Kurt Cobain’s Guitars: A Guide to His Instruments

Kurt Cobain, the legendary frontman of Nirvana, was not only known for his distinctive voice and songwriting but also for his unique approach to guitar playing. This article explores Kurt Cobain’s guitars, examining the instruments that shaped his sound, style, and musical legacy.

Fender Mustang

One of Kurt Cobain’s most iconic guitars was his modified Fender Mustang. Cobain customized this guitar himself, adding features like a single humbucker pickup, a Gotoh bridge, and a Stratocaster neck. The Fender Mustang became synonymous with Cobain’s grunge aesthetic and was prominently featured in Nirvana’s performances and music videos.

Fender Jaguar

Another notable guitar in Kurt Cobain’s arsenal was the Fender Jaguar. Cobain used a 1965 Fender Jaguar during Nirvana’s early years, often playing it with heavy distortion and creating the gritty, aggressive sound that defined the band’s music. The Jaguar’s versatility and distinctive tone contributed to Cobain’s dynamic and energetic guitar playing style.

Martin D-18E

During Nirvana’s iconic MTV Unplugged performance in 1993, Kurt Cobain famously played a Martin D-18E acoustic guitar. This rare and vintage instrument, equipped with a Fishman pickup, showcased Cobain’s ability to adapt his raw, electric sound to an acoustic setting. His heartfelt performance of songs like “About a Girl” and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” on the Martin D-18E remains a poignant moment in rock music history.

Influence and Legacy

Kurt Cobain’s choice of guitars reflected his preference for instruments that were accessible, versatile, and capable of producing both abrasive distortion and melodic clarity. His use of modified guitars like the Fender Mustang and Fender Jaguar influenced a generation of musicians who admired Cobain’s DIY approach to guitar customization and his ability to extract raw emotion from his instruments.

Cultural Impact

Kurt Cobain’s guitars continue to be revered by fans and collectors alike, symbolizing his enduring influence on rock music and popular culture. The instruments he played, from the battered Fender Mustang to the delicate Martin D-18E, are artifacts of Cobain’s artistic journey and the evolution of Nirvana’s groundbreaking sound.


Kurt Cobain’s guitars are more than just instruments; they are symbols of his artistic vision, creative experimentation, and lasting impact on rock music. Whether it was the jagged distortion of the Fender Jaguar or the haunting resonance of the Martin D-18E, Cobain’s guitars played a crucial role in shaping the sonic landscape of Nirvana and defining his legacy as a pioneering musician. As fans continue to celebrate his music and commemorate his life, Kurt Cobain’s guitars remain cherished artifacts that embody the spirit of an artist who forever changed the course of rock history.

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