Fernandes Stratocaster

Fernandes Stratocaster

Smashed by Dave Grohl at the 1992 Reading Festival. Currently owned by The Hard Rock Cafe. Over the years this guitar has made it's rounds across different Hard Rock Cafes across the globe. It was also lent to be displayed at the Reading Museum during the 2004 Reading Festival. At one point the frame and placement within the frame were changed. The photo above is it's former frame. I personally like this old frame arrangement better because you can see ghostly remains of the guitar's structure. See links below to see it in it's current frame.

The smashed Fernandes Stratocaster has been on display at the Hard Rock in Orlando, FL, London, UK, and as of 2007 Boston, MA.

Related Links



Blue Fender Jagstang

Sonic Blue Custom Shop Fender Jagstang

This guitar was designed by Kurt Cobain in collaboration with Fender's Custom Shop. For a wealth of information on the background of the Jagstang visit jag-stang.com. Two prototypes were created and Kurt only had the chance to play the first one (as seen above). To check out the second red prototype click here.

After his death Courtney Love gave the guitar to Michael Stipe of REM. Michael Stipe considers the guitar to belong to REM and not him personally. Mike Mills and Peter Buck of REM used it extensively on tour in 1995 on a song written for Kurt titled "Let Me In".

Kurt's Jagstang related videos
3. Kurt talking about Jagstang to MTV (@7:12) (Link removed by YT. Waiting for replacement)
4. Another interview where Kurt talks about Jagstang (@5:00) - Kurt's face lights up when asked :)

Update: UMG keeps removing the video clips of Kurt talking about the Jagstang. Ergghh!

Youtube videos of Kurt playing Jagstang
3 - Rape Me 2/14/94 (updated! Now in HQ)

Found others? Please post them in the comments section.

Click here to visit my Photobucket account for Kurt's different drafts of the Jagstang.

Jon @ Prospect
Rough Cut/Road Movie REM video.

Two Mustangs @ Hard Rock - NOT KURTS

Two Lake Placid Blue (LPB) Competition Mustangs

Melbourne, Australia - Hard Rock Cafe
Oslo, Norway - Hard Rock Cafe

These are not the more well-known Smells Like Teen Spirit (SLTS) video Mustang but sure look similar. Furthermore the Oslo HR Mustang is right handed and autographed. Kurt was left handed and did not autograph his own guitars (at least not with his own name).

Perhaps these were fan submitted guitars or another Courtney Love - Hard Rock transaction.

Earnie Bailey, the most qualified expert on Nirvana's gear, has confirmed that neither of these guitars were ever played or owned by Kurt.

Kurt's REAL SLTS Competition Mustang is owned by a private owner and it is currently on loan to the Seattle Experience Music Project. My guess is that it's owned by a friend of the Cobain family (Mark Arm, King Buzzo, someone like that).

"The Australian Hard Rock Cafe claims they have this guitar, but Earnie Bailey says he saw a photo of the guitar they had and it was right-handed. "The photo said that it had come from Courtney. Either she or Eric had a right-handed one exactly like Kurt's, I'm not sure whose it was, but this is mostly likely that guitar." He goes on to say, "The Hard Rock Cafe does not own Kurt's competition blue Mustang. I recently worked on the real one and its present owner allowed me to photograph it in detail. Courtney gave it to him a month after Kurt's death, and it is eaxctly as I remember it, ever nick, ding, and solder joint".

I'd really like to get a copy of the photographs Earnie is talking about!

I'm working on a post regarding Courtney Love's transactions with the Hard Rock. It appears that she sold the Hard Rock curators a boat load of guitars and possessions of both Hole and Nirvana. Some legit and some not. Any leads appreciated. Thanks !

Special thanks to Mike J for the Melbourne HR photo above.

Kurt's Marshall Amp

Marshall JMP-50 guitar amp.
Sold to private buyer by rockstarsguitars.com

"This Marshall JMP 50 was used by Kurt Cobain on Nirvana's last recording session, January 28-30 1994 while recording "You Know You're Right". This amp is very well documented in interviews and comes with a letter from Robert Lang Studios where this session was recorded. Also included is a letter from Earnie Bailey, Kurt's guitar tech, detailing the complete history of the amp during the recording session and has signed photos of this amp ensuring its authenticity."

1993 Fender Telecaster Custom

1993 Fender Telecaster Custom

Kurt's last favorite guitar was sold to a private buyer by rockstarsguitars.com

Note that on the photographs of Kurt playing the guitar the pickups are different. This is because Earnie had modified the guitar. See quotes below.

"This is the guitar that Kurt wrote his music on and carried with him for months from bus to hotel room to airline toward the end of his career. This guitar was not exclusively used for live performance but more for writing and never left his side. It was used from late 1993 until his death in 1994. It is featured on the cover of the book "Nirvana" and on pages 116-123. There are distinguishable markings on the body that can be matched up perfectly with these photos. It also comes with original prints of Kurt playing this guitar and a notarized detailed letter from a crew member. The pickups, bridge, and tuners were changed at one point, as this was a common practice with Kurt's guitars. This was done by Earnie Bailey, Kurt's guitar tech. This comes with a letter from Earnie detailing the complete modifications done to this guitar. Earnie also supplied the original receipt for the bridge pickup and a letter from Gibson for the neck pickup that he installed, and has signed photos of this guitar ensuring the authenticity of the instrument. And it still has four of the original strings on the guitar."

"Sent to Kurt by Fender in early 1994 . Japanese made. "Fender sent this out for the In Utero tour to replace the blue one. Stock pickups were very shrill. After Kurt's coma in Rome, I thought modifying this guitar would make it a workhorse and get him away from the Mustang-Jaguar image. Hopefully get him perked up. I put on new tuners (Gotoh's - his favorite). A Tele bridge from Stew-Mac with a humbucker cut-out and individual saddles for each string. In the bridge, I put a Duncan JB - black, and in the neck, a new Gibson PAF, potted with a Chrome cover. He got this back 2 weeks before he died, and said it was his new favorite. He used it for the home recordings he was making with Pat and Eric Erlanderson in March 1994 in Kurt's basement. "

Smashed Univox Hi Flier

Smashed October 30th 1988 @ Evergreen State College (WA)
Photo of event here.

This Univox body was displayed at Seattle's Experience Music Project April 2003 to October 2004. Here is a blurry photo of the display from 2004. Looks like the neck was displayed alongside the guitar. If anyone has a better photo of the display please contact me.

Current whereabouts are unknown.



1961 Epiphone Texan Acoustic "Nixon Now"

This guitar was featured in Charles Cross's book "Cobain Unseen".
Photographed by Geoff Moore.
It has been in storage in a private secured lot in Los Angeles (along with the other goodies that were photographed for the book).

For a large color print I recommend you check out the book.

"The Epiphone acoustic with the "Nixon Now" sticker is a model called the Texan. Kurt purchased this from a Los Angeles guitar shop after he became famous. Kurt's guitar tech, Earnie Bailey, installed the Bartolini 3 AV pickup."

"Prior to the In Utero tour Kurt's main acoustic was an Epiphone Texan purchased after completing "In Utero" as a replacement for the Stella acoustic. The guitar's adjustable bridge was changed to a lefty flat-top bridge and a standard saddle. Earnie says this was one of the best-sounding acoustics he's heard, and Kurt's best. Despite this he wouldn't use it on Unplugged. Used during the "In Utero" tour on occasion as a backup to his Martin.

Related Links
1. Close up photos 1, 2, 3
2. Cobain Unseen by Charles Cross

Epiphone ET270

There is an Epiphone ET270 on display at a Hard Rock.

It probably wasn't Kurt's but it does have have his autograph on the body. Kurt used an ET270 in the Sub Pop era In Bloom video and on the recording of Bleach. Also used for shows in the 1989 and 1990.

Kurt smashed his ET-270 at the Pyramid Club in New York.
Photographs depicting the event can be found here.
Thanks you Brian from livenirvana.com for the clarification.


Sunburst Fender Stratocaster

Sunburst Fender Stratocaster

On display in Seattle at the Experience Music Project. Alongside Kurt's Stratocaster (one of many that he owned) are drums, cymbals and Krist's 1970's Ibanez Black Eagle bass. The photo is from 2004 so I'm not sure if it's still on display.

This may or may not be the presumed sunburst Stratocaster from the 1992 Reading Festival. At the end of the show Kurt does not smash the sunburst Stratocaster. After contemplating throwing it up in the air, Kurt walks into the crowd and hands the guitar to an audience member. See video below (@ 10:02).

My best guess is that this was one of the In Utero end of set guitars. It has a different humbucker in the bridge than the Strat seeing in the Reading footage and the body has a massive crack through the center (typical of Kurt's smash patterns).

Additional photos


Bass Smashed In SMLTS Video

This is the bass that Kurt smashed at the end of the Smells Like Teen Spirit video. It's been on display at the Hard Rock in New York. However when I went to go see it I couldn't find it. I asked the staff at the Hard Rock and they said they didn't know anything about it. According to a member of livenirvana.com it was indeed on display as of December 2008.

Can someone get a better screen grab of the video? Thanks!

Not really Kurt's Jazzmaster

Courtney Love sold off some of Kurt's belongings to the Hard Rock.
Supposedly this was Kurt Cobain's Jazzmaster, but according to Ernie Bailey Kurt never owned a Jazzmaster.

"The Hard Rock Cafe's collection of guitars mistakenly claims Kurt's "trademark" Fender Jazzmaster which is autographed. Kurt has told Earnie Bailey on several occasions that he never used a Jazzmaster. Earnie chased down a lefty Jazzmaster for Kurt once but he and Krist decided it was too expensive, as it was going to be purchased as a surprise."

No Name Guitar and Mustang

Guitar #1 - No name
Apparently the Hard Rock Cafe found it "appropriate" to alter Kurt's writing on one of his guitars. Rather disturbing that they would do that. Regardless out of the two on display here, this one is the most likely to have belonged to Kurt. Besides Kurt's graffiti on the guitar, the modifications done on the guitar are typically of Cobain's. The tremolo was replaced with a fixed bridge, and the arrangement of the strings has been flipped to accommodate a left handed player.

From article;
"Cobain in the wake of the Gulf War had written out an obscenity on the guitar: "Fuck Our Troops." Any Nirvana fan familiar with Cobain's journals, his music, and the culture he came out of would not be surprised by what he wrote. But obviously with a nation at war this is not an appropriate way to greet guests at a casino. And the Hard Rock rulers are business guys more than music fans. The guitar now reads "Our Troops" with the offending word permanently removed."

Guitar #2 right handed Fender Competition Mustang

I've never seen any photos of Kurt playing this. Perhaps this is another Courtney Love - Hard Rock scam (see post about Jazzmaster @ HR) It could also simply be on display not as one of Kurt's guitars, but an autographed guitar. The guitar is signed by all members of the band and it has a Nirvana backstage pass adhered to the body.

Anyone have any photographs of Kurt playing either of these guitars?

Full article here.

Video clip of the guitar on display in Las Vegas here.

Known locations of display; Las Vegas (1990s) and Seattle (2000s).

Sears Bass

Auctioned off by Christie's of New York.

Sears model bass guitar, serial number 20180. According to Cobain's Aunt Mari Earl, Cobain recorded his first demo at her home in Seattle using this bass. The demo was called "Organized Confusion" a name he wished to call his band. In 1985 Cobain recorded a second demo also using this bass called "Fecal Matter". On June 23, 2009 the bass was sold to a private collector at a Chrysties auction in New York for $43,750. Article on sale here.

From NPR article;

"Going for an estimated $60,000-$80,000, this Sears model bass guitar was used by Kurt Cobain to record his early demos at his aunt's home in Aberdeen, Wash. The item comes with an image of a teenage Cobain playing the bass, and a letter from his aunt regarding the provenance of the guitar."

Mark S

1953 Martin D18

From the Press Release;

"We're pleased to offer what many would consider an even more significant instrument, the 1953 Martin D-18 acoustic guitar that Cobain purchased while on tour shortly before the 1991 release of the seminal Nevermind. This 1953 Martin D-18 acoustic guitar was played regularly by him before being gifted to indie-folk rock musician and then-girlfriend Mary Lou Lord during their brief relationship. Cobain's first Martin D-18, he loved it so much that this became his favorite brand of acoustic. Mary Lou Lord played the guitar regularly (with the guitar strung right-handed - Cobain was a lefty) during her career, on tour and in the studio, and often shared the guitar with her pals Elliott Smith and Shawn Colvin."

Article here
The guitar apparently did not meet the auction reserve.
Correction. It sold for $29,875

Interesting observation; on the photo of Kurt playing the guitar the strings are strung up for a right handed player. Was this really Kurt's? Or was it Mary Lou's and Kurt happened to strum it? The only Martin mentioned on kurtsequiptment.com is the Unplugged D18E.

Here is a short video clip of the guitar on display at the Dallas Guitar Convention 2007

Known Serial Numbers of Kurt's Guitars

1965 Fender Jaguar sunburst Serial # 95747 (Nevermind Tour)
1964 Fender Jaguar Serial #L83660
1977 Fender Mustang sunburst Serial# S714567
1968 Fender Mustang daphne blue Serial # F207901 (In Bloom Vid)
1969 Fender Mustang comp stripe Serial #F279651 (SMLT Vid)
1993 Fender Mustang blue Serial #016988 (In Utero Tour)
White Fender Stratocaster Serial # K039704 (MTV Awards)
White Fender Stratocaster Serial # 039702 (Argentina)
Red Fender Stratocaster Serial #035626 (In Utero Tour)
White Univox HiFlier Serial #034638
Natural Univox HiFlier Serial # 038706
Sunburst Univox HiFlier Serial # 1002467
Sunburst Univox Custom Serial # 1002904 (SNL)
1966 Fender Electric XII Serial # F136692
National Resoglass Serial # G14667
Harmony Acoustic Serial # 5226H913
Stella Harmony 12 String Serial #1460H912 (receipt)
Sears Bass Serial # 20180 (Young Kurt)
Martin D-18E Serial # 166854 (MTV Unplugged)


Nice photo of Nirvana's guitars

Presumably this Charles Peterson photograph was taken backstage at the Reading Festival or at one of the two Rio shows (Brazil).

From left to right; 1965 Fender Jaguar, Ferrington Mustang, white Stratocaster, Telecaster, Fender Competition Mustang, sunburst Stratocaster. (rear - Krist's bass)

Guitar World March 1995

White Univox Hi-Flier used on Heart Shaped Box video

White Univox Hi Flier used on the Heart Shaped Box Video. Not entirely certain where this guitar currently resides.

Rumors surrounding this guitar
1. Sold on eBay in 2001
2. Currently owned by Dave Grohl
3. Smashed on 10/23/93

Related links

Additional information and photos thanks to the folks from livenirvana.com

Red Fender Jagstang

The red Jagstang is on display at The Fender Museum in California. Next to the guitar are the original Polaroid mockups and cardboard cutouts that Kurt made for Fender's Custom Shop.

Kurt never actually saw the red Jagstang. According to an interview with Larry Brooks (Guitar world, March 1995); "We were (packing) the guitar to ship it to him when we got the news (of his death)". Kurt already had the blue one in his possessions and was making notes on changes he wanted to make.

Top Photo:Kurt's design submission to Fender.
The markings on the right are scanning instructions for when the mockup was scanned for Guitar World. This is a different mockup than what was featured in Journals. In Journals there is a similar mockup done by Kurt which featured a sunburst color.

The red Jagstang was also photographed for Fender's Frontline magazine in the Fall of 1994. See photo.

For more information on the Jagstang click here.
Entry on blue Jagstang here.

jag-stang.com (Frontline pic)
Jon @ prospect (museum photos)

Black Fender Stratocaster

Black Fender Stratocaster

Kurt had several of these imported cheaper Stratocasters that he would smash at the end of the set. These were Japanese imported Fender Stratocasters.

Based on the wear patterns of the broken body it matches that of the photograph above from 1991. The body shown above is (as of December 2008) on display at The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, CA.

Here is a video clip of Kurt splitting the body in two and distributing it to the audience. I have no idea how the two pieces were able to reunite after such a journey! (body splitting at 2:39) (update: video removed by YouTube copyright police. Trying to locate another)

Update: This body is currently on display at the EMP's Nirvana exhibit. According to a video on mtv.com with Jacob McMurray, this Stratocaster was smashed during the recording of Endless, Nameless for Nevermind. Here is a photo of the black Stratocaster smashed during that session. Note: body is not split in two.

Related Links


1960's Mosrite Gospel

Kurt bought this guitar from Chris Cobb of Real Guitars in San Francisco, CA. It is one of only two known 1960's Mark IV Gospels. The other is owned by Mosrite founder's daughter Michelle Moseley. A small number of these were reissued in Japan and usually sell on ebay for around $1000.

This is perhaps the most auctioned off Cobain guitar to date. The initial auction estimate was $75,000. It was initially auctioned on April 27, 2004 at the Dallas Guitar Show by Odyssey/Heritage Auctions. At the 2004 auction the closing price was $117,500. The second auction ended on April 14, 2006. The closing price was $131,450.

From the Press Release

"This instrument is unusual in a couple of ways. It is the only known example of a Mark IV style Mosrite Gospel model. While Kurt owned and smashed many cheap (usually Univox) copies of Mosrite guitars during his career, this was one of only two actual Mosrites he owned. (The other was damaged and given away.) It was also one of his favorite guitars, which saved it from the usual fate of the instruments he used for live performances. Kurt purchased the guitar in San Francisco in 1990. "According to Earnie [Bailey], 'Kurt had only one Gospel, and this is a beyond rare guitar. At the time Kurt died, I was secretly working with Loretta Mosley to build Kurt a lefty Gospel... in some cool color.' Unfortunately, Kurt passed away as Earnie was gathering photos to send to Mosrite of Kurt's original. 'Loretta sent me a nice letter after it ended, as she had recently lost Semie (husband, founder of Mosrite) and was now running Mosrite on her own... she had sent me some sales literature of another Gospel, but could find no history of ever having made one based on the Mark IV guitar.'" (Quote reprinted from www.kurtsequipment.com.) Kurt had painted the very small Mosrite dot markers with white-out to make them more visible in a live setting. Although the current owner removed this simple modification, residue is still visible on the instrument. This is a factory right handed instrument, so it was modified for Kurt with a strap button added to the treble side horn, and the original metal string guide has been flipped to allow it to be strung left handed. The original case bears the words 'NIRVANA' and 'Fuck Elvis' in white paint which, while painted over with the same white paint, are still visible on inspection. Est. 250,000-up."

Video of Kurt rehearsing with the Gospel.

Download high-resolution photographs here.

Smashed Guitar @ Auction

UPDATE 10/07/2009
Information has been confirmed and images obtained.

Stay tuned for a new entry. For now I will leave this old entry here.


Another one of Kurt's guitars sold at an auction in December 2008.
It was a modified 70's Fender Mustang with a Univox humbucker.

This is the second Cobain guitar selling for 6 figures.
The first was a Mosrite Gospel in 2006 (here).

The guitar was sold by Sluggo of The Grannies and Hullabaloo.
Kurt traded it him for either a white Univox Hi Flier (pic 1, 2, 3) or a Gibson SG (pic 1, 2)
Update; It was the SG

It was displayed (on loan from Sluggo) at the Experience Music Project (Seattle, WA) until he decided to sell it in 2008. The news articles mention that it was smashed in New Jersey.
This may lead one to assume it may be have been the sunburst Univox. However two of the articles (NYTimes and Rolling Stone) mention a "Mustang"; hence the confusion.

My guess is that Kurt had smashed both the Mustang (possibly in 7/9/89 PA) and his sunburst Univox (7/13/89 NJ). Looking at photos from nirvanaguide.com, Kurt did not play guitar on the show following the Maxwell's gig. He played the whole show with no guitar. The show after that, he is seen with a white Univox.

To recap;

7/9/89 - Kurt is playing a sunburst Mustang (top photo)
7/12/89 - Kurt is playing a natural/sunburst/duct taped Univox
7/13/89 - Kurt is seen smashing the Univox (see photo)
7/15/89 - Kurt did not play guitar (see photo)
7/18/89 - Kurt is playing a white Univox

If anyone has photographs from when it was displayed in Seattle, or at the auction please share!
Thank you - Jon

1960's Fender Musicmaster

Kurt was known to have a few guitars that he did not use live. For example; a custom made Ferrington Mustang, a 70's Ibanez Les Paul, and some vintage Fender student models. This one in particular was given to Dave Navarro by Courtney Love. It was briefly featured on one of the MTV reality TV shows that Navarro starred in. It's a Daphne Blue Fender Musicmaster. Based on the headstock shape and decal it is a 1964 or early 1965 model. He has stated that the guitar is on display at his home and is not interested in selling it. If Frances Bean Cobain (Kurt Cobain's daughter) wanted it back, he would give it to her. According to our good friend Andrea; the better photograph above was taken by Simon Ferreira while photographing Mr. Navarro's house.

Andrea E
Simon Ferreira