Jerry Garcia's Fender Stratocaster

The Evolution of the "Alligator"

Written By: Ray Tuholski

Edited By: Mike Wald


Version 1.0


1957 Fender Stratocaster given to Jerry by Graham Nash

Swamp Ash Body & Maple Neck/Fretboard

The original Strat as it was when Graham Nash gave the guitar to Jerry Garcia. No modifications and no stickers. It can be seen in the photos from the GP April 1971 article. The interview and photos were taken at The Matrix February 2nd or 3rd 1971.


Version 1.1


(Added - Black Mil Spec Knobs)

Stock white Fender knobs replaced with Black Mil Spec"Raytheon" Knobs.

Herouville, France - June 21, 1971


Version V1.2


Work Performed by Frank Fuller

(Added - Modded Pickguard w/Hammered Brass Control Plate, Scalloped Brass Nut, Schaller Tuning Pegs/Gears, Custom Brass String Tree Bar on the Low E, A, D, G Strings, B and high E Strings have the Stock String Tree, Stock Frets Removed and Tallest available added, upgraded Mil Spec Allen Bradley/Clarostat Potentiometers, Silver Paint Shielding of all cavities to include the inside of the Plastic Pickup Covers, Trem Springs and Claw removed and Bridge was blocked with wood and epoxy)

Custom Brass String Tree Bar added to lower the attack point of the strings at the nut, due to the Height of the Schaller Tuning Pegs/Gears. The Brass Control Cavity Cover was Hand Hammered and cut by Frank Fuller. The Plastic Pickup Covers were Silver Painted inside and around the height adjustment screws, as well as Copper Foil shielded on the inside tops over the pickup poles. Each Pickup Cover had it's own individually grounded wire. This allowed for no String Ground and eliminated any possibility of Jerry being shocked onstage{think woodstock}.

Why was the Brass Control Plate added?

"Right after i started doing guitars for the Garcia band. Jerry was playing an old Fender Stratocaster, and the plastic plate that holds the knobs broke while he was playing and they all fell off the guitar. We had to rig up a quick template on the spot. ~GP July 1988 -Steve Parish~

Gaelic Park 08/26/71


Version 2.0


Work Performed By Frank Fuller

(Modifications - Modded "Gibson ABR-1" Tune"o"Matic Bridge w/Thumbscrew Height Adjustment, Custom Made Brass Bar & Brass Clamped Tailpiece, Trem cavity Re"Blocked")

The Gibson ABR-1 Tune"o"Matic Bridge first appears sometime around March 5, 1972. Frank Fuller custom fabricated the Brass Tailpiece. The Tailpiece is a Brass bar stock drilled out for the strings with Brass Clamps holding it in place on Both Sides. The Trem cavity was Re"Blocked" to fill the Tremolo cavity hole on top and accomodate for the installation of the new bridge.

**Note** - Stock Jackplate

"Keep on Truckin" Sticker on body


Version 3.0


Work Performed By Frank Fuller

(Added - Onboard Alembic Blaster(post volume control), Brass Plate under the Stock Fender Jackplate)

Ron Wickersham custom designed the Blaster for Jerry Garcia. This primitive Blaster had no switch and was used in an "Alway's On" state. The Brass Plate under the Stock Jackplate was used as a battery compartment and it's cavity was routed out to accomodate it.

Keep on Truckin' Sticker, Harley Davidson sticker on body, Gator Sticker appears between 6/17 - 7/16



Other Strats used on various dates from 8/27/72 thru 11/26/72 and Spring '73

Version V4.0


Work Performed By Frank Fuller

(Modifications - Rick Turner Designed, Frank Fuller Fabricated Brass Bridge, Brass Sustainer Block underneath the bridge and a wood riser underneath the Tailpiece, New Offset Brass Control Plate-non hammered)
Final Bridge change happens sometime in late 1972, Brass Control Plate is offset to accomodate the added Brass Sustainer Block. The tailpieces wood riser slightly goes unde and butts up against the brass sustainer block.(see drawing below)


Keep on Truckin' on body, Harley Davidson sticker on body, Alligator Sticker on Pickguard. Unidentified sticker on upper horn, later removed .


Gator is retired from stage use. Last used 8/1/73. Wolf V1.0 Appears 9/5/73

Version 5.0

( ??/??/197? - Not Believed to have been played onstage)

(Modifications - 2 controls {tone} present and 1 missing{volume}, white stock Fender knobs, and string ground added outside the body)

This final version of "Alligator" was not seen in the wild in any photo. The missing pot from the Volume position MAY have been scavenged and used in another guitar.The Black Mil Spec Knobs were believed to be put on Early Wolf. The 3 controls(1 volume, 2 tone) are present for every incarnation of the guitar from V1.1 thru V4.0, 8/71 thru 8/73

Harley Davidson sticker on body, Policeman's Helper sticker, Alligator Sticker on Pickguard

Owned today by the Jerry Garcia Estate

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