John Mayer receives a prototype replica of Jerry Garcia’s iconic Wolf guitar – watch him play it during Dead & Company’s last-ever tour

John Mayer and a prototype replica of Jerry Garcia's Wolf guitar
(Image credit: John Mayer/Instagram / Dead & Company/YouTube)

John Mayer has unveiled the latest addition to his enviable electric guitar collection – an all-new prototype replica of Jerry Garcia’s iconic Wolf guitar, which the Sob Rock star has taken on the road for Dead & Company’s last-ever tour.

Flexing his latest piece on Instagram, Mayer said he wanted to give fans a glimpse of the guitar prior to the supergroup’s first gig of 2023 last Saturday (January 14) so that those who attended didn’t mistake it for the real deal.

Built by Bill Asher of Asher Guitars, the replica Wolf was commissioned by Doug Irwin, the mastermind behind Garcia’s original guitar, and was reproduced with access to all of Irwin’s original design blueprints.

“I’m honored to have received the prototype of a very special guitar,” wrote Mayer. “Doug Irwin, the luthier who built Jerry Garcia’s famous 'Wolf' guitar, commissioned the great Bill Asher to faithfully recreate the original using all of Doug’s original drawings and templates. 

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“The result is pretty unbelievable,” he continued. “How unbelievable? I have to make sure to post this before tonight’s Dead & Company show to make sure people don’t mistake it for the real thing!”

Mayer is a particular authority on the Wolf guitar and one of the best players to test-drive Asher’s replica, having played Garcia’s original axe in 2019. Though the guitar was sold at auction in 2017 for $1,900,000, Mayer was given the opportunity to play it to honor Grateful Dead’s music two years later.

“I can confidently say Doug and Bill nailed it,” Mayer concluded. “It shall always be played with love for this music and a culture that’s accepted me with open arms. See ya on stage…”

True to his word, Mayer gave Asher’s Wolf replica plenty of action during the band’s gig at last Saturday’s Playing In The Sand festival in Cancun, Mexico. In fact, he used it right from the off, starting the set with a cover of Grateful Dead’s Sugar Magnolia.

Preview footage from the band’s two sets can be found on Dead & Company’s official YouTube account – the whole set can be purchased from nugs.net – with footage also showcasing Mayer using Wolf 2.0 for a rendition of St. Stephen.

In some photos from the event, Mayer can also be seen donning his over-the-ear headphones, which he started using during Dead & Company gigs in 2021 as they gave him “more of a dynamic touch on the guitar”.

Since the replica is identical to the original 1974 Wolf, that means it features a purple heart body with bookmatched curly western maple on the top and back. Elsewhere the fiddleback maple and purpleheart neck runs through the length of the body, with the original’s removable pickup plate also returning.

Mayer’s example is one of only 10 replicas to be made by Asher and, owing to the guitar’s heritage, it comes as no surprise that all 10 have already been sold.

“The Irwin-Asher 'Wolf' guitar, limited to only 10 masterfully built instruments, will be among the finest replication of this iconic guitar played by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead,” a statement on Asher Guitars reads. “Using Irwin's original templates and drawings, 'Wolf' will also be crafted from Irwin's private 30-year-old stash of figured maple. 

“This replica will embody all the classic tones, contours, and details of Jerry's original, combined with Asher's unique artistry and craftsmanship,” it continued. “Limited to only 10 builds, which sold out in a matter of days, each will be accompanied by a signed Certificate Of Authenticity, as well as a hard-cover pictorial book of the Irwin-Asher journey.”

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To find out more about the replica, head over to Asher Guitars (opens in new tab).

Dead & Company’s current tour will be their last one ever, after it was announced that the group will be disbanding later in 2023. The tour will bring about an end to the project after eight years, which have seen Mayer share the stage with Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann.

Visit Dead & Company’s website (opens in new tab) for a full list of upcoming dates.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.