Come see this instrument and all of the others that have been spotlighted on the Wall of News in the Dusty Strings Exhibit at Skull and Roses this year.

by David Meerman Scott

The No Fun guitar was made by Modulus Guitars in 1983 and played by Bob Weir at nearly 100 Grateful Dead shows between 1983 and 1986. It was also played by Joe Walsh in 1983 and Bob Dylan in 1986. 

No Fun was Bobby’s first Modulus. He continues to play instruments from Modulus on stage nearly 40 years later.

Photograph © Ron Delany

Modulus Guitars:

Geoff Gould founded Modulus Guitars (now Modulus Graphite) in 1975 or 1976. His company was awarded the patent for carbon-fiber musical instrument necks in 1977. Early on, Modulus built instruments for John Entwistle (The Who), Greg Lake (ELP), and others. 

Phil Lesh first played a Modulus bass during the New Years’ run at the Oakland Auditorium in 1982. 

Bob Weir: “I fell for the Modulus guitars right away. I really liked the rigidity of the necks—that plus the fact that you can take the guitar out of the case and it’s the same guitar you put in the case, no matter what climate changes there have been. With some wooden necks, you could spend a whole soundcheck just getting it to feel right again and then if it’s warm out, like an outdoor gig, it might still not feel right when you get to the gig. The Modulus neck solved that problem completely.”  Source: Blair Jackson Grateful Dead Gear pages 217-218

Photograph © Bob Minkin

No Fun History:

Bob Weir played No Fun at nearly 100 Grateful Dead shows between 1983 and 1986 as well as occasionally in Kingfish and Bobby and the Midnight shows.

October 4, 1983: Joe Walsh opens for Stevie Nicks at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena. Walsh plays No Fun guitar for one song “People Get Ready”. In the Joe Walsh album Back Against The Wall (Live California ’83) “People Get Ready” is the opening song.

October 11, 1983: Grateful Dead at Madison Square Garden. First time Bob Weir plays No Fun.

Bob Weir played No Fun at Grateful Dead recording sessions at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA in early 1984. No album was produced from the sessions.

No Fun sticker added by Steve Parrish between summer and Fall tours 1984. The last summer show with no sticker in photos is Ventura County Fairgrounds, Ventura, CA (7/22/84) First Fall show with sticker in photos is Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC (10/5/84)

Knobs switched from white to black sometime between October 14, 1984, and February 18, 1985.

Photograph © Ron Delany

July 2, 1986: No Fun played by Bob Dylan when he sat in with the Grateful Dead for three songs at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, OH:  Little Red Rooster, Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, and It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue. The Grateful Dead opened for Bob Dylan at that show.

Tremolo switched from Floyd Rose to Washburn sometime after the end of 1985 and July 1986.

In 1988 the Grateful Dead begin experiments with Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) units on guitars. It would seem likely that’s when a Roland GK-2A MIDI unit was added to both No Fun and Jerry Garcia’s Wolf. No photos are known of Wolf and No Fun being played on stage at the same time.

Photograph © Bob Minkin

Discography & Filmography

Grateful Dead, Dicks Picks volume 6, October 14, 1983, Harford, CT

No Fun played at the Grateful Dead New Years’ Eve 1983 run at San Francisco Civic Auditorium. These shows were filmed by Bill Graham and the Grateful Dead.

August 1, 1984: Bobby and The Midnites, Capitol Theatre (broadcast on MTV)

Bobby & The Midnites, I Want To Live In America, Music video 1984

No Fun guitar was used in much of the 1987 film So Far, directed by Jerry Garcia and Len Dell’Amico. The scenes were likely filmed in 1985.

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Ventura 1987 | Photograph © Ron Delany