I'm the guy playing the F chord "wrong" on Tiger in Irsay's office.
Just wanted to chime in here since there seems to be some intelligent discussion around Jerry's guitars.
I don't know Irsay, but I found a connection to him through a mutual acquaintance and after a 2-year quest I finally got to play Tiger. My proposal to Irsay was a generous donation to one of his favorite charities in exchange for an hour with Tiger. Surprisingly, he declined my donation, but allowed me the visit. Afterward, I ended up making a donation anyway to the Indiana State Museum, where Tiger was on display earlier this year.
Irsay wasn't there, but his personal guitar tech, Chris, was, who was a genuinely nice, humble guy who drove to Irsay's office specifically to let me see the guitar at Irsay's request.
I didn't know if they would allow me to play Tiger and I had no expectations. I would've been happy to just to be in the same room.
What can I say? It was everything I hoped it would be and a lot more. A dream come true. After having played just about every Dead song on guitar for over 25 years, and after having meticulously studied Jerry's technique, slowing down tapes trying to cop licks, etc... it was just awesome.
I asked if we could plug it in and the tech hunted down a 9-volt battery, so I guess they weren't expecting to do that, but he graciously made it happen. There was a Vox amp and just one 1/4" patch cord and that's it, so all I could really do was play through this rig with a clean sound and a little reverb. Definitely not ideal and it was hard to dig in, but in this situation, considering everything, it was more than enough.
I ran through snippets of about a dozen Garcia tunes, including Eyes, Shakedown, Althea, Black Peter, Help on the Way, Franklin's Tower, Scarlet Begonias, Fire, Terrapin, TLEO, FOTD, Casey Jones, and a few others. Althea probably sounded the closest to Garcia's tone given the rig I was playing through.
I was a little nervous and it was hard to focus. I tried not to think too much about the mojo and history around Tiger or else my fingers would probably have locked up. It was pretty intense.
I ran through all the pickups to hear the differences in tone. Again, kind of hard to really appreciate because of the rig and low volume, but I didn't want to overstay my welcome.
The string action was very low, and I know Jerry liked it high, so either someone lowered the action along the way or it just got like that over the years.
For a 13.5 pound guitar, it didn't feel heavy, although I was not standing with a strap, where I imagine you would feel the weight after a three hour gig.
It is a beautiful guitar, and the inlay work on the back is gorgeous. I had seen so many photos of this guitar before, so I kind of new what to expect, but I was surprised to see that there is brass binding along the entire length of the side of the fretboard with fret markets on the brass. There were also numerous holes along the brass that were covered with brass. Maybe this is where Irwin attached the binding to the neck? I dunno.
For the most part, when I posted some photos on Facebook, the response was positive, but I was surprised at how much negativity was out there, too. Some people are just miserable.
All I know is that I know I was lucky, Irsay was very generous and self-less to allow me to do this, and I will never forget it.
I'm writing up a detailed account of the whole thing that I'll post here if anyone is interested, and I have a lot more photos.