Find of the Week: The Grateful Dead's Customized Fender Bassman

Article Contributed by Reverb | Published on Friday, July 1, 2022

This week's Find of the Week is a customized Fender Bassman amplifier circa 1960 that was once the property of The Grateful Dead. While the original tweed is covered in padded white vinyl and a "Chrysler" emblem was stuck on its face, the amp's original speakers are intact.

For those uninitiated, the Bassman was introduced by Fender in 1952 and was initially marketed as a bass amplifier. It quickly became the point of departure for several manufacturers building high-gain tube amplifiers, most notably Marshall.

According to The Dead's longtime roadie, "Big" Steve Parish, this Bassman was purchased by the band in 1969 at the now-defunct Leo's Music in Oakland, California. At the time it was bought, Parish explains, "It was already covered with a white plush tone covering and [had] a custom leather handle at the top."

It was Garcia himself that added the Chrysler car emblem above the speakers. He often used this Bassman as a spare amp during rehearsals, but its most notable appearance on a recording was on an overdub on Shakedown Street's title track in 1978. No word on whether Jerry used it on tour, but by the looks of it, it wasn't played too much too fast.

Be sure to check out the full listing for more pictures and details, and to get truckin' on an offer on this standout collection piece.