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Lot 0065
Jerry Garcia's one-of-a-kind 1990 Alvarez-Yairi Prototype guitar. Serial #44162, model GY-1. Cedar top, rosewood back and sides, graphite neck.

Made specifically for Garcia, this guitar was used on all seven of Jerry's albums recorded with mandolinist David Grisman. The two together were billed as Garcia/Grisman. It was also played by Jerry live at the Gold Coast Concert Bowl on August 24, 1991, in Squaw Valley, the Warfield Theater in San Francisco in 1991, and he can be seen playing it in the movie "Grateful Dawg," a documentary that investigates the deeply rooted friendship between Garcia and Grisman.

The back is in pristine condition and features one geometric shape line, which runs down the bottom of the body. The headstock features a stylized tulip and an intricate "A" design in mother-of-pearl inlay. The backs of the tuners also feature the same "A" design. The lacquer is slightly chipped or bubbled in spots at the bottom of the body, and at one small spot on the bottom left corner of the headstock. The guitar measures 40 x 15.5 x 4".

The black leather case measures 43 x 17 x 5". It is in worn fair condition due to the heavy usage from Garcia, to the point that some of the edges show the wood underneath the leather. The case's interior is lined in yellowish-orange velour. Interior is in good condition with minimal wear.

Alvarez was established in 1965 by St. Louis Music. In the late 1960's, the company began working with Kazuo Yairi, a master luthier. The Yairi factory, in the small town of Kani, in the hills north of Nagoya, Japan, has produced guitars for 80 years. The late Kazuo Yairi was one of the finest and most successful luthiers his time, and helped to design and make Alvarez-Yairi guitars for nearly 50 years.

From the consigner, regarding this guitar: "I was fortunate to work with, and get to know, Jerry Garcia in his final years when I recorded sessions for the seven acoustic albums he created with mandolinist David Grisman. You can hear Jerry playing this Alvarez guitar on all seven of the Garcia/Grisman albums, including their eponymous Garcia/Grisman and subsequent albums Not for Kids Only, Shady Grove, Been All Around this World, and Pizza Tapes. It was a great honor to work with this duo. It was also a huge turning point in my life.

"The story of my ownership of this guitar starts with David Grisman. I met David in 1990 in Mill Valley, California when I was working as a live mix engineer with a band that included David's son Monroe and Creek Hart, son of Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. I was just starting out as a recording engineer, so when David called me up and said, "Hey, a friend of mine just came over, can you come round and record us?" I said "Sure." The friend turned out to be Jerry Garcia.

"So started a musical collaboration that produced Jerry's finest acoustic recordings. It was also a collaboration that gave me the scope to gain confidence in my craft. I was still quite inexperienced, but Jerry's kind nature created a comfortable and nurturing atmosphere in which I was given free rein to learn and experiment. The sessions were very intimate, most times just Jerry, David and me. It was Jerry's escape. He would say, "If anyone calls, tell •em I'm not here."He liked the Alvarez because its neck and action were kind to someone more used to an electric guitar.

"During breaks in the tracking, I would often play the Alvarez in front of the microphones to fine-tune their placement. One day, Jerry asked me what kind of guitar I played and I said a "lousy one". That's when he offered this guitar to me. "Here, take this one," he said. That was Jerry all over. He was warm and genuine, very funny, smart and well spoken. I've treasured this guitar. Any marks were made by Jerry's music making. I envy the future owner."


Guitar good condition, some wear.

Case is worn from heavy usage, in fair condition.

Buyer's Premium

  • 25%

Jerry Garcia Acoustic 1990 Alvarez-Yairi Guitar

Estimate $100,000 - $150,000Dec 2, 2017
65 East 93rd Street
New York, NY 10128
United States
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