Some History of Jerry Garcia Amps.

Compiled By Michael Wald

***Just to note this does not cover in depth any of Bears early sound landscaping.***


Jerry Garcia Fender of choice was the Fender Twin Reverb. Early in the Grateful Dead's infancy Jerry only used the amp in it's stock form as a combo amp.

" My First Amplifier with the Warlocks was a Fender Twin Reverb. I bought it in the first year they came out, around 1963 or 1964, I guess. It may actually still be in use. I sold it to Mike Wilhelm of the original Charlatans." J.Garcia - Guitar Player 1978 Interview

The Warlocks 1965


Sausalito 1966 (Rehearsel)


In 1967 Jerry switches to 2 amps, a Fender Twin and Showman Head which fed a 2-15" speaker cabinet.



By 1968, the amps consisted of a Showman Head and 2 Fender Twin Reverbs. By this time, modifications were done to the amps by Owsley Stanley and Ron Wickersham to boost the output and stabilize the power supply of Leo's original design as well as to keep them as noise and hum free as possible. Mods like the Potentiometer Upgrades(AB Type J/RV4), the zener diode bias regulation and Allen Bradley Cathode Bypass resistors were used(Wickersham). Also, at some point in this time period the beginning's of the Alembic Company began to Preamp Tap the Twins and Showmans , as well as having their Tube Power Sections tapped into and used as "Slave" units. This practice was only used for a very short time and the exact dates are unknown. The Alembic Preamp Taps were then fed, first to Dynaco MK III's for a short time, and then to Mcintosh MC75's which fed the external cabinets. Ron Wickersham stated that the same power tube used in the Dynaco's produced considerably more power in the MC75's. The speakers in the actual Fender Twin cabinets were not used.

Newport Pop Festival August 4, 1968


From 1969 thru Europe 1972 he moved to 3 Fender Twin cabinets with the 2 - 4-12" Extension speaker cabinets. In the Stack of Twins, the top one utilized both the Normal and Vibrato preamps.

Woodstock 1969

Fillmore East 1970

Poynette, Wisconsin April 26, 1970


Gaelic Park Aug 26, 1971


Copenhagen 1972

Later in 1972, Jerry powered his speakers with a Healy/Wickersham Modified Mcintosh MC3500 tube power amp. The input buffer stage of the MC3500 was bypassed and the Twin's Preamp signal was fed straight to the Output Stage. Zener Diode Bias Regulation was also used in an attempt to keep the Power Tubes from dimpling which eventually created a hole which then caused the vacuum to be lost. Wickersham stated he advised McIntosh about the issue but they refused to address his concerns. This configuration was really short.

Late 1972


By 1973 he was using the MC2300 solid state amplifier for power with a single Fender Twin Reverb cabinet with both Vibrato and Normal channels Preamp tapped. Normal Channel was used for monitoring.

Watkins Glen July, 1973

RFK, 1973

Alembic Guitar Player Interview

From the early day's up to the end of the "Wall of Sound" in 1974, the work done to Jerry's Twin(s) was done by Alembic and the "Alembicization" were said to be performed on all GD road amps. During the "Wall of Sound" he used a Blackface Twin, Alembic Preamp Tap. Both channels were jumpered together with a jumper cable from the Vibrato channel Input 2 to the Normal channel input 1. The Guitar used input 1 of the Vibrato channel and the jumper cable connection allowed for the one signal to pass to both preamps. Each channel was preamp tapped seperately to each side of an MC2300. The Normal Channel was used for stage monitoring. A Budweiser "Bud Man" Sticker is placed on Jerry's MC2300 and this particular amp becomes a favorite of his that he would use almost throughout the rest of his onstage performances.

1974 - The Wall of Sound


1974 - Budman & RamRod


After the "Wall of Sound", and subsequent hiatus, Alembic was no longer in charge of the gear but was used for maintenance, from time to time, mostly for instrument work. During the hiatus in 1975, Jerry begins using a Mesa Boogie Mark 1A preamped into an MC2300. However, at the Orpheum Rehearsels between May 27th and July 12, 1976 an MC3500 can be seen in his rig as well as an MC2100 on top of his speaker cabinets and 2 Mesa Boogie Mark 1's . He eventually moves to 2 Mark 1's preamped to MC2300's up to the Fall of 1976.

September 28, 1975


The Orpheum Rehearsel June 1, 1976(possibly May 28,29 or 30th)

The MC3500 reappears with the Boogies.


October 3, 1976


The Fender Twins, Blackface and Silverface, arrive in the fall of 1976 both housed in a modded Twin cabinet. The primary Twin used at this time was the Blackface(With Master Volume) and the MC2300 was used for power. The JBL K120 was the speaker of choice. This setup was used for the rest of the seventies thru the eighties, with the Silverface (No Master Volume) preamp becoming the primary sometime around 1982. With the trade deal lost with Rhodesia in 1979 the worlds supply of Cobalt forced speaker companies to change from Alnico Magnet speakers. For Jerry the move to JBL E120 ceramic magnet speakers began sometime in 1980.

Oakland Stadium October 8, 1976

This configuration with the Blackface as the Primary Preamp was used from this point up until 1982.


"My second amp was also a Twin Reverb. I'm still using it, but only as a preamp. From the preamp it goes to a Mcintosh 2300 that drives 4 JBL 12" speaker. It's simple and gives me another point of stability. The more elements you have stable, the more you can concentrate on your playing and not be continually adapting your technique to your equipment." J.Garcia - Guitar Player 1978 Interview


During 1982 Jerry starts to use the Silverface Twin as his primary preamp.

Frost 1982


US Festival 1982

In Sept 1982 at the US Festival "Breakfast with the Dead" Budman, Jerry's MC2300, overheats and is replaced with an MC2500 which was placed on top of it for the remainder of the show.......



Spring and Summer 1983

Fall 1983 Budman Returns













In Fall 1989 and through Spring 1990 Jerry is seen using a Crest 8001 Power Amp that sat on top of his Mc2300(Bud Man). By the Summer Tour 1990 it was not used again.

Fall 1989


Spring 1990






The Fender Twins were retired in 1993 when Jerry began to use a Groove Tubes Trio preamp and Real Tube Reverb units direct to the soundboard. The Grateful Dead began to use an IN-Ear monitoring system which also retired the use of the MC2300 and JBL E120 loaded speaker cabinet onstage, but JGB shows still utilized them and that is why Jerry's "90's" rack to this day still houses an MC2300. There was various techniques used in handling the TRIO's output to the board such as Speaker Cabinet Simulators, as well as offstage/onstage Mic'd Speaker cabinets.








The "90's" Rig



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