Kurt Cobain’s Epiphone FT-79

This guitar was first seen at the Castaic Lake Amphitheatre, Castaic, CA on September 26, 1992, when Kurt joined Mudhoney on stage and played a couple of songs (video below). At that point, the guitar seemed to have been completely stock, but by July 23, 1993, when Kurt was next seen using it, a sticker reading ‘Nixon Now’ was added on the top of the body, just behind the bridge.

Less obvious, but probably more important to point out, the guitar had Schaller Tuning Keys and a Bartolini 3AV sound hole pick installed.

Based on the looks, Kurt’s Epiphone was either an early 60s model or older (some sources claim it’s a 1961 model). By the mid-60s the design of the model changed dramatically, with Gibson taking over Epiphone, to feature fewer curves, similar to Gibson’s J-45 model. Furthermore, no Epiphone logo on the pickguard, and the rectangular bridge, all matches models made no later than 1960/61. Also, opposed to popular belief, this is not a “Texan” model (see comments for explanation).

Nowadays, finding an FT-79 from this time period is extremely rare. Mostly, you’ll come across models made from the early 60s to 1970 – when the guitar was discontinued.


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4 months ago

I sold Kurt that guitar, when I worked at Norman’s Rare Guitars in Reseda. He had come in to browse in person, as I had always dealt with his management. We had just got the guitar in, and it sounded really great, so I said “you should really check this out, it’s really different- but plays and sounds great”. After playing it for a few minutes, both he and the guitar were sold.
I can’t remember what the exact model was, but I’ve not seen one since.
Kurt was really nice, very guarded, still wrapping his head around the superstar fame he was dealing with at the time. But tried to seem as grounded as possible. Such a shame.

2 years ago

This is not a Texan.

When Gibson acquired Epiphone (in 1957), the repurposed existing Epiphone model numbers, including the FT-79, on their new models.

Epiphone had produced the FT-79 in two different formats in New York – the original was a square-shouldered, Martin-style dreadnought, and then the version Kurt Cobain played. Gibson paired Epiphone necks with J-45 body parts to create their version of the FT-79, which was the first time it was called the Texan.