Kurt Cobain’s 1980s Washburn Force 31

This guitar was used by Kurt for a brief period of time in late 1989, and it seemed to have directly replaced his Hagstrom guitar, as that one was destroyed on November 27th, while the Washburn was used on Nirvana’s next gig, on November 29th. This guitar was then used for five gigs total before it was destroyed on December 3rd, 1989 at Astoria Theatre, London – which was the last show of Nirvana’s European Tour.

Based on the photographic evidence, the guitar featured a black finish with a matching headstock color, rosewood fretboard, and a humbucker pickup in the bridge position.


What was left of Kurt’s Washburn was auctioned through Christie’s in 2003, the closing price being $1,975. As part of the auction, coupled with Kurt’s guitar, there were some pieces allegedly belonging to Courtney Love’s guitar. These are the pickguard and the bridge sitting to the left in the photo below.

Christie’s Auctions

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Daniel Tribley
Daniel Tribley
3 years ago

I have this exact giutar, bought it in 86. Sound is unique with the single H and the quality of the wood and build.. Understand he played in on Nevermind. Shame he smashed it, they made less than a thousand of these gems. Would consider selling to someone who can appreciate what it is. If you are in a Nirvana cover band this guitar is something you would certainly desire sound alone. In near perfect condition E-mail me I will send pictures on request. Original hard case as well…

Jordyn Miller
Jordyn Miller
2 years ago
Reply to  Daniel Tribley

Hey do you still have that Washburn force 31?? How much would you take for it?

Alfonso Bonzo
Alfonso Bonzo
6 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Tribley

He did not use it on nevermind.

2 years ago

Actually the Hagström II F-200 was Smashed on November 27, 1989 at the Piper Club, Rome, Italy.

November 28th Kurt had a day off And went to the Rome Coliseum with Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt (after Kurt’s breakdown the night before).

Kurt Actually used the Washburn Force 31 for 5 shows….

November 29, 1989 – L’usine, Geneva, Switzerland.

November 30, 1989 – Rote Fabrik, Zurich, Switzerland.

December 1, 1989 – Fahrenheit, MJC Espace Icare, Issy-Les-Moulineaux, France.

December 2, 1989 – Democrazy, Ghent, Belgium.

December 3, 1989 – Astoria Theatre (Lame Fest UK ’89), London, UK.

(And then Kurt Smashed the Washburn Force 31 at the end of the 12/03/89 show as it was the last show of the European Tour).

7 months ago

That piece of Courtney Love’s guitar looks like a Rickenbacker truss rod cover rather than a pickguard. She did play a 425 early on in Hole, so that checks out.