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I understand that he takes them as trophies from defeated opponents, but how does he get his first one? Does he defeat a Jedi without a lightsaber (who?)? Or is he given one by a Sith?Does he make his own (without force assistance)?

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According to Wookieepedia, Count Dooku presented him his first lightsaber:

The cyborg project was funded by San Hill to create a military leader that could counter Dooku's growing political influence in the Separatist Movement, although he presented the finished General Grievous as a twisted gift to Dooku. Though taken aback by his appearance, Dooku was pleased, and bestowed upon Grievous the title "Supreme Commander of the Droid Armies," planning to use him in his efforts to conquer the Republic. He presented him with his first lightsaber, the weapon of Sifo-Dyas, an old friend of Dooku's.

This information comes from 14-page comic The Eyes of Revolution, from Star Wars: Visionaries, in which a fully cybonic "Sheelal", wounded and mind tempered with, receives his first lightsaber from Dooku (reporting to Darth Sidious) and, after reacting with anger and violence at being called a "droid", announces himself to be General Grevious.

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Wookiepedia isn't really canon. Where's the original source? –  DVK Aug 14 at 18:50
    
@DVK, you're right, I dug around a bit more and followed the citations. Is that better? Or is it still missing evidence? (never answered a Star Wars question before!) :-) –  Mac Cooper Aug 14 at 19:16
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much better!!!!! –  DVK Aug 14 at 19:23
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@phantom42 if the image here is helpful and good, why bother making this comment at all? –  Doc Aug 14 at 21:00
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@Doc, Richard and I had a conversation through these messages, and have since deleted them (they had nothing to do with the actual question). Phantom42 was responding to that conversation :-) –  Mac Cooper Aug 14 at 21:13

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