Why is Bob Weir’s pink guitar so puzzling?
Weir’s unusual instrument suggests the classic contours of a traditional Stratocaster shape, but it’s been spotted from time to time with a pointed black headstock that has no logo or brand, contrary to a Fender trademark. Every now and then the same guitar has had a typical Strat head. There isn’t any string tree.
The silhouette of the dark headstock, matching neck and similar black pickguard strikes a compelling contrast when joined with the pink Pepto-Bismol® finish. All things considered, the guitar doesn’t emit a traditional Stratocaster vibe.
The specs on Weir’s pink Modulus guitar.
Bob Weir’s “pink Strat” is, in fact, not a Fender but a Modulus. The company, which began offering bass guitars in 1977, subsequently became successful with six string axes.
Geoff Gould, the founder of Modulus, offered his thoughts on the original specifications of Weir’s pink guitar on page 234 of the book, “Grateful Dead Gear: The Band’s Instruments, Sound Systems and Recording Sessions, From 1965 to 1995,” by Blair Jackson.
“That Pepto-Bismol®-pink one was one of my favorites. It had a Strat-style body and was made out of poplar. I put on some EMG Select pickups-EMG’s passive pickups, which weren’t great-and it had some kind of bridge; I don’t remember what kind.”
What Gould doesn’t refer to is the significantly unique component that separates this guitar from the others, which is one highly strong neck made of carbon fiber construction. Over the years, rumor has it the original carbon fiber neck was replaced at some point with real wood that still contained a carbon fiber truss rod. The current neck has 21 frets.
Now you see it, now you don’t. Weir’s pink Modulus has a neck pickup and sometimes it doesn’t. Occasionally the three pickups are placed very close together, nearer the bridge. The tremolo bar appears to be unusually long, although that could be an illusion.
The history behind Weir’s guitar is blowin’ in the wind.
Bob Weir discusses the origin of his pink Modulus on page 233 in Blair Jackson’s book about the Grateful Dead.
In the spring of 1987 Bob Dylan was rehearsing with the Grateful Dead for upcoming shows. Bob Weir explains, “We went into rehearsal with Dylan and he needed a guitar; he hadn’t brought one if you can believe that.”
“Oh just get me something simple-get me a Strat.”
“So we presented him with this variety of Strats,” Weir reports.
About the pink guitar, “Dylan said, ‘I like the way this one sounds and I like the way this one plays…but this one is the right color,’ Bob says with a laugh.”
“Later, after the tour was over, he gave it to me. I started playing it and I loved it.”
Still going strong after all that music.
The pink-Pepto Modulus guitar, which has endured innumerable live shows with the Dead, Other Ones, RatDog and the Furthur, has a distinct one-of-a-kind character just like its owner.
Weir, approaching his mid-sixties, continues to pump out imaginative head music melodies, jazz riffs and FM rock favorites, often with co-Grateful Deadmate and bass player Phil Lesh. Only now, when Weir plugs in his Modulus Pepto-Bismol® guitar, it’s kind of like trippin’ and pickin’ in the land of pink and grey. Nice!