Kurt Cobain’s Fender Mustang ‘Sky-Stang III’ (Sonic Blue)

access_time First seen circa 1994

This is one of the four Fender Mustang that Kurt allegedly acquired sometime prior to the ‘In Utero’ tour, and had them all routed out so they could fit a full sized humbucker pickup in the bridge position. Compared to the other three guitars, this one seems to have been either used very rarely or not at all.

The guitar was set-up in the exact same way as the others – with a black Seymour Duncan JB pickup instead of the stock single-coil, plus a Gotoh Tune-o-Matic bridge.

Was the Guitar ever used Live?

It is very hard to determine whether this guitar was ever used live, due to the fact that it looks nearly identical to the ‘Sky-Stang II’. The only visual difference between the two seems to be the pattern on the Tortoiseshell pickguard – this guitar had a small orange blotch between the pickups, while the ‘Sky-Stang II’ had a similar looking blotch below the bridge pickup.

And, while the ‘Sky-Stang II’ can be spotted on the photographs taken during the ‘In Utero’ tour, that doesn’t seem to be the case with this guitar. If you by any chance happen to come across a photo with Kurt playing this guitar (keep an eye for the orange spot to the left of the bridge pickup), be sure to either contact me or leave a comment below.

‘Sky-Stang III’ after Kurt’s Death

Right after Kurt died, Courtney gave the guitar to a kid named Bobby Costello. Apparently, Bobby had written a letter to Courtney, saying how much he liked Kurt’s music, and how much it made an impact on him, on which Courtney replied and sent out what she referred to as “one of Kurt’s favorite guitars” to him. According to a post-Bobby made on Facebook some years ago, the guitar was sold at some point without his permission.

This was one out of 8 guitars given out after Kurt Cobain died and I got one right after Kurt passed away, from Courtney Love Cobain, after my mom and I sent her a letter saying how sad it was to lose Kurt and my Grandpa. So I got the custom Fender Mustang that he played on the In Utero tour and recordings. I have doucumented proof that I am the owner and it was taken without my permission and sold without my consent. Now I have been finding this all out. And its really hard. I have been in touch with Kurts old bandmates good friends authors just about every one but Courtney Love whom I have been trying to contact again. I lost touch with her a few years back and she knows the guitar is stolen and she is also upset that its at Rock n Rolls hall of fame in Cleveland, Ohio. [Kurt Cobain’s/my guitar SKY TANG 3 – Facebook]

It seems that the next owner of the guitar was Jeff Gold of Recordmecca, who often seemed to have lent it Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Museum, where many have photographed it. It seems, however, that the guitar was sold once again, as Reccordmacca has the item marked as ‘sold’ on their website [Kurt Cobain – Owned & stage played custom made Fender guitar].

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Did anyone ever see a good picture of the sky’s tang 3?

Continue browsing, or go subdirectory_arrow_leftBack to Kurt Cobain Gear Page
access_time 1991

1965 Fender Jaguar

This guitar is probably one of the most recognizable guitars used by Kurt, probably because it was used extensively during the ‘Nevermind’ tour. Although it’s impossible to say for sure just based on photos, it seems that Kurt didn’t use it live until the start of the European tour, circa mid-August 1991. It is however very likely that he acquired it at least a few weeks prior to this. I own a […]

access_time 1991

Fender Stratocaster “Vandalism”

This is perhaps Kurt’s most widely known and most recognizable Stratocaster. The first time it appeared seems to be sometime around June 1991, and at that time it was used alongside another black Stratocaster, but with a white pickguard. Given that this is the first guitar that Kurt played live following the Nevermind studio sessions, it is possible that he used it on the album to some extent. When the […]

access_time 1988

Greco Mustang

This Mustang first appeared in late 1988, and it directly replaced a Univox Hi-Flier that Kurt smashed on October 30, 1988, in Olympia. It appears to be the first left-handed guitar that Kurt ever owned, and one that he modified pretty extensively. Kurt allegedly bought the Mustang at Guitar Maniacs shop in Tacoma, WA. However, the shop’s owner is only quoted saying that Kurt bought a bunch of Univoxes from him, so […]

access_time 1992

Fender Telecaster "<3 Courtney"

This guitar first appeared at Hordern Pavilion gig in Sydney, Australia on January 25, 1992. It originally styled a 3-tone sunburst finish, but Kurt sprayed the whole body with blue latex paint and carved out a heart and Courtney’s name on it. It also originally featured two single coils pickups – but the bridge pickup was replaced with a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails – something Kurt would often do on his guitars from this point on. Kurt played […]

access_time 1986

1970s Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3

This is one of the first guitars (likely the first electric guitar) that Kurt ever bought. To try and figure out when exactly Kurt acquired and used the guitar, we mostly have to draw clues from these photos, which unfortunately have no official dating, so we’re left to theory craft. Kurt Cobain’s Univox Hi-Flier On close inspection of those photos we see a few concert flyers on the wall behind Kurt; there’s […]

access_time 1991

1969 Fender Competition Mustang

This guitar is undoubtedly best known for its appearance in the music video for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, filmed on August 17, 1991. Given that this is the first time chronologically that Kurt ever used it, it assumed that the Mustang was purchased somewhere around that same time. The first time that Kurt used the guitar for an actual live gig appears to be at Beehive Music & Video store in Seattle on […]

access_time 1993

Fender Mustang 'Oranj-Stang'

This guitar was first seen on July 23, 1993, at Roseland Ballroom, NYC. At that point, the guitar was completely stock, and it featured a fiesta red finish and had a red Pearloid pickguard with two white single coil pickups installed in it. Allegedly, this was one of the four Fender Mustangs that Kurt acquired prior to the ‘In Utero’ tour, with three of them being finished in blue. All […]

access_time 1991

Fender Stratocaster (Black, smashed during “Endless, Nameless”)

In early 1991 Kurt started playing a black left-handed Stratocaster with a white pickguard and a full-sized humbucker in the bridge position. The first time the guitar was photographed appears to be March 8, 1991, at Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Canada. Nevermind Studio Sessions Kurt had this guitar with him when the band entered the studio for the second time to finish up the album, in May 1991, during which they recorded most […]

access_time 1993

Fender Mustang 'Sky-Stang II'

This was second of the three blue Fender Mustangs that Kurt acquired sometime prior to the ‘In Utero’ tour, and one of the four Mustangs in total he used around that time – the fourth one being a red one. All four guitars were modified in a similar way sometime between July and October 1993 – with their bodies being routed out in order to fit a full sized humbucker […]

access_time 1992

Fender Stratocaster (Sunburst, Reading Festival)

This guitar was first used Reading Festival in Reading, England, UK, on August 30, 1992. Kurt started off the set with his 1965 Fender Jaguar but switched to this Stratocaster at around 30-minute mark, and played it for most of the gig, aside from a few songs on which he used another black colored Strat. The guitar was most likely brand new since it was the first sunburst Strat that […]

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