Fender Custom Shop unveils limited edition Jerry Garcia Alligator Stratocaster

Master Builder Austin Macnutt named it “a piece of American history”

Fender Custom Shop has unveiled a limited edition Jerry Garcia Alligator Stratocaster, built by Master Builder Austin Macnutt.

The model honours Garcia, Grateful Dead’s founding member, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, with only 100 of its kind available to purchase. It emulates the original characteristics of Garcia’s guitar with its famous alligator decal and replicated wear spots.

Before building, Macnutt was able to take apart the original model to take exact measurements to ensure the detail was up to scratch, and whilst doing so uncovered that although Garcia’s model was long assumed to be a 1957 Strat, it dated back to 1955 having been marked with a signature and date at the top of the neck.

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Macnutt labelled the guitar as “a piece of American history”, noting “ there’s a lot of things on it that are not Strat DNA.” Macnutt’s build comes with new Schaller tuning pegs and gears, a series of bridges such as Gibson ABR-1 Tune-o-Matic and an Alembic custom, a new control plate made with hammered brass, and taller frets. It also has hand-wired ’55 Strat single-coil pickups, replica “hat” control knobs, and an in-board post-volume “blaster” boost, which Macnutt notes makes it “sound like Jerry”.

Guitar tech and longtime friend of the Grateful Dead, Steve Parish, also sat down in a video with Fender to talk about the Alligator Strat. “Jerry played a lot of guitars and a lot of Strats but he never had a favourite,” He said. “He played Fender Twin Reverb because he loved it, and we collected every Fender we could buy. But this guitar quickly became his favourite.”

You can take a closer look in the video below, which features both Macnutt and Parish, as well as maestro Daniel Donato:

Garcia would have turned 80 this year. The models will be built to order and are set to retail at $20,000. Find out more here.

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