Jerry Garcia’s 1943 Martin D-28 Acoustic Guitar Finds a New Home—and New Players

From the September/October 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By Blair Jackson

Andy Logan is more than a guitar collector. Yes, he owns instruments with historic pedigrees—like the two axes he picked up at a Bonham’s auction in December 2019 from the estate of Jerry Garcia. His marquee purchase was Garcia’s famed “Alligator” Strat, for a whopping $420,000. But that day he also picked up Garcia’s well-worn 1943 Martin D-28 for a more modest $175,000. It’s cool owning original instruments played by your heroes, but Logan’s Grateful Dead obsession goes much further. 

As a guitarist himself, and a man of means, to put it colloquially, Logan has spent enormous sums amassing as many Garcia- and Bob Weir–connected guitars as he can—tracking down precise makes/models/years, and also commissioning builders to create exact clones of the incredible custom instruments the guitarists played in the band, “trying to have a representative version of all their guitars, from ’65 to ’95,” he says. And it’s not to put them in some museum. He has given away clones to jam-band guitarists, loaned out others, and even lets guitarists play the originals he owns—under his supervision. “They’re all meant to be played,” says Logan emphatically. His nonprofit Grateful Guitars foundation assists in matching instruments with players.

Jerry Garcia Martin D-28. Photo by Becky Logan

Garcia’s D-28—Adirondack spruce top, Brazilian rosewood back and sides—was likely acquired by the guitarist in the late spring of 1970, before his group’s famous trans-Canada train trip with The Band, Janis Joplin, Delaney & Bonnie, et al., immortalized in the film Festival Express. It also turned up during the Dead’s acoustic sets that summer and fall, and it was likely Garcia’s acoustic on the Dead’s landmark American Beauty, and on some non-Dead sessions in the early ’70s. “Jerry gave away a lot of his acoustics, so the fact that he had held on to this one means a lot,” Logan says.

The guitar’s pre-Garcia history is unknown. It has replacement tuners, bridge pins, saddle, and nut. “It looks like it had an old pickup on it,” Logan adds, “probably before Jerry owned it, because it has two areas on either side of the soundhole where the wood had been filled, which would have been where controls for a pickup would have been.” 

How does the D-28 sound? “Amazing!” Logan enthuses. “You play the beginning of ‘Ripple’ on it and it’s that sound… just incredible!”

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