Kurt Cobain’s Fender Competition Mustang (right-handed)

Kurt Cobain was photographed sitting on stage next to this guitar backstage at the Mecca Auditorium in Milwaukee on October 26, 1993 (photos taken by Kevin Mazur – see source below).

He was just sitting there, having a moment, and I started taking pictures, He looked at me and said, ‘You know what? Not now. Sorry.’ I left him alone after this.

Kurt Cobain by Kevin Mazur

Based on the photos, the guitar was right-handed and even strung for right-hand use. Therefore, there is a low chance Kurt had anything to do with it. Most definitely, this Mustang actually belonged to Steve Turner from Mudhoney, who opened the show that night.

And, just to clear the waters for people who may have come here following a different story – yes, there is an identical-looking guitar that can be seen hanging on a wall at the Hard Rock Cafe in Oslo. Allegedly, that guitar was sold to HRC by Courtney, and based on the photos, there’s Kurt’s autograph on it. Although the two guitars do look identical, there is very little chance they have anything in common. Also, there’s a low chance that that HRC guitar ever touched Kurt’s hands.


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3 years ago

Where did the photo of this guitar come from?

Bleach Stain
Bleach Stain
3 years ago

2 years ago
Reply to  Bleach Stain

That’s Kurt on October 26, 1993 – Mecca Auditorium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (7th show of the American “In Utero” Tour).
next to Kurt is Steve Tuner (of Mudhoney) Fender Lake Placid Blue Competition Mustang (which is seen on Mudhoney’s 1988 Album “Superfuzz Bigmuff”) and behind Steve’s Mustang is Krist Novoselic’s 1970s Gibson Ripper Ebony Bass.

Kurt owned a 1969 Fender Lake Placid Blue Competition Mustang with a Matching Headstock (which had a few mods done it had a 1980s Black Seymour Duncan Hotmail pickup in the bridge position, a Gotoh Tune-O-Matic Bridge added before the trip to Argentina in October 1992, the Tremolo Vibrato Plate was locked/blocked and the Hardtail was flipped). It’s mostly known as the guitar seen in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Music Video. As Kurt’s was a Left-Handed 1969 Fender Lake Placid Blue Competition Mustang with Matching Headstock and Steve Tuners Fender Lake Placid Blue Competition Mustang had a Natural Headstock his is most likely a 1971-1973 model.

And for the Record All of Kurt’s Guitars were Left-Handed except for the Following guitars which were Right-Handed and flipped and strung Lefty.

Kurt’s first guitar was said to be a Lindell, given to him on his 14th birthday by his uncle, Chuck Fradenburg along with a 10-watt amp. This guitar was left in an abandoned meat-locker Kurt practiced at with some friends. When he finally was able to get back to the meat-locker, it was in pieces. He saved the neck, electronics, and hardware and attempted to build a new body for it in wood shop. However, he couldn’t get its intonation and tuning right.

In December 1982, while Kurt was recording the “Organized Confusion” demo at his Aunt Mari Earl’s house in Burien, WA Kurt was seen playing a 1976 Sunburst Ibanez Destroyer Right-Handed flipped upside down and Strung Lefty, and Kurt drew Black & White Checkers onto the White Pickguard.

All of the Univox Hi-Fliers Kurt had used since Univox only made Right-Handed models, so the Sunburst, Natural, White Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 used between 1985-1989 the Univox Custom Phase 1 used 10/03/92, 10/04/92, 10/30/92, and 09/25/93), the Univox Hi-Flier Phase 2 (used during the 01/16/93 São Paulo, Brazil Soundcheck, The 01/23/93 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Encore, and 07/23/93 last two songs of the Roseland Ballroom show “Smells Like Teen Spirit” & “Endless,Nameless”) And the Univox Hi-Flier Phase 4 used in the Music Video for “Heart-Shaped Box” filmed August 31 & September 2, 1993 and it was used live on October 21, 1993 Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KS (3rd show of the American In Utero Tour) where it was smashed beyond Repair.

July 8, 1989 – Club Dreamerz, Chicago, IL and July 9, 1989 – Sonic Temple, Wilkinsburg, PA. Kurt used a 1973 Right-Handed Sunburst Fender Mustang which was flipped upside down and strung Lefty it had the Slider Switches removed, the Neck pickup removed and the empty pickup cavity was covered by a piece of masking tape and the bridge pickup was replaced with a Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 Humbucker.
this was smashed on July 9, 1989 and was traded on July 16, 1989 to Sluggo Cawley a Boston musician in a band called Hullabaloo also boyfriend of JJ Gonson. At Sluggo’s house in Watertown, MA Kurt traded the Smashed 1973 Fender Mustang for a Smashed 1970s Gibson SG.

October 12, 1989 in Edgewater, CO Kurt buys a Stella Harmony Acoustic from Edgewater Pawn Shop and Sheridan Jewelry. (Which was a 12-String but Kurt kept the same old 5 nylon strings on it and had to use a pair of Pliers to tune it).

During Nirvana’s Bleach European Tour Kurt used a Right-Handed Red Hagstrom II F-200 which was used from around November 4, 1989 – November 27, 1989 when it was smashed.

November 28, 1989 Bruce Pavitt of Sub Pop bought Kurt a Washburn Force 31 which was also Right-Handed and Flipped upside down and strung Lefty it was used for the Last 5 shows of the European Tour 11/29/89, 11/30/89, 12/01/89, 12/02/89, 12/03/89 where it was smashed at the end of the show.

December 20, 1989 Kurt buys a Hondo 737 guitar from Top Kick Jewelry & Loans, Tacoma, WA (this guitar was only used live briefly it was first used on January 6, 1990 East Ballroom, Husky Union Building, University of Washington, Seattle, WA to January 12, 1990 Satyricon, Portland, OR where it was Smashed.

After returning home from the European tour Kurt fixed up the broken 1970s Gibson SG that he got from Sluggo Cawley, Kurt painted the body Light Blue, had one Speed knob for the volume, and removed the other 3 Control knobs and Pots, had a 1970s Gibson SG Harmonica Bridge and Stop-Tailpiece and covered the bottom corner with loads of Black duct tape, added a Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 Humbucker in the Bridge position and removed the Neck Humbucker and neck Pickup Ring and added a Black Single-Coil Mustang pickup in the neck, and had it flipped and strung lefty. It was first used on January 6, 1990 East Ballroom, Husky Union Building, University of Washington, Seattle, WA and it was used on and off in early 1990 until February 17, 1990 Iguanas, Tijuana, Mexico where it was smashed beyond repair.

Kurt then main guitar was a 1970s Red Burst Epiphone ET-270 which he used from January 1990 to April 26, 1990 when it was Smashed.

May 2, 1990 Charlotte, NC Kurt buys a Aria Pro II Cardinal Series CS-250 before Nirvana’s show at The Milestone in Charlotte, NC. The few mods done to the Aria Pro II Cardinal Series CS-250 Kurt removed the Truss Rod cover, removed the one small Phase toggle switch, removed the Speed knobs for the Bridge Tone, Neck Tone, Neck Volume, and only kept the Bridge Volume Knob (which he used a Univox Hi-Flier phase 3 style Vol Knob instead of the Speed Knob), took the plastic tip off the Pickup selector, and bent the Toggle switch and the coil tap switch in the “Bridge Position”, and removed the Bridge Protomatic IV Cream/Black Humbucker and added a All Black Maxon Humbucker in the Bridge position. It was used from May 2, 1990 – May 17, 1990 (when Nirvana played their last show with Chad Channing on Drums).

August 1990 Kurt buys a Mosrite Gospel From Real Guitars, San Francisco, CA.
when Nirvana played live on an 8-Show as the Opening band on Sonic Youth’s Goo West Coast Tour in August 1990, Kurt was now using the Sunburst Mosrite Gospel Mark IV flipped and strung Lefty, which was his main guitar and the Aria Pro II Cardinal Series CS-250 was his back up guitar (until the Aria Pro II was smashed on September 22, 1990 Motor Sports International Garage, Seattle, WA).

Anton Brooks gave Kurt a Black Univox Les Paul Custom Copy on the European Tour in 1991. It had no serial #, had a bolt-on neck, a Witchy Poo sticker on the body, stock hardware and a painted Flipper fish over logo in white.

1965/1966 Sunburst Fender XII electric 12-string, serial # F 136692, dot neck, right-handed. It had cherub stickers on it. It was purchased around the end part of the “Nevermind” tour. It was damaged in the Spring of 1992. Kurt hid some guitars, songbooks, and tapes in their bathtub figuring burglars wouldn’t look in the tub, were the house ever robbed. The bathtub filled with sewage and damaged his guitar the most – the body was water-stained about halfway up, spilt, and warped.

1950s Kay Archtop 6868 Acoustic and 1950s Kay P4 Archtop Blonde F-hole Archtop Harmony. It had fake painted flame maple on the sides and top, and had a maple fretboard. These two were used in the Come As You Are video.
Blonde F-hole Archtop Harmony sat in the doorway to Kurt’s home with a broken headstock. Kurt said he liked it that way.

National Map Body Resoglass, turquoise, serial # G14667, right-handed, tremolo, small body fiberglass model, had 2 pickups.. strung lefty but the strap button wasn’t moved. It never toured.

Sometime in 1992, Kurt bought a 1961 Epiphone FT-79 Texan Acoustic (which he first used live when Kurt performed “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” solo at Castaic Lake Amphitheater, Castaic, CA) During a Pavement, Mudhoney, Sonic Youth concert.

the 1961 Epiphone FT-79 Texan Acoustic had some mods done, the guitar’s adjustable bridge was changed to a lefty flat-top bridge and a standard saddle, the bottom strap pin was removed and a 1/4” Input jack was installed, and Kurt added a “Nixon Now” Bumper Sticker across the bottom of the body, the original plastic tuners were replaced with Schaller Tuners, and a Bartolini 3AV pickup with Clear Soundhole mounts was added.

1960 Hagstrom Deluxe 90 Blue Sparkle.
3/4 size Les Paul copy. Had a Blue Sparkle
finish and had a Pearloid fingerboard and back. Kurt got this in December 1992, paid $500, a lot for that model at the time. (It was a Christmas present to himself).

Blue Mosrite Mark IV that was damaged in bathtub incident. Kurt gave this to Pat at SNL 1993 (which Pat played 09/25/93).

1950s Fender MusicMaster, Surf Green.

Martin D-18E Acoustic serial # 166854, bought at Voltage Guitars in Los Angeles, CA in the fall of 1993.
just a few months prior to the Unplugged gig. It is actually a pretty rare guitar only 302 were made before it was discontinued in 1959. It is basically a D-18 acoustic but with two pickups, three control knobs (one volume and two tone), and a selector switch. Kurt probably didn’t have any idea how rare the guitar was when he bought it,
it was one of the earliest Martins to feature electric pickups. Kurt’s guitar, serial number 155864, was just number 7 out of 302. Voltage recut the existing nut so a left-handed Kurt could play it, although out of intonation, filled in the bridge and routed the new slot for the bone piece. The D-18E didn’t sound very good, so in addition to the instrument’s stock DeArmond pickups (which were designed to be used in conjunction with nickel strings and didn’t sound very good and sounded poor with the bronze-wound strings that Kurt was using), so the guitar was fitted with a Bartolini 3AV sound hole pickup – which Kurt already tried out on his Epiphone Texan. The Bartolini 3AV pickup was added to the top and the selector switch was set in the middle position using all 3 pickups. The Bartolini 3AV and the Two DeArmond Pickups. (As seen on the Unplugged gig).

3 years ago

Just to let you know the Right-Handed Fender Competition Blue Mustang Kurt was sitting next to at the 10/26/93 Mecca Auditorium, Milwaukee, WI Show that was “Steve Turner” from Mudhoney guitar (as Mudhoney was one of the opening bands on that show) the only Competition Blue Mustang Cobain ever owned was the 1969 Lake Placid Blue Competition Model Mustang With the Matching Headstock, (Used in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video).