||DI: So they developed those names and in 1989 when I finished another guitar for him--the one that|
|became 'Rosebud', it has the skeleton saint on it. The skeleton saint in the act of repelling death. He|
|said, " Well what's the name of it?" and I said, "Listen, I just did the inlay, you got to come up with the|
|name." So he decided to call it 'Rosebud', and I was really pleased that he picked that name. It made|
|me think of Citizen Kane. The significance of Rosebud was, Rosebud was the name of the sled that he|
|was sliding on when the people came and took him from his natural parents. What he really wanted was,|
|that was the last thing he said when he died, they wanted to know what the significance of Rosebud was,|
|well Rosebud was the thing that he most wanted but couldn't seem to have. I thought it was really|
|interesting that Jerry picked that name for the guitar.|
|SQ: What kind of wood was Rosebud made out of?|
|DI: Rosebud was built in the same materials as the Tiger is. It's kind of a duplicative of it, although it's|
|not quite as ornate as the Tiger.|
|DI: After a while, I complete the fifth guitar for him, Wolf Jr. which was one that he never really used|
|much on stage or anything, it's a guitar that doesn't have a head because it has an unusual tremolo system|
|on it. It's a Steinberger Trans Trem, and it uses strings, it has a ball end on each end of the string. So it|
|didn't have a peg head on it.|
SQ: What's the advantage of having the two string ends like that?
DI: Well the idea was trying to come up with a tremolo system that would actually, because the tremolo allows somebody to lower the pitch of the strings by dropping the tension on it, but hoping that this whole thing that's all spring-loaded is going to come back to exactly the same place is at best a hope.
SQ: That's a long shot.
DI: Yeah, it's a long shot, so there were people that were trying to find some way to make the tremolo system work·
SQ: Floyd Rose, for instance?
DI: Well yeah, but Floyd Rose doesn't really solve the problem. Although there are some problems that Floyd Rose does solve because it's a problem when you break a string and you got to put another string on there because they'll all hooked to the same bridge. Well once you put another string on and retune it, then all the other strings are out of tune. That was one of the things, a lot of people liked the idea of the tremolo on a guitar, but as far as using it and hoping that it came back into exact pitch was hoping a lot. Some musicians are really pretty good at making that work, but Jerry was really exacting, he had to have the notes right. It couldn't be an eighth of a note off. So he never really used the tremolo very much, but he had me build the prototype of that, to see if we could solve the problems there were.
SQ: It was an experiment in progress then?
SQ: Why was it called Wolf Jr.?
DI: It looked very similar to the Wolf except it doesn't have a peg head, but it's the same body style and it's made out of similar maple. I just really couldn't think of what to do at the time, so I just decided that we'll call it Wolf, Jr. and there's an inlay that I made for it but I never got a chance to put on it yet, of Wolf, Jr. The Wolf is like, it's like a kid. It's made out of the same materials and everything, but instead of being like the 19-year old looking Wolf, he was like the nine-year old looking Wolf, so it's got kind of a goofy look on his face. That's Wolf, Jr. I thought eventually this could evolve into its own cartoon.
SQ: What type of Wood was Wolf, Jr. is made out of?
DI: It's made of Peruvian Walnut and Maple. All these guitars are 25-1/2" scales, which is the Fender scale as they call it, which is the length of the string from nut to bridge, whereas Gibson is the other common guitar scale which is 24-5/8" so you're talking about almost an inch, 7/8" difference between them. A little bit longer scale means you have to have a little bit higher tension on the strings to get the same note and it might give you more definition in some notes. But it's neither here nor there because it's all music, it's not perfect anyway.
SQ: What kind of hardware did you use on the guitars--tuning pegs, bridges?
DI: I used a lot of Schaller stuff, exclusively Schaller tuning stuff on all of Jerry's guitars.
SQ: Any particular model number?
DI: Well the M6, M6G because I got the gold-plated.
Jerry had an unusual body chemistry. Of all the people that I've worked
SQ: What effect did that have?
DI: Actually it was kind of interesting because
he can eat through chrome nickel plating in three weeks. I'm not kidding
SQ: I wonder what caused that to happen?
DI: Well, just the fact that human beings are all
similar, but we're all different. Body chemistry from individual to individual
varies quite a bit. The gold tuning gear was really, I mean that's one
of the reason that I used Shallers because they really do incredible plating
and stuff like that. When they do gold plating on something, they don't
fool around. The gold really lasts a long time, they use such a nice shade
of gold, too. There's 21 colors of gold in natural shades. But Germans
are really good at making metal
SQ: Have you built other instruments besides electric guitars?
DI: Acoustic guitars, I've worked on a whole bunch
of different acoustic instruments. I've worked on Chinese bass banjos.
Well, I've built one, oh jeez I can't even remember the names of things
right now, but I built a loop-like instrument, I built a couple
SQ: I hope you get your shop together soon.
DI: I'm definitely going to, I'm really looking
forward to it too because in the last three years, it's forced me to be
a lot more resourceful not having any tools or machinery to work with,
but I don't let it stop me from keeping me working. I found that I
SQ: You just need a space to get it together?
SQ: What kind of tools do you use when you build instruments?
DI: I have a lot of heavy machinery, I have a surface
planer and a band saw and a big table saw, a joiner, a router-shaper,
a bunch of stuff like that. You have to re-saw your wood to begin with
into what you want. To get really choice wood, you have
SQ: So, you start out with logs?
DI: Well, I just started out with slabs on the
coca-bola that were dragged out of the jungle on mule back. I cut the
stuff down, I have a lot of stuff that I cut that I have stored. Because
seasoned wood is really important for musical instruments. It's important
because if you're going to put a lot of time into making something, you
want to make it out of something that's really stable. If a piece of wood
survives the first three or four years without cracking and stuff like
that and it's dried properly, then it's probably going to be around for
several thousand years and still be in good shape. There's Chinese furniture
that's 5,000 years old that looks like it's brand new, and it still has
the original black beetle finish on it. They made lacquer out of black
beetle wings. The
SQ: How did these guitars interface with, the incredible sound systems that Jerry played through over the years?
DI: One of the things Jerry did, and that's what
he had me do, he had me originally do it with the Wolf, was put a Roland
|SQ: An oboe sample?|
|DI: Yeah, they'd sample an oboe, but they measured|
|the parameters of sound a lot more extensively than|
|notated music does, and writing music is not an easy|
|thing to do either. All those little notations that tell you|
|what it's going to sound like before you even hear it.|
|It's quite an art writing music. It's pretty amazing.|
|A lot of music was written in times for musical|
|instruments that didn't exist yet, which is pretty|
|amazing. People wrote whole parts of symphonies|
|for instruments that weren't even there yet.|
|SQ: Talk about tools for the imagination.|
|DI: Yeah, it's pretty amazing stuff. I think music is one|
of the more worthwhile endeavors that man has found.
SQ: You and Jerry worked a lot together with these guitars. Did you guys hang out together and brainstorm about these things?
DI: No, not really.
SQ: He gave you free reign---"Here's a guy I can trust, go do it" is that the way it was?
SQ: Do you have any anecdotes about Jerry that you want to recount?
DI: I didn't really hang out with Jerry a lot, but I'd see him at shows because I had the backstage pass so I could get up on stage and all that. Jerry was--one of the things I really liked about Jerry so much was--he was just such a real person. It used to amaze me because I'd seen it happen quite a few times, people would come into a room and there'd Jerry be sitting and they'd go, "you're Jerry Garcia." After you heard that 10,000 times, you got to start coming up with some different things to say. Jerry used to come up with something different every time.
SQ: Do you remember any of them?
DI: Off hand I can't really remember any. But he
came up with a whole bunch of different responses, the kind of things
people would say. People would be dumbstruck and say, "You're Jerry Garcia!".
"Okay well tell me something else I didn't know? Oh really?" Jerry was
such a real person and you could sit down and talk to him just like anybody
else. He was real commonsense and very understandable. He just had a lot
of warmth in talking to him. He was easy to talk to. Jerry was a great