Spotlight Exhibit: Jerry Garcia's "Rosebud" Guitar

Written by: Rock Hall

Among Jerry Garcia's most well-known electric guitars is the unique instrument dubbed "Rosebud."

Built for Garcia by luthier Doug Irwin, who had previously worked for Alembic guitars, it was the fourth guitar that Irwin had made for the Grateful Dead's charismatic vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. 

While Irwin had named the guitar "the Saint," noting that the large inlay below the bridge was "a skeleton in the act of repelling death," Garcia changed the name. Nobody is entirely certain what inspired the "Rosebud" moniker, though Garcia's interest in film and the rose in the skeleton's mouth have been conjectured as possible explanations.

Garcia first played the guitar in 1989, and it was his main stage guitar until 1993. 

In this video, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer shares the story and details behind Garcia's famous electric guitar, which was featured in the Rock Hall's Grateful Dead: The Long, Strange Trip exhibit, which closed on March 24, 2013.