The Evolution of the "Alligator"

Written By: Ray Tuholski

Edited By: Mike Wald (Jan 2022)

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Version 1.0

(??/??/1970-3/1971)

Fender Stratocaster (Serial# 7310 = 1955) Graham Nash gifted the Natural Finish Pawn Shop bought 1955 Stratocaster for his Slide work on their Album.

Pickguard, Pickup covers and knobs were non original Bakelite that would have originally been on a stock 55 Strat.

These photos are from the Guitar Player April 1971 Article and Front Page. . No modifications and no stickers. The interview and photos were taken backstage at The Matrix December 17, 1970 which is also the first known use onstage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Version 1.1

(03/??/1971-06/21/1971)

" I would have done the wiring and shielding. Frank blocked the trem cavity and installed the bridge and tailpiece, I made the scalloped brass nut (and the Alembic Brass Bridge). A lot of this "Alembicizing" work was handed back and forth." ~ Rick Turner

(Added - Black Mil Spec Knobs - Stock Potentiometers swapped for Mil-Spec Rv4 Clarostats.)

Stock White Fender knobs were replaced with Black Mil Spec"Raytheon" Knobs and it is believed that this change was due to the fact that all the Potentiometer were changed out to the Mil-Spec Type J/Rv4 Clarostats with Fender Stock 55 Wiring with Upgraded Components.

Herouville, France - June 21, 1971

 

 

Version V1.2

(07/31/1971-01/02/1972)

(Added - The First Modified Pickguard was made of Wood, Scalloped Brass Nut, Schaller Tuning Pegs/Gears, Footmans Loop Brass String Tree Bar on the Low E, A, D, G Strings, B and high E Strings have the Stock 55 Button String Tree, Stock Frets Removed and Tallest available added, Silver Paint Shielding of all cavities to include the inside of the Plastic Pickup Covers.

Why was the control cavity portion of the pickguard modified?

"Right after i started doing guitars for the Garcia band. Jerry was playing an old Fender Stratocaster, and the plastic plate that holds the knobs broke while he was playing and they all fell off the guitar. We had to rig up a quick template on the spot. ~GP July 1988 -Steve Parish~

The first Control Cavity Cutout " Quick Template" turned out to be cut from a Clipboard and its color changes to a darker brown before the Brass is put on.

Gaelic Park 08/26/71

 

Version 2.0

(03/5/1972)

(Modifications - Modded " Tune"o"Matic Bridge w/Thumbscrew Height Adjustment, Custom Made Brass Bar & Clamped Tailpiece, Trem cavity "Blocked")

The Gibson Tune"o"Matic Bridge first appears sometime around March 5, 1972. Frank Fuller custom fabricated the Brass Tailpiece. The Tailpiece is a Brass bar stock drilled out for the strings with Brass Clamps holding it in place on Both Sides. The Trem cavity was "Blocked" wih a Mahogany block and epoxied in to fill the Tremolo cavity hole on top and accomodate for the installation of the new bridge.

**Note** - Stock Jackplate - NO Preamp or Battery.

"Keep on Truckin" Sticker on body

 

Version 3.0

(03/21/1972)

Added - Onboard Alembic Prototype Blaster(no trimpot or 6.8uf capacitor), Hand Hammered Brass Plate under the Stock Fender Jackplate, Exposed String Ground

Ron Wickershams custom designed Prototype Blaster Buffer for Jerry Garcia, The Production model of the Alembic Blaster as known today was not produced until 1975. The Prototype Jerry used was on blue-colored Vector prototyping material and just had a fixed gain of 3db.

The "Keep on Truckin'" Sticker, Harley Davidson sticker on body,Alligator Sticker appears between 6/17 - 7/16

Kidd stated the Alligator Sticker was picked up in Europe.

 

 

 

At the Beat Club during Europe 72 Tour Jerry put another Sticker on the guitar that came from a European Music Magazine called Musiek Express.

(Note: The Above Pillhuhn Drawing is similar but is not the Original Design.)

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Other Strats used on various dates from 8/27/72 thru 11/26/72 and Spring '73
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Version V4.0

(12/10/1972-08/01/1973)

Modifications - Alembic (Turner) Brass Bridge, Brass (Turner) Sustain Block underneath the bridge and a wood riser underneath the Tailpiece, New Offset Hand Hammered Brass Control Plate- replaced the first one made of wood.
Final Bridge modification happens sometime in late 1972. The tailpieces wood riser slightly goes under, and butts up against the brass sustainer block.(see drawing below)

Keep on Truckin' on body, Harley Davidson sticker on body, Alligator Sticker on Pickguard. What looks Like a Pendleton Rodeo Sticker on upper horn where Policeman's Helper eventually is placed.

 

 

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Gator is retired from stage use. Last used 8/1/73. Wolf V1.0 Appears 9/5/73
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Version 5.0

( As it was sold at Auction stripped of it's Strat"O"Blaster, Volume Control and Stock Pickups)

This final version of Alligator was not seen in the wild in any photo onstage and was left with the wiring not working. The 3 controls(1 volume, 2 tone) are present for every incarnation of the guitar from V1.2 thru V4.0, 8/71 thru 8/73

Owned today by the Andy Logan

Arrives at Auction on December 10, 2019

https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/25922/lot/323/

 

Policeman Helper not on Guitar while played with the GD.

And that Alligator was Born with a Belly Button!

 

ALLIGATOR V1.0 & V1.1WIRING -Details Provided by Ron Wickersham and Rick Turner.

 

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