Jerry Garcia’s 'Alligator' Fender Strat is hitting the auction block

(Image credit: courtesy of Bonham's)

Back in 2017, Jerry Garcia’s custom 'Wolf' sold at auction for $1.9 million. Now another of Garcia’s famed electric guitars, 'Alligator', is going on the block.

The guitar is the headline item at Bonham’s Alligator!: A San Francisco Rock Star’s Guitars, Art & More auction, which is being held December 10 in Los Angeles.

Alligator, a Fender Stratocaster with a build date of 1955, was gifted to Garcia by singer Graham Nash in 1970. It became Garcia’s primary instrument between 1971 and 1973 and can be heard on the beloved Grateful Dead triple live album, Europe '72.

In addition to a swamp ash body, maple neck and natural finish, it features several stickers on its body, including the dancing alligator holding a knife and fork that gave the guitar its nickname.

(Image credit: courtesy of Bonham's)

Like virtually all of Garcia’s instruments, Alligator had numerous external and internal modifications done to it over the years, carried out largely by Alembic’s Frank Fuller and Rick Turner. Among them were replacement Schaller tuners, a customized brass control plate and a brass sustain block mounted on wood riser.

Bonham’s also reports that Alligator was originally fitted with a custom-made blaster preamp, which is no longer present, and that some of the wiring has been altered since Alembic's work on the guitar in the '70s, with all of the subsequent modifications made to the guitar while it was still in Garcia's possession.

Alligator is being sold in a red plush-lined hard case containing a "Manny's / Heavy" guitar pick, with a "Good Ol' Grateful Dead" sticker to the outside. 

The guitar is expected to fetch between $250,000 and $400,000.

For more information on Alligator – and also on Alligator!: A San Francisco Rock Star’s Guitars, Art & More – head to Bonham’s.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.