Tiger Guitar by Doug Irwin for Jerry Garcia
Tiger Guitar by Doug Irwin for Jerry Garcia

“Tiger” – 1973

Immediately after receiving the “Wolf” guitar from Doug Irwin in 1973, Jerry Garcia commissioned “Tiger,” telling Irwin to make the most extravagant instrument he was capable of. The instrument—composed of highly figured exotic woods that are sandwiched and laminated together and embellished with ornate brass bindings and the inlay of a tiger—took Irwin about two thousand hours of work to complete over six years. Garcia first played “Tiger” on August 4, 1979, at the Oakland Civic Auditorium, and he used it almost exclusively until 1989. It was the last guitar Garcia played publicly with the Grateful Dead, at a performance on July 9, 1995.

Technical Description:

Cocobolo top and back, sandwiched maple and padauk core, quilted maple on back, three-piece flame maple and padauk neck with brass binding; ebony fingerboard; 25 in. scale; natural finish with brass binding; neck through body with mother-of-pearl inlays, “J. GARCIA” inlaid at end of fingerboard, and brass binding; brass-bound headstock with mother-of-pearl globe and ivory eagle logo; mother-of-pearl tiger inlay framed in ebony and brass on front of body, brass-bound quilted maple circle with mother-of-pearl vegetal inlay and marquetry on back; two humbucking pickups and one single-coil, five-way selector switch, two volume controls and one tone control, two coil tap switches, effects loop output and on/off switch, unity-gain buffer; brass pickup mounting bracket, bridge, tailpiece, tuners, knobs and control surfaces

Content from the “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 8th-October 1st, 2019

Guitar Details

  • Luthier: Doug Irwin
  • Client: Jerome John “Jerry” Garcia
  • Date: 1973
  • Medium: Cocobolo, maple, ebony, padauk, ivory, brass, vermillion, mother-of-pearl
  • Dimensions:
    Length: 40 in. (101.6 cm)
    Width: 12 7/8 in. (32.7 cm)
    Depth: 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm)
  • Weight: 13.5 lbs

Photographs courtesy: Herb Greene

Photos of Jerry Garcia Playing Tiger (various photographers)

Steve Parish Talks Jerry Garcia and the Tiger Guitar

A Day with Jerry Garcia’s Tiger Guitar – Video

2 Responses

  • Pure n concise trip through the Entire Tour!”
    Would Love to find out how to order a “Tiger,” T
    shirt, for a dear friend. He Happened the opportunity
    To place an order for a (Tiger), model…..Most Beautiful
    Work of art ever seen!! Quite heavy but perfectly balanced.
    He didn’t just stop there he “delved into the “(inner),” sanctum of the exact set up that Jerry had!!!!
    UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!! ON THE MONEY!!! Time’s gone by, still buds need to suprise him with a Tiger T.
    Let me know where to start?..Happy Trails

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