“Jerry Garcia’s “Lightning Bolt”. Black walnut core, East Indian rosewood top and back, laminated East Indian rosewood and maple neck, laminated headstock, 24-fret Brazilian rosewood fretboard, black Schaller hardware. Phenomenal sound thanks to the genius who played it. Lightning Bolt design is mother of pearl.” —Original description by Steve Cripe and transcribed by Hal Hammer, Jr.
Cripe was clearly influenced by Irwin’s “dog ears” body style and sandwiching of body layers on Rosebud (below) and Tiger (right):
Seven layered body from the top: Cocobolo, maple, cocobolo, maple, cocobolo, maple, cocobolo..
Cripe’s Lightning Bolt
Five layered body from the top: East Indian rosewood, maple, black walnut, maple, East Indian rosewood.
Cripe’s creativity was in complementing Irwin’s design with a nine-ply laminated neck through the body construction.
Lightning Bolt’s laminated neck through the body design.
He also added a volute, the bulbous mass of wood at the base of the headstock. It has alternating rosewood and maple laminates. The volute added balance, structural integrity and sustain to the guitar.
Lightning Bolt’s Volute.
In addition, he created a distinctive headstock with a three-pronged asymmetric design at the top.
Lightning Bolt’s Headstock
Garcia with Irwin’s Tiger.
“Cripe hadn’t known that the oval-shaped body inlays on Doug Irwin’s Tiger and Rosebud concealed their batteries, so (Gary) Brawer had to remove the Lightning Bolt inlay and put it on a cover-plate."—Baker Rorick, Guitar Shop
Lightning Bolt weighs 10.6 pounds and has a 25 1/2” scale from nut to bridge. It measures 40 1/8 “ from top to bottom. The top, back and headstock veneer are East Indian rosewood from an Asian opium bed.
The remains of Cripe’s opium bed at Resurrection Guitars workshop. The shorter pieces to the left are purpleheart, which Cripe used on some of his other guitars.
Cripe wore out his VHS copy of the Grateful Dead video “So Far” using the freeze frame feature to fashion a guitar after Irwin’s Tiger.
So Far, Courtesy of Grateful Dead Productions