In The Style Of Bob Weir

By Miguel Ángel Ariza

We have to talk today about the dead, specifically one very alive, Bob Weir, the man who played 'the other' guitar of the Grateful Dead. Jerry Garcia had all the fame, and his death in 1995 made him forever a legend, while Bob Weir took all the girls (it seems an honor that no one in the band can argue with him). Weir has carried the legacy of 'the dead' over these last twenty years by reliving their songs along with other original members of the band and sharing these lysergic ceremonies with other artists so idolized by Guitars Exchange such as John Mayer and Johnathan Wilson.  

He made himself known to the world by using the same guitar as Jerry Garcia back in the 60s, a Guild Starfire IV; but soon found in a Gibson Es 335 of 65 the sound that was going to characterize him as a rhythm guitarist and that, therefore, was going to define the sound of the Grateful Dead in what we consider his golden years, that is, the late 60's and early 70's.

Years later he would collaborate with the Japanese brand Ibanez to create a signature model that ended up being crystallized in the 2681 model. This is quite similar in appearance to a Gibson SG, a guitar that he also used during the mid 70's. It is not the only signature model that we find in his career; currently the brand D'Angelico also has a model with his signature: the Premier Bob Weir SS Signature.

The next step in search of the perfect sound for the band was again led by Jerry García. They both switched to custom guitar models made specifically for them by different constructors. It is more than likely that both guitarists looked for very light weight electric guitar models because, remember for those not versed in the career of the Grateful Dead, they toured almost every night with concerts that stretched for hours. When you do that and the years start to weigh heavy, there comes a time when you are going to have to have a conversation with yourself; and its a conversation in which you are likely to end up losing.

Certainly slightly lighter are the acoustic guitar models that have gone through his hands, like one of his countless Martins, or some of his nylon string guitars like the Alvarez Tairy WY-1.

Finally, it should be noted that in the last years of the Grateful Dead, both Jerry García and Weir switched to MIDI guitars, the iconic Casio PG-380. It is curious that artists who have one of these vintage instruments (that so attract us common mortals) from the beginning, or can acquire them with just one call end up leaving them at home. While millions of people seek to imitate the sound of their oldest records, they, faithful to their free nature, continue to search for new sounds that lead them to new songs, and continue with that endless tour in which Bob Weir has now been immersed for five decades.

Find you own way to the tone of Bob Weir