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Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

name, city, instrument, years of playing, current band, gear
 #138259  by Tonetodiefor
 Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:49 am
Greetings from West Marin!

I found the forum by doing some research on Doug Irwin. I have been playing bass since 1968 (age 13). A number of basses and amps passed through my hands by the time I met Dough in '76. My younger brother had Doug do some custom work on his Les Paul Junior. It was about a year later in the summer of '77 when we both decided to have him build a bass for me and a guitar for my brother.
I took delivery of my bass in '80 and my brother took delivery of his guitar in '82 after Doug mysteriously disappeared with his fully paid for guitar only partially complete (not wired or setup). It was a miracle my brother ran into Doug's wife on the streets of Santa Rosa one day which led him back to Doug and the retrieval of his guitar. We believe these were the very last two instruments Doug ever completed.

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I have been in love with my bass since I saw it begin to take shape. It's been my go to bass ever since I set my hands on it and I've tried many many basses that don't come close to the tone or playability of the Irwin. It's currently equipped with ACG preamps/filters and EMG's. The original configuration had Stars Guitars bass preamps and Bartolinis.
My main bass rig has been a Mesa 400 and a Road Ready 215 kicking the low end and a Hiwatt Dr103 and 412 crunching the high end and effects. Recently I've been playing through a two preamp Genz Benz 9.2 Shuttle Max 900W head and two 1288t- Uber. Quads. I often used Moog Taurus Pedals along with my bass and also keyboards when playing live.
I've gigged with a number of Marin based bands over the years and was very busy during the 70's and 80's both locally and touring the states. Family life became more important to me than the dream of being a rock star so in the early 90's I took a hiatus to raise my children and focus on starting a business that would allow me more time everyday with my family.
Recently I've picked up the bass, guitar and keys and have begun to reconnect where I left off. To this day I still love the Irwin bass and have been playing the Irwin guitar as well. Both instruments are certainly works of art and I look back at the wonderful time in the 70's where such talented luthiers like Doug were building their brand of artwork here in the North Bay.

One major reason I'm posting here is to find a local expert to help me appraise these two rare instruments. If anyone can point me in the right direction, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Thank you!

Jeff
Last edited by Tonetodiefor on Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
 #138262  by tatittle
 Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:56 am
Hey Jeff,
Thanks for sharing your story, and welcome to the forum. There are many qualified folks here who will be very interested in these authentic Irwins. Sometimes it takes a day or so for people to check in, but you have come to the right place.
 #138263  by TI4-1009
 Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:28 pm
Jeff- WOW! Welcome and thanks for posting the photos and info on the Irwin guitars. Glad you found us here. Interesting, beautiful- and historical!

(now the obligatory request for "gut shots" of the electronics) :-)
 #138265  by tatittle
 Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:44 pm
Fat poles on the guitar's single coil...looks like a Seymour Duncan quarter pounder.
 #138276  by James-T
 Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:45 pm
Welcome aboard!

The back of that Irwin guitar is about the coolest thing I've seen in terms of an instrument design in a long time. Really original and totally stunning. The brass work is also spectacular. I'm guessing it is a very hard instrument to put a value on. Marketed to the right collector in a really good economy your heirlooms will be worth a lot more than having to unload it in an estate or fire sale.

I'm glad you found the love of playing music again. :-) Music + Love + Peace = Happiness, but it doesn't hurt to throw in a Doug Irwin masterpiece to help skew the equation. :smile:

Peace,

James
 #138279  by TI4-1009
 Mon Apr 14, 2014 5:44 am
Jeff- is the other cavity on the back of the guitar just a hollowed out area?
 #138280  by tatittle
 Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:12 am
I have no experience with valuing one-of-a kind guitars like this; you know the adage about "its worth whatever someone is willing to pay".
Considering Garcia's Eagle auctioned for like $125k in a very good market, and the market is far softer now, I would start my guess in the 20k range if one was patient and did sufficient advertising.
 #138315  by Rusty the Scoob
 Tue Apr 15, 2014 2:13 pm
Awesome instruments!

It's not in nearly as nice of a bass but I have an EMG/ACG combo in a Warmoth/Fender P/J and I love it, planning to do the same thing to my P/Soapbar bass next.

What's the reason for the black finish on the back of the necks, carrying over into the body? Any idea what the necks are made of?
 #138320  by Tonetodiefor
 Tue Apr 15, 2014 5:40 pm
Rusty,

The necks are solid ebony and like the body, are finished with a Mercedes Benz clear auto finish from that era. So what you're seeing is the black ebony. The fretboard is the only part if the instruments where the wood was left unfinished.

Glad you like the ACG preamps!