Eastwood's Tributes to The Dead

    By Lincoln Smith
    Deadheads rejoice! Eastwood’s artist series has several times turned its focus to everyone’s favorite jam band over the years. The resulting tribute models are accessible to the average budget, and nail the look and tone of the original instruments from Woodstock onward.

    Eastwood Wolf Guitar

    The first Dead-inspired model from Eastwood was a tribute to the famous Wolf Guitar designed and built by Doug Irwin. The Eastwood Wolf keeps many features of the original, with a walnut and maple 5-ply thru-neck construction, and brass mounting plates for the pickups and selector switch.

    The Wolf’s 5-ply bound neck sports an ebony fingerboard and painstakingly replicated fret marker inlays. A brass nut and brass saddles are necessary features to ensure that the look and tone of this model is just right.

    Photo: John Mayer playing the original "Wolf" onstage in 2019

    Speaking of tone, the model’s pickups were designed to specifically replicate the tone and attack of those used in Wolf. 

    The neck position pickup is an alnico 5 double bobbin single coil, made to replicate a DiMarzio HS-2 – one of the earliest humbucking strat replacement pickups from the early ‘80s. The pickup featured in the bridge and middle positions are ceramic magnet humbuckers made to nail the tone of the famous DiMarzio Super 2. These are complemented by Eastwood’s TransWarp Drive pre-amp, kicking the gain up a notch.

    The most unique feature of this model is the onboard effects loop, or OBEL. The OBEL was actually developed by the 'Dead's lead man himself and installed in the original Wolf in the late 70s. 

    This feature allows a player to run the signal of effects pedals through the instrument before the master volume. The OBEL can be toggled on and off with the flip of the nearest toggle switch. 

    Eastwood Tiger Guitar

    The Eastwood Tiger guitar is a tribute to another one of the group's main man's favorite instruments. The original Tiger was another of Doug Irwin’s creations, and shared many similarities with Wolf.

    Photo: Close up of the original "Tiger"

    The Eastwood Tiger also has much in common with the Eastwood Wolf, including the pickups, controls, and 25.5” scale neck with ebony board and intricate inlay work.

    For all of its similarities, the model’s neck is the main feature separating the two models. While the Wolf is famously a thru-neck “hippie sandwich” construction, the Eastwood Tiger features maple and walnut set neck, joined to a maple body with a bookmatched walnut front and back.

    Eastwood Tiger Bass

    True to its name, the Tiger Bass is a bass version of the popular Tiger Guitar. The Bass features a full 32” scale length along with the same maple neck, ebony fingerboard, and inlays as its guitar counterpart. The neck is similarly set into a maple body capped with walnut on front and back.

    Bass players will get major ‘70s vibes from the Tiger bass, with its two p-style split-coil pickups – each of which have their own independent volume and tone control. A three way selector gives the player the chance to apply these pickups exactly as desired.

    Eastwood BW Artist

    The BW Artist is the first instrument on the list not inspired by a Doug Irwin design. This is a faithful tribute to the instrument played by rhythm guitar hero and Dead staple Bob Weir.

    Photo: Bob Weir with Artist after heavy modification

    The BW Artist at first glance may conjure comparisons to either of Gibson’s top solidbody offerings. While the double Florentine cutaways emulate the SG, the BW Artist is a hefty instrument that naturally produces tone and sustain, partially by benefit of its mass, similar to the popular Les Paul.

    In fact, the BW Artist is modeled after the Japanese-made Artist model loved by Weir. The solid ash body produces a unique tone, translated with plenty of beef thanks to a pair of Custom ‘59 Humbuckers, and the set maple neck and 24¾” scale provide a responsive and comfortable playing experience.

    Eastwood ETB500


    Last but not least, Eastwood brings you another 'Dead favorite. Based on the popular aluminum-necked Travis Bean TB-500, this tribute expertly walks a line between accessible pricing for the average guitarist and professional feel and sound.

    Photo: The 'Dead's TB-500 with OBEL

    The minds at Eastwood pulled out all stops to faithfully replicate the tone and look of the model; however, keeping the ETB500 affordable meant ditching the expensive aluminum neck. The tone and response of the Eastwood model was made up for in the obsessive design of the pickups and careful choice of materials.

    The ETB500’s body is a solid mahogany, matched with a set solid maple neck. The pickups are custom-wound P90 style single coils with independent on/off toggles. 

    The ETB500 appropriately also features the OBEL system found on the previous Wolf and Tiger models. The OBEL system first debuted at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California, installed in his own Travis Bean TB-500.

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    Eastwood has always been a fan of the obscure and unique when it comes to guitar design, and Deadheads know that no other band more greatly exemplifies this idea. By recreating these models, Eastwood celebrates the history, the creativity, and the style that the jam band has given audiences since 1965.