Kurt Cobain Guitars – Everything You Need to Know

kurt cobain guitars

In this post, I am going to answer all the frequently asked questions about Kurt Cobain’s guitars. So, grab a coffee and read along.

No, doubt that Kurt Cobain is one of the most influential musicians of all time but do you know what kind of guitars did he used or what was his first guitar?

Well, by the end of this post you will know a lot of things about Kurt Cobain, especially about his guitars.


Who gave Kurt Cobain his first guitar?

Kurt Cobain got his first guitar from his uncle as a present on his 14th birthday.

His uncle asked him to choose from either a bike or a used guitar. He chose the guitar and began learning songs like ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Power Ballad’ by Led Zeppelin.

The songs that he learned fully are ‘My Best Friend’s Girl’ by The Cars, ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ by Queen, and ‘Louie Louie’.

Kurt Cobain’s First Electric Guitar

Kurt Cobain’s first electric guitar was the 1970s Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3.

He used that guitar in the early Nirvana gigs in 1987. In an interview with John Robb in 1989, he said, he really likes Univoxes, and that’s what he plays all the time.

He added, “they are hard to find because they are Mosrite copies that were made in the late 60 and the early 70s. You just have to find them by chance in pawnshops, and I’m just gonna keep breaking them every time I get one

Did Kurt Cobain play Guitar Left-Handed?

Yes, Kurt Cobain played guitar left-handed but he wrote right-handed.

One can confirm this by watching the videos of his live performances. When in an interview with Guitar Magazine, Kurt was asked, why does he seem to favor low-end guitar models, to which he replied:

I don’t favor them – I can afford them. [laughs] I’m left-handed, and it’s not very easy to find reasonably priced high-quality left-handed guitars. But out of all the guitars in the whole world, the Fender Mustang is my favorite. I’ve only owned two of them.”

Kurt Cobain

Why did Kurt Cobain Destroy Guitars?

Kurt Cobain did it out of anger, frustration, and for fun.

In an interview Kurt said, he broke his guitars in two scenarios. One, if the show went well then he, along with his bandmates would break instruments as a celebration.

Two, if they played the show with mistakes and technical issues then out of frustration and anger they would end the show with breaking guitars and other instruments.

What Guitar did Kurt Cobain use for Nevermind?

Kurt used a Harmony Stella 12-string guitar that he bought for $30 at a pawnshop in 1989 to record all acoustic songs on Nevermind.

Though it was a 12 string guitar, Kurt only strung it with 5 strings. He also used duct tapes on the tuning pegs as the guitar hardly stayed on tune.

He also used Fender Stratocaster Black in the recording sessions of Nevermind.

Kurt Cobain’s Guitar from MTV Unplugged

Which guitar did Kurt Cobain used for MTV Unplugged?

Kurt Cobain used his Martin D-18E in Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance. He bought this guitar a few months before the gig in 1993.

As mentioned in Ground Guitar, this guitar is very rare and it is the earliest Martins to feature electric pickups.

How Much did Kurt Cobain’s Acoustic Guitar Sell For?

Kurt Cobain’s acoustic guitar (Martin D-18E) sold for $6 million ( excluding fees ) at Julien’s Auctions. According to Julien’s Auctions, it was the most expensive auction for a guitar in the world.

This guitar is also known as Worlds’s Most Expensive Acoustic Guitar.

Check out this link for the controversy related to this guitar.

Who Owns Kurt Cobain’s unplugged guitar?

Peter Freedman is now the owner of Kurt Cobain’s unplugged guitar. He bought this guitar at the two-day Music Icons auction by Julien’s Auctions.

According to a release from the auction house, Peter Freedman is planning to display the guitar in exhibitions to be held in various galleries and art spaces worldwide.

Where are Kurt Cobain’s Guitars now?

Most of Kurt’s guitars are destroyed by Kurt on stage and a few of them are auctioned.

The destroyed parts along with some of his possessions are kept in a humidity-controlled, high-security, secret vault, somewhere in Seattle. The exact location is not public yet.

In 2007, Geoff Moore ( LA-based photographer) was commissioned and given permission to photograph Kurt’s personal possessions that were stored in the secret vault.

Now the photographs are on display at KM Fine Arts Los Angeles.

List of Kurt Cobain Acoustic Guitars

Kurt’s Acoustic GuitarsNotes
Harmony Stella 12-StringBought for $30 and used on Nevermind and In Utero
1950s Kay P4 Archtop BlondeKurt used this guitar in the ‘Come As You Are’ music video
Kramer Ferrington KFT-1One can see this guitar in the 2015 Montage of Heck documentary, where it was smashed
1961 Epiphone TexanKurt used this guitar on stage at the Castaic Lake Amphitheatre, Castaic, CA on September 26, 1992
Martin D-18EKurt used this guitar in Nirvana’s MTV unplugged set

List of Kurt Cobain Electric Guitars

Kurt’s Electric GuitarsNotes
1970s Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3Kurt’s first electric guitar
Fender (Greco) MustangKurt’s first left-handed guitar
1970s Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 (Maple)Kurt was seen playing this guitar at Green River Community College, Auburn, Washington, in 1989
1973 Fender MustangKurt used this guitar live at The Sonic Temple, Wilkinsburg
1970s Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 (White)Kurt got this guitar as a gift from his girlfriend, Tracy Marander
Hagstrom II F-200Kurt used this live during Nirvana’s first European tour
1980s Washburn Force 31Kurt used this guitar for 5 gigs, later destroyed at Astoria Theatre, London
Hondo 737 Les Paul CopyKurt purchased this guitar at a pawn shop for $140
1970s Gibson SGKurt traded his fender mustang with Sluggo Cawley for this one.
Epiphone ET270Kurt smashed this guitar on stage at Pyramid Club, NY
1980s Aria Pro II CS-350Used during the Bleach tour and smashed at Motor Sports International Garage
Mosrite Gospel Mark IVPurchased by Kurt at Real Guitars in San Francisco, 1990
Fender Stratocaster (White, K Sticker)Kurt’s first left-handed guitar
Memphis (Matsumoku) StratocasterUsed by Kurt at “No More Wars” benefit concert in Olympia, 1991
Fender Stratocaster BlackHe used this guitar in the Nevermind recording sessions
Fender Stratocaster VandalismKurt’s first live electric guitar
Ferrington CustomBuilt by Danny Ferrington, Kurt used it live at Dublin at Point Depot, 1992
1965 Fender JaguarUsed during the Nevermind tour
1969 Fender Competition MustangKurt used this guitar in ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ music video
Fender Stratocaster (White)Used during the second European Nevermind tour
Fender Stratocaster Black, SD Hot RailsUsed during Nirvana’s Saturday Night Live performance, 1992
Fender Telecaster “ Courtney”Used during the Oceania tour in January/February 1992

Frequently Asked Questions about Kurt Cobain

Did Kurt Cobain play Guitar Upside Down?

Yes, Kurt Cobain played the guitar upside down. If you watch Nirvana’s MTV unplugged performance, you can see clearly that he was holding his Martin D-18E upside down.

Did Kurt Cobain Buy Leadbelly’s Guitar?

Kurt Cobain did ask David Geffen to buy Leadbelly’s guitar for him, but he didn’t. So, the answer to the question is no. He didn’t buy Leadbelly’s guitar.

Did Kurt Cobain play electric guitar?

Yes, Kurt played electric guitars. His first electric guitar was a 1970s Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 that was used in early Nirvana gigs. Throughout his career, he played a number of electric guitars by brands like Univox, Fender, Washburn, Martin, Hondo, Gibson, Epiphone, Memphis, Ferrington, and Ibanez.

How much is Kurt Cobain’s guitar worth?

His custom Fender Mustang guitar, which he played during the “In Utero” tour in 1993 sold for $340,000. The guitar that he used in Mtv unplugged sold for $6,010,000 Million including fees. Kurt’s cigarette-burned cardigan guitar sold for $334,000 at the auction. By these rates, you can simply calculate the worth of his guitars.

Who put Kurt Cobain’s guitar up for auction?

It was Julien’s Auctions that put Kurt Cobain’s guitar up for auction. The auction started at $1M and was bought by Peter Freedman (a businessman from Australia) for $6M, setting multiple records with the acquisition.

Note: If you find any information incorrect don’t hesitate to comment or contact us.

Also, ReadJimmy Page Guitars and Gears