After spending years building custom interiors for Caribbean yachts, Stephen Cripe decided to try his hand at crafting guitars. He studied the "Dead Ahead" video until he wore it out, and replicated Irwin’s Tiger—with some flourishes of his own. In 1993 he sent the completed guitar off to the Grateful Dead offices. Jerry quickly pronounced the piece "the guitar I've always been waiting for" and began playing it exclusively. Built totally by feel, the instrument honored Jerry’s interest in preserving the rainforests, using recycled rosewood originally harvested in Brazil for the fingerboard. Cripe constructed the neck with an unusual accuracy in the higher end, which allowed Jerry to play where he usually avoided. For the body, Cripe reused East Indian rosewood taken from a bed once used by opium smokers in Asia—acknowledging the irony, but insisting it was about the quality of wood. It came to be called Lightning Bolt due to the inlay that Cripe designed.more
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