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

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 in 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 leave a comment below.

The difference in the pattern on the pickguards of the two Sky-Stangs

‘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, to 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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Ross
Ross
2 years ago

Hi,

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

fouie lerris
fouie lerris
1 year ago
Reply to  Ross

yes, kurt used this in some performances in the in utero tour. but he also used the tang 2 in it so its hard to see which is which. I’m sure if you go trough some live footage of the in utero tour you will find him playing this.

Esteban Bardi
Esteban Bardi
1 year ago
Reply to  Ross

I have photos of that guitar, bobby sent to me many years ago by messages, but i loose contact with him, i think he is a missing person now.

Rych
Rych
5 months ago
Reply to  Ross

Yes! after Kurt died, Courtney gave the guitar to a kid named Bobby Costello. I’ve seen the pics that kid Bobby had posted of him and a friend holding Kurts Sky-Stang III and next to him on the floor was Kurts Black G&G Guitar Case which had that long piece of masking tape in which Kurt wrote what guitar is in it, if you ever seen clips from Cobain’s Estate the secret underground bunker that has all of Cobain’s stuff packed away. And you can see from pictures or clips of Kurts other guitars inside those Black G&G Hardshell Cases you see the white masking tape marking what guitar is in what, so after Kurt died the 1993 Sonic Blue Mustang “Sky-Stang III” was one of 8 guitars I Kurts that Courtney had given away. So the story goes that bobby had his mom to write a letter to send to Courtney, and whatever they wrote touch Courtney enough to give him one of Kurt’s Sonic Blue Mustang. The Sky-Stang III (which Courtney messed up in the letter by saying this was one of his favorite guitars to play live but Kurt Never used the Sky-Stang III Live…. That mustang stayed at Cobain’s house still in its case and unopened. The only time it was opened when Earnie Bailey rounted it for a full size Humbucker. Like he did with Kurts other 3 Mustangs. And I can see why Kurt didn’t bring the Sky-Stang III on tour as Kurt already had the Sonic Blue Mustang Sky-Stang I, The Fiesta Red Mustang Oranj-Stang, the Second Sonic Blue Mustang with the Black Seymour Duncan JB Humbucker Sky-Stang II. And during the first show of the In Utero Tour on October 18, 1993 you can see Kurt’s Guitar Rack on the back side of the stage, and besides the 2 Sonic Blue Mustangs and the Fiesta Red Mustang, Cobain also had his 1969 Fender Lake Placid Blue Competition Mustang with Matching Headstock, the 1968 Univox Hi-Flier Custom Phase 1, The 1977 Univox Hi-Flier Phase 4, he might of had the Univox Hi-Flier Phase 2 with him as well. And he also had his 1961 Epiphone FT-79 Texan Acoustic, 1959 Martin D-18E Acoustic, his Natural Stella Harmony 12-String Acoustic, etc… And during the American In Utero Tour Kurt had 20 Black and White Made in Mexico Fender Stratocasters (which were only used for Destruction) and though Cobain had all those guitars with him he never used any of them except for the Fiesta Red (Oranj-Stang) and Sonic Blue (Sky-Stang I) Mustangs. and of course either the 1959 Martin D-18E Acoustic or 1961 Epiphone FT-79 Texan Acoustic for the Acoustic songs. And would use one of the Black and White Fender Stratocasters If the show Is gonna end with Destruction. (Which is weird when you think about it, from October 1990 – Late 1991 Kurt always used Made in Japan Fender Stratocasters in which he would modify them with Black Humbuckers (which were most likely Black Maxon Humbuckers since they are similar to the Humbuckers that’s in Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 and Phase 4 models) and into 1992 up until early 1993 Kurt would use MIJ Fender Stratocasters and always have either black or white Seymour Duncan Hotrail Pickups installed in the Bridge position. Then in late 1993 during the In Utero Tour Kurt had 20 Black and White Mexican Fender Stratocasters which he left completely stocked no mods as these were only used for Destruction.

But on October 21, 1993 at Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KS (3rd show of the American In Utero Tour) at the end of the show Kurt smashed his White 1977 Univox Hi-Flier Phase 4 (same guitar he used in the Heart-Shaped Box Music Video that was filmed on August 30 & September 2, 1993). Besides smashing that Univox Hi-Flier Phase 4 and the Mexican Fender Strats occasionally he didn’t bring up any of his other guitars he had with him on tour (which were sent back home) so for the rest of the tour Kurt only used his Main Sonic Blue Mustang Sky-Stang I and sometimes play the Fiesta Red Oranj-Stang Mustangs… Kurt didn’t use the Second Sonic Blue Mustang Sky-Stang II until late in the tour around early December I think it was on December 2, 1993 and played it on and off also played it on December 30, 1993…. He played it on 02/23/94 on the TV show ” The Tunnel” after the night before when Nirvana played in Rome at the end of the show, after they played the last song “Heart-Shaped Box” Kurt walks off stage and you see him behind his amps, and right when Krist and Dave started that Jam that’s mislabeled as “Whats my Sentence” you can see Kurt throw his Sonic Blue Mustang the Sky-Stang I over the Amps and it lands face down in the middle of the stage near Krist… Which may had fucked something up as to why Kurt used the Second Sonic Blue Sky-Stang II the next night on the TV show “The Tunnel” where they played Serve The Servants and Dumb but following the next two nights Nirvana played 2 shows at Palatrussardi, Milan, Italy on February 24, 1994 & February 25, 1994 (which the second show here is the last time they ever played Teen Spirit live again. At both the Feb 24th & 25th shows Kurt wore the same exact Clothes which confuses some people…. But after those two shows in Milan Italy on the 24th and 25th – Nirvana only played 2 more shows 02/27/94 Hala Tivoli, Ljubljana, Slovenia and their last show 03/01/94 Terminal 1 Flughafen München-Riem Munich Germany… Oh yeah i forgot to mention when Kurt had those 20 Black and White Made in Mexico Fender Stratocasters that was used for just destruction, that was only during the American In Utero Tour which was from October 18, 1993 – January 08, 1994 (then on Sunday January 30, 1994 Nirvana recorded “You Know You’re Right” while using his Univox Hi-Flier Custom Phase 1) the one he used at the 10/03/92, 10/04/92, shows and more noticably at the 10/30/92 Argentina show and 09/25/93 Saturday Night Live, New York, NY… Then After touring the United States on the In Utero Tour which ended on January 8, 1994. Then Nirvana head into Robert Lang’s Studio in North Seattle WA to Record You Know You’re Right, and an Instrumental version of that “Unknown Song/Jam” that they played at the end of the 12/29/93 San Diego Sports Arena, San Diego, CA the song that’s mislabeled as “Ivy League” then on 02/04/94 they were in France on a TV show and played 3 songs (Rape Me, Pennyroyal Tea, Drain You) the following day Nirvana went to the Venue they will be starting their European In Utero Tour at and did a Rehearsal so Melora Creager can learn the Cello Parts… Then on Feb 6th Nirvana started their European In Utero Tour which only lasted until March 01, 1994. Oh yeah I also forgot to mention that when But was still touring in America Kurt had this Brand New Made in Japan Fender Telecaster that Fender sent Kurt to replace the Broken Sunburst/front painted light blue with latex house paint with a Heart and Courtney scratch into the paint. But Kurt left the back the original Sunburst finish. That Tele was used from January 1992 – January 1993 when Kurt smashed it in São Paulo, Brazil. Then in Late/Fall of 1993 Fender sent Kurt a Brand new MiJ fender telecaster to replace the one he smashed. Kurt never used the new Telecaster live but he always have it with him, he would play it backstage, on the bus, in Hotels, etc… Then when Kurt OD’d in Rome on March 4, 1994 and while Kurt was in a coma (Kurt’s Guitar Tech) Earnie Bailey modified the Telecaster by replacing the Lipstick Neck Pickup to a Chrome Covered Gibson PAF Humbucker, then replace the bridge with a longer Bridge that fits a Humbucker in the Bridge which was a Black Seymour Duncan JB Humbucker, and it had Individual saddles for each string, and replace the tuners to Schaller Tuners (Kurt’s Favorite) and Earnie Bailey thought it would cheer Kurt up and get him out of the Funk, and also tried to get Kurt away from the Mustang/Jaguar image. Kurt got the new modified Telecaster back 2 weeks before he passed away but Kurt was happy with the Telecaster and said it was his new favorite guitar, and that he was going to record the next Nirvana album with it…. Before Kurt passed he did record some demos in his basement using that Tele he recorded a demo with Pat Smear and then another demo session in March in Kurt’s basement it was Kurt on Guitar/Vocals, Pat Smear on Guitar and Eric Erlandson (of Hole) on Bass (which Eric had to use Kurts Left-Handed Rickenbacker 4001 Bass playing it upside down while it is still strung Lefty. They recorded a version of “Do Re Mi” and a cover of the Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” none of these last demo Cobain basement sessions has yet to surface…. Anyways I hope I helped in someway…

Rych
Rych
5 months ago
Reply to  Rych

I messed up when I was talking about the demo sessions that was recorded in Kurt’s basement before Kurt passed away. That one Session with Eric Erlandson on Bass, Pat Smear on Guitar I meant to say Kurt was on Drums and Vocals (I accidentally typed guitar/vocals).

Chris
Chris
1 month ago

Look up the Great Western Forum show in December 93 in LA on YouTube. Bingo.
Also live in France on the TV show.