The Grateful Egg

Gregg's Greatful Egg When Gregg came by Alembic in Febraury 2004, he stayed and visited for an extended time. Susan watched and listened as he played a Tribute guitar in our showroom. Anyone could see it was love at first sight. He knew he would own one, but wanted to add something with special meaning to his Tribute.
His family business got its start in 1948 with his grandmother's egg ranch. This was the inspiration for his requested design to have inlays that would be cool, classy and Jerry-esque, reflecting his family roots without being tacky or detracting from the instrument in any way.
Gregg wanted a chicken or egg motif, and after seeing just the initial rough sketch he gave us the go-ahead. Gregg was involved while the guitar evolved. He was easy to work with and gave Susan free artistic licence on the design (she works so much better that way, like most artists).
The instrument when viewed as a whole shows balance between the medallion and the fingerboard inlays, both utilizing the same materials and each featuring a "Deadish" flair. Since Alembic's roots are firmly anchored in our early association with the Grateful Dead, it's only natural that we present the Grateful Egg guitar and introduce the Little Dead Rooster to you.
Gratful Hen It's hard to imagine that a Little Dead Rooster could be so full of life, but somehow Susan's artistry gave this guy a personality and an animated stance. Even those of us that were skeptical about the initial idea, had to admit this guy found a away into each of our hearts. We really love this one!
LDR's skeleton is mother of pearl. When Mike was cutting out the individual bones, he temporarily mounted them on an Ebony slab for safekeeping. You don't want to put that puzzle together again! He also asked Susan if he could change the beak and toes to golden mother of pearl - she said, "sounds good to me."
The grass under LDR's feet is laminated abalone. The egg is an exceptionally vibrant piece of mother of pearl. Around LDR's neck is a 14K gold necklace with a silver lightning bolt medallion. The red and blue are custom cast acrylic with intense color. The comb and rose are inlaid in the same acrylic. For the stem and leaves of the rose, we used a malachite colored acrylic.
Fingerboard inlay
Fingerboard inlay
Fingerboard inlay
Fingerboard inlay
Fingerboard inlay
Fingerboard inlay
Fingerboard inlay
Fingerboard inlay
The "hatchlings" are just too cute. Gregg wanted a series of eggs up the fingerboard, and they look very natural considering the usual inlays are ovals. Each piece of mother of pearl was carefully selected and hand-cut (no lasers here). It's hard to appreciate unless you see it in person, but many of the eggs have a 3D appearance owing to the artful selection of material.
Starting at the 24th fret, GR.EGG is carved from a single large chunk of mother of pearl. It has to be thicker than usual since it spans the width of the board, and the curve of the fingerboard must be considered. To cut the letters, Mike drills a starting point in each letter then completely cuts the letter out through and through with a fine jeweler's saw. Before the piece is inlaid, a mirror image of the art is visible from the back. This means that even if the guitar is later refretted, none of the detail will be lost. There's also a few puns embedded, GR.EGG can be many things... Grateful egg, Gregg's Egg, or just Gregg.
Notice that the tiny egg at the 22nd fret is just starting to crack, and that crack grows and grows until just the little tip of the wing peeks out at the 7th fret. By the 5th fret, he's nearly hatched and by the 3rd fret, our little friend is ready to greet his new day, complete with his very own Captain Trips hat.
contouring The carved top is deeply contoured. We start with a 1/2" thick slab of bookmatched Coco Bolo and start grinding the curves into place with a handrouter fixed to a master guide. That gets the contours in the ballpark, then the long process of finish carving and sanding by hand gets underway. Tony has great patience in matters of wood, and he did an outstanding job on the Grateful Egg.
This is also a good time to appreciate the high figure of the Flame Maple body. The contrast between the very dark Coco Bolo and the Maple is grand, and the shock of orange-red Vermilion in the mix makes it all good.
neck Neck laminations are Flame Maple outside pair, Purpleheart and a center laminate of Cherry. While the entire guitar is finished with hard polyester finish, we take special attention to the neck and rub it out with very fine micro mesh sandpapers to a sleek satin finish.
peghead side From the side, the peghead laminations are:
  • Ebony
  • Maple
  • Purpleheart
  • Maple core pack
  • Purpleheart
  • Maple
  • Coco Bolo

Peghead back Nice Coco Bolo veneer on the back of the peghead. Another chance to see the change in lustre from the glossy finish on the peghead to the satin finish of the neck. Notice how the glare on the little Coco Bolo "tongue" abruptly stops where the satin finish starts.
Backplate Never miss an opportunity to preserve precious wood. Continuous wood backplates may add to the price, but anyone that has enjoyed this feature on their own custom agrees they are worth it. Mosey on down to the full back view, and you'll see what we mean.
Dear Susan, Ron, Mica, and the entire Alembic team,

Just a final note from 2004 to express a resounding THANK YOU for sharing your artisanry with me, my family, and our friends this year. You have enhanced our lives tremendously thanks especially, but not limited, to my Grateful Egg (aka Grateful Hen, Little Dead Rooster, etc.).

She is soooo sweeet. I have always loved Dead chicks for their passionate zest for life. But, this one goes many miles further down the road. She responds to my touch in ways I never thought possible. She quivers and quakes at all the right moments. She hums for me through those quiet moves. Next to my wife, she is the most beautiful chick I have ever laid eyes on. And, equally thrilling, I get to be the one to touch her, hold her, caress her, and make her scream. She can make happy any man alive!

Thank you so very much.

A Deadicated and grateful fan,


Front Back


  • Tribute 6-string guitar
  • Carved Coco Bolo top
  • Western Flame Maple core
  • Vermilion accent laminates with Maple pinstripes
  • Coco Bolo back
  • Continuous wood backplates
  • Side LEDs in red
  • Inlaid silver logo with shell
  • Western Flame Maple, Purpleheart and Cherry set neck
  • Custom medallion inlay "Little Dead Rooster"
  • Custom hatching eggs fingerboard inlay
  • Custom GR.EGG 24-5 inlay
  • Polyester gloss finish with satin neck feel

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Photograph of retired Petaluma poultry barn © 2004 Mica Wickersham
Photographs of guitar © 2004 Alembic, Inc.
Original artwork © 2004 Susan L. Wickersham

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