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July 2013 | Blog Archives

A Long, Strange Trip: Pete Sears' One-of-a-Kind Bass Guitar, "Dragon"

Monday, July 1: 12:29 p.m.
Posted by Greg Harris
Pete Sears with his long-lost custom bass guitar named "Dragon"

In June 1978, Pete Sears and his Jefferson Starship bandmates narrowly escaped a riot following a cancelled concert in Germany. Amid the chaos, much of the band's gear was left behind, including Sears' one-of-a-kind bass created by famed luthiers Doug Irwin and Tom Lieber – the men responsible for Jerry Garcia's most iconic instruments. Sears never played the guitar live, and he never thought he'd see it again. Thirty-five years later, however, the missing bass has resurfaced. 

While a member of Jefferson Starship in 1976, Sears commissioned Irwin and Lieber (the latter working at the Doug Irwin Custom Shop) to build a custom bass dubbed "Dragon." Grateful Dead fans will recognize the work of both artisans, as they had hands in creating a series of iconic Jerry Garcia guitars, including "Rosebud," "Lighting Bolt" and "Tiger," which were all exhibited as part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Grateful Dead: The Long, Strange Trip exhibit that was on view from April 12, 2012 to March 24, 2013. 

The bass' resemblance to Garcia's famous guitars was no coincidence: the designers used the same piece of wood as Garcia's "Tiger" to build Sears' "Dragon ...


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