

Coming Soon: On-spec Left-handed Jerry Garcia ‘Wolf’ Tribute Guitar From Eastwood Custom Shop

In 2002, when luthier Doug Irwin auctioned off the ‘Wolf’ guitar he made for Jerry Garcia for $700,000 it was the highest price ever paid for a guitar. Then, in 2017, when the Wolf Guitar was auctioned again, this time it went for $1.9 million for charity! 

Eastwood Guitars is offering a limited edition custom shop Wolf Guitar Tribute model, available in a left-handed edition that are scheduled for October arrival. The photos of the prototype released by Eastwood Guitars are amazing and we can’t wait until they arrive in our shop! 

History of the ‘Wolf’

Jerry Garcia was generally discontented with the limited tonal palette available from most production level guitars. He was looking for one guitar that offered a variety of tones and textures that he could access at will, whenever the music called for it. For this reason, he approached the luthiers working at that time for Alembic Guitars and purchased one of their instruments. By 1973, he had gotten in touch with famed luthier Doug Irwin who created the guitar that would eventually become known asThe Wolf

The Wolf Guitar made its first appearance with Garcia  at a private party for the Hell’s Angels on September 5th, 1973. When Irwin delivered the prototype to Garcia, he was very anxious to see how he would react to it. The 1970‘s was a time of great musical experimentation, and Irwin understood that the guitar would go probably through several stages of evolution, which is exactly what ended up happening. While the guitar was initially embossed with a peacock logo, followed by Irwin’s eagle logo, it was the blood-thirsty wolf sticker Garcia that placed on the guitar that actually stuck and when Irwin repaired the guitar for Garcia after it had taken a 15 foot fall onto concrete, Irwin incorporated the Wolf into the design, finally giving the instrument its iconic identity.

Jerry Garcia played the Wolf throughout the 1970‘s and was featured in the 1977 Grateful Dead film, but it was soon replaced in Garcia’s lineup by other Irwin made guitars that would garner equal acclaim. The Wolf was briefly taken out of semi-retirement in 1988 when Garcia was involved in MIDI-Synthesizer experiments and was last played with the Grateful Dead at the Oakland Coliseum February 23rd, 1993. 

After a brief legal dispute, Irwin won the rights to the guitar back and auctioned it in 2002 to Daniel Pritzker, a philanthropist, musician and filmmaker, who originally purchased the guitar anonymously in that year for a hefty $790,000. At the time, it was the highest bid for a guitar in history. Pritzker is quoted in Rolling Stone in 2017: “I have been a fan of the Dead since I was a kid, and playing this iconic guitar over the past 15 years has been a privilege...But the time is right for Wolf to do some good.”

In 2017 Pritzker auctioned the Wolf for $1.9 million, setting a record and helping toraise over $3 million for charity. 

The Tech Specs

Garcia’s Wolf guitar would prove to be decades ahead of its time. Wolf was made from purpleheart and curly maple, with a 24-fret ebony fingerboard adorned with African ivory inlays and specially bound  on each side with four lamination’s of maple, purpleheart and ebony. With authentic neck-thru-body design and purpleheart and curly maple body, the Wolf has incredible sustain. 

The Wolf was first built with a set of Strat single coils, but Irwin knew that this setup wouldn’t last long. On his website, Irwin wrote: “The 70’s were a time of evolution in guitar pickup design, so when Jerry got a new guitar, there was usually a period of experimentation. Then, from time to time Jerry would try new pickups, but once he found what he liked, he usually stuck with it. Sometimes Jerry felt that an old set of pickups. would get “tired”, so I’d change them out for new ones.”

Jerry Playing Original Wolf With Strat Singlecoils Early '70's

Outfitted with a five position pickup selector blade, a master volume and a tone for each pickup, the Wolf guitar would end up with an array of inputs, switches and assorted gadgets that were way ahead of their time. As Irwin explains on hiswebsite

“The two subminiature switches set side by side are the pickup coil switches. There are two 1/4″ phone jacks. One went directly to the amp, and the other to Jerry’s effects loop, with the master volume located after the effects loop. There is also a subminiature switch to toggle the effects loop in or out. The electronics cavity accessible from the back plate is shielded from the electromagnetic field with silver print. The chrome-nickel tuning machines and bridge are made by Schaller (W. Germany). The switch plate, pickup plate, back plate, guitar serial number plate (located on the back side of peghead) are all made of solid brass and are chrome-nickel plated.”

In 1978, Garcia settled on DiMarzio pickups, two Super II humbuckers and a HS II single coil and had a buffer/fx loop added. 

Jerry Garcia's Wolf

The Eastwood Custom Shop Wolf Tribute Guitar

Eastwood guitars has created an extremely faithful replica of Garcia’s Wolf guitar, complete with coil taps and effects loops, and the final result is a high-end, professionally playable left handed instrument that you can take on tour yourself.

Made in Korea -- not China -- this lefty Eastwood Custom Shop Wolf Guitar features a distinctive double cutaway body made with Walnut and Maple with a gorgeous Natural finish. The c-shaped Maple and Walnut neck is built with an authentic neck-thru-body design, giving this Wolf lefty incredible tone and copious sustain. 

Eastwood Wolf Prototype

When it comes to the tone and the sonic capabilities of his guitars, Jerry Garcia always wanted to have as many options as possible. The Wolf Guitar was groundbreaking when it was first developed for its mind-blowing array of electronics with which it was outfitted. Featuring two Super II humbuckers in the bridge and middle positions, and a HS II in the neck position with coil tapping capabilities, this lefty Eastwood Wolf Tribute guitar features an active Built-in Transwarp Drive Preamp with OBEL Effects Loop, Switchcraft Jacks, 1 Volume, 2 Tone, and a 5-Way pickup selector switch, allowing you to blend an array of pickup tones and built-in effects to get any sound you want. 

The hardware components add to the luxurious feel of this incredible lefty custom shop guitar including a TOM bridge with Gotoh nickel and chrome tuners for accurate intonation and stable tuning.

Please Note: Eastwood will NOT include the Wolf sticker as shown on these images. You can obtain them from their official licensee. Decals are available on Amazonand other online outlets.

We have ordered 3 lefty Eastwood Wolf Tribute guitars and anticipate that they will fly out of here, so if you are interested please contact us fast!  Click here to Pre-order! 

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