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Jerry Garcia’s Takamine

Sunday Aug 9th was the 25th anniversary of the death of Jerry Garcia.

Dead Head or no, the genius of Jerry Garcia has likely enhanced the soundtrack of your life. One good example being the iconic steel guitar part on CSNY’s, Teach Your Children. David Crosby asked Garcia to play on the record, not because Jerry was an accomplished steel guitarist. Jerry had only been playing steel for a short while. Crosby called on Garcia because Jerry was recording with the Grateful Dead in the studio next door…and because he was Jerry Garcia. 

Jerry sat at the steel and recorded two takes for “Teach Your Children”. The fluid, melodic perfection we hear on the record, was the first.

Jerry’s affinity for acoustic music was deep rooted. He began playing acoustic guitar in 1961 and was off and running as can be heard in one of his first acoustic bands, the Hart Valley Drifters. In fact, Jerry often spoke about how his electric guitar style was heavily influenced by his four years of playing primarily acoustic guitar.

In 1985 Jerry purchased a Takamine EF360C (now P5DC-NAT from Takamine’s popular Pro Series 5). According to Carolyn Adams Garcia, Jerry’s ex-wife known to many as Mountain Girl, “Jerry played the Takamine extensively and it traveled with him for years, appearing with him on album covers and in photographs of shows from the mid 1980’s to early 1990. He used it for recordings as well as shows and while practicing at home”.  Caroline said Jerry loved the Takamine and latched on to it as his #1 acoustic.

The spruce top, rosewood back and sided dreadnought cutaway configuration remains a Takamine mainstay to this day.

When Garcia was asked about his acoustic guitar setup in a 1985 interview by Jas Obrecht for Frets Magazine, Jerry replied; “I use an off-the-shelf Takamine. I don’t know what the model is, but it’s a dreadnought cutaway with three slider controls — a high and low boost, and volume. I have it set up like an acoustic guitar, with significantly heavier strings and higher action. I just run it into the board and I get the nice qualities of tone — the pretty features of an acoustic guitar. I don’t think I would do these shows if it weren’t for the technological advances made with the amplified acoustic guitar. I’ve never had any luck at all with acoustic guitar and microphone”.

The technological advancement in his “off-the-shelf” Takamine Jerry referenced was the innovative high output, in-bridge Palathetic pickup system developed by Takamine in 1978 – the  same pickup still used in every acoustic-electric guitar hand-crafted in the world class guitar factory at the foot of Mount Takamine.

Caroline kept Jerry’s EF360C at home after Jerry’s passing where it was occasionally played, admired and enjoyed by family and friends as a treasured friend. In 1998 Caroline reached out to Takamine for our assessment as to the guitar’s insurable value. All we could offer was that since it belonged to Jerry Garcia and been played extensively by him, there was absolutely no telling. In March of 2012, Jerry’s Takamine EF360C (SN 84111605) along with strap and case, sold at auction for $62,500.

Guitarist Neal Casal said of Jerry; “There is no one who ever created music with the combination of intelligence, intuition, depth, creativity and humor than Jerry Garcia. His work and life will continue to be a limitless inspiration for us all”. We agree.