The late great Jerry Garcia of Californian experimental psych-rockers The Grateful Dead would have been 75 this week. The influential guitarist, and founder member, fronted the band for the whole of its 30 year career before suffering a fatal heart attack in 1995. To mark his birthday, luthier Thomas Lieber has created the Ocean guitar, a sustainably crafted instrument that's completely free of plastic.
The Ocean guitar project is the result of a collaboration between the Jerry Garcia Foundation and Lieber, who co-created Garcia's guitar of choice between 1979 and 1989 – Tiger – with Doug Irwin. Designed to be "a symbolic vehicle for the Jerry Garcia Foundation," this one-off creation is based on the Wolf guitar that recently sold at auction for US$1.9 million and boasts quite an eco-friendly checklist.
The twin-horned body and 22 fret neck were both fashioned from sustainable curly maple, with the wood components stuck together using non-VOC adhesives. The natural look is thanks to a Tung Oil finish.
Hardware such as the tuners, bridge, switchplate and nut are made from non-plated brass, steel or bronze, while the pickup bobbins come in fiberboard with Alnico magnet poles. Lieber even used cloth covered wire for the electronics. Finally, a Garcia Fish etching has been recreated for the neck inlay.
The Ocean guitar will now be played at benefit events in aid of causes supported by Garcia, starting with a concert in support of ocean conservation later this month.