Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #106867  by BillyBrown1
 Wed Dec 21, 2011 5:05 am
Ok Fellers over the years Iv learned ALOT about Jerry's Alvarez Yairi guitars and I'v always been fascinated with them. Its undeniable they have a coolness factor of 10. 8) From the joint venture of two great guitar company's (Modulus Guitars San Rafael, CA) and (K. Yairi Guitars Gifu, Japan). To the fact that I'v never seen another graphite neck wood bodied acoustic guitar... So I figured i'd brew some coffee, spark a doob, and share it all here in one post. :-) Ok so lets start with Jerry's actual Alvarez Yairi guitars (the guitars custom built for Jerry). To my knowledge theres a total of four guitars. One custom DY99, two custom DY98s and one custom Gy2 all had modulus graphite necks. Those are the guitars that later became Jerry's signature model line of guitars the GY1 and GY2 (Jerry endorsed those guitars but never played them)...he played the customs...Only one of Jerry's actual guitars has surfaced. A 1991 custom DY98 Jerry gave to Ramrod that was auctioned off for 102k at Bonham and Butterfields in San Francisco(2006) when Ramrod died. Where the other three guitars are ? your guess is as good as mine...Ok now onto Jerry's custom DY99 and the other DY98 definitely the most played of Jerry's Yairis. Heres a promo photos from the 1992 Alvarez Yairi catalog Image
Notice how Jerry's custom guitars have neck and headstock binding :shock: I bring this up because one of the other DY99 owners I'v found(and iv only found two) claims he has Jerry's actual dy99...he does not. The good fellers at Modulus told me there were around 15 Modulus neck tree of life DY99s made in 1992 none have neck and headstock binding...Jerry's customs do except for the DY98 he played most with David Grisman now that guitar is easy to identify because it had the dark stained top and the dy88 style headstock with no tree of life inlay...In this video from Grateful Dawg you can clearly see both Jerry's custom D99 and his DY98 with the dy88 style headstock. Its two separate performances edited together Also the scene in Grateful Dawg "In the Living Room" where Jerry and David are working out tunes hes playing the DY98 with dark top and dy88 style headstock.(the coolest guitar of all of em in my opinion) OK now on to Jerrys custom GY2 Iv only ever seen this one picture of Jerry with it and I dont know much more than that other than its the guitar that later became the Gy2 production model designed by Jerry heres the pic Image notice how the guitar Jerrys holding has the Modulus symbol on the headstock and the production guitar does not. Well fellers I hope you found this an interesting read and if anyone else has anymore information I'd love tp hear it :-)
 #106925  by BillyBrown1
 Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:29 pm
Thank Ya fellers glad ya dug the info :-) and as far as the electronics go im not real sure other than Alvarez used the system 400 and 500 acoustic/electric pickups around that time. You can tell by the tone that he's using a under saddle piezo pickup. As far as the signal path I have no idea. Theres def alot better setups out there today. If you want great acoustic tone go with a Neumann km 184 and a good pre.
 #121823  by Ratdog33
 Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:44 pm
Hello Everyone!!,
I own serial # 38060 Yairi DY99 made in 1992:
Some of the unusual specs.:
1.) Unbound fretboard and Headstock
2.) Imperial gold Grovers not standard Grovers
3.) Old growth Brazilian rosewood in bookmatched circular patterns and not straight grained.
4.) Beautifully aged Top with deep amber yellowing
5.) EMG equilized PA sound system pickup with no volume controls, however has a trim pot. inside on the neck block. Trim pot is for Equilization only.
6.) Sounds as good as an acoustic w/ pickup can sound
7.) Serial number is followed by TWO RED STARS
8.) Signed and dated on label
 #121895  by Ratdog33
 Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:00 pm
Hey Poor Peter,
These Specs are for only my DY99, I have seen others but they do not have all these specs.
This is the only one with the EMG PA Ready pick-up system with Trim Pot.
Also have only seen One other with Old Growth Circular Growth Rings in book matched Back of Guitar.
Best Regards,
 #155681  by tigerstrat
 Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:20 am
BillyBrown1 wrote: and his other dy98 Image
Something kept bugging me about this image, and I finally figure out what it is: this is Jerry posing in a wheatfield, not with the "Ramrod" DY98, but with his signature model the GY-1! Check out the individual saddles.

I still haven't found an image of JG actually playing the Ramrod 1991 DY98. Can anyone post one?

And as far as the guitar he played most in his Grisman collaboration, I'm beginning to suspect his 1991 DY99 (tree of life) might actually edge out the 1990 DY98/88 hybrid. Or should call that one a DY98 prototype? or maybe just a 1990 DY98 (dark, unbound neck, w DY88 headstock) vs a 1991 DY98 (like Ramrod's, with the oblong headstock w/ binding... perhaps an ebony veneer as well)?
 #158278  by Ronbow
 Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:50 am
Some great comments. (And how remarkable that BillyBrown1 has had both Modulus models – thanks for the great photos!) Let me add a few observations for consideration.

First, it seems that Garcia performed with perhaps 4 custom Yairi dreadnaughts. I assume that all performance guitars had the Modulus neck.

The 2 most commonly-seen, of course, were the “Squaw Valley” guitar w tulip-style (DY88) headstock, which will be going up on the upcoming Guernsey’s auction this fall, and the Tree of Life DY99.

What is interesting is that the “Squaw Valley” guitar is actually labeled as Model: GY-1, with Serial No. 44162 and Year: 1990. It does have a Modulus neck but has the standard “lotus” inlay on the tulip headstock rather than the Modulus inlay. This leads me to believe that this is in fact a GY1 prototype.

The “Tree of Life” would appear to have the features of the DY99 Virtuoso Custom. These two would be the primary Garcia/Grisman guitars.

Then, there may be TWO DY98s, but this is where it can be a bit confusing. The guitar auctioned at Bonham’s in 2007 looks to be a relatively straight DY98 Virtuoso Graphite, labeled Serial No. 36023, Model Number: Sample #1, Year: 1991.

However, there is Blakesberg photo at the 1989 Aids Benefit of Country Joe and Garcia with what looks to be a standard GY1 Virtuoso Tradition, with “white” spruce top and no logo above the nut. Is this in fact a pre-production GY1, or another custom w Modulus neck but no logo (just as the GY1 “prototype” does not use the Modulus logo), since Garcia did seem to have a real preference for the Modulus neck. So, where you see a shot of Garcia playing a Yairi cutaway with NO logo above the nut, such as the shot in the wheatfield, I’m not sure you can assume it is a GY1 w standard neck rather than a Modulus. Folks who were at Modulus might be able to shed some light.

Finally, re the Jumbo Cutaway, Blakesberg also has photos of what would appear to be a St Louis Music ad / promo shoot at Front Street in November 1994, w the GY2 w Modulus neck and inlay above the nut. This would be the first appearance of the GY2, and I have not seen any photos of Garcia performing with it. The corresponding production model – the GY2 Virtuoso Deluxe – would appear without Modulus neck, but with preamp/pickups.

BTW, while the GY2E could be found online just a few years ago, they are nowhere to be found today.
Last edited by Ronbow on Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:46 am, edited 4 times in total.