Kurt Cobain’s Fender Stratocaster MIM (Black)

Kurt played a few (possibly even up to twenty) different MIM Fender Stratocaster in late 1993, few of which were destroyed, some were given to fans, and some perhaps never even got a chance to be played live. One of those guitars ended up in the hands of one of GroundGuitar’s visitors, Guillaume.

Guillaume according to this own words, attended Nirvana’s gig in Rennes, France on February 16, 1994. What follows is his personal statement.

It was at the end of the show, the lights had been switched back on and people were starting to leave. I was stuck against the railing of the front row, so I had to wait, when suddenly Kurt came back onstage on his own carrying this guitar, which was not played during the show as it was one of those half-dozen black & white Mexican Fender Stratocasters that he had for destruction, (but no destruction jam occurred that night). As you can see it’s been played, smashed and pieced back together (new neck for once).

Anyway, he came down straight to me and handed it over. There was a huge crowd movement of course, people trying to snatch the guitar or touch him, and he seemed a bit scared. Eventually he took it back, realizing I would get beaten up and that everybody would leave with a string or a tuning key lol, and asked the nearest security guy to lift me up above the rail, which he did, and I was then given the guitar backstage, but not by Kurt who had already fled…I waited a few minutes for my friends to come pick me up at the back exit and protect me. It was one of those nights!

Although it is widely agreed (and even confirmed by Kurt’s guitar tech Earnie Bailey) that Kurt was using precisely Mexican Strats around this time, Guillaume did some research on his own and discovered some interesting facts about his own guitar –

(Guillaume:) Fender was busy trying to launch their line of right-handed MIM Strats in the early 90s that they couldn’t bother to launch a production line for lefties. So from 1991 to 1996 the leftie Mexican Strats were made in Japan with Asian componentry and specs! As to the reason why — it’s typical Fender shenanigans, but my bet would be that it allowed them to get rid of the low-end leftovers from Japan. It’s always about the cost with them.

Guillaume was also kind enough to send us some photos of the guitar.


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1 year ago

Hi! I was just looking at some video and I see a red stratocaster but ist not the memphis one because this strat have not a matching headstock. In the video we can see the wing of the statue of in utero so it will be in 1993. Kurt was destroying the strat so I think is one of the multiple strat that use just for that. Its look like a red finish but it can be the light reflect of the show!

here the link!


1 year ago

Kurt plays a red candy 57 MIJ strat to the11/04/93 and the 11/12/93 and he abuse it, the strat is completly stock except the bridge pickup, he put a SD STK white

11 months ago

Kurt also had a red strat that he used in November 1993, he told a crowd on November 12 that he had decided he didn’t like it. It also looked like it had a single railed pickup in the bridge.

9 months ago

hey, i wanted to let you know there’s amissing guitar on this. it is an ibanez destroyer. here is a photocomment image

Rhoads Brady
Rhoads Brady
7 months ago

I also recently found a picture of Kurt using a black strat that has a tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece with a humbucker in the bridge. (edit: i see this is also on the list now)

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Last edited 7 months ago by Rhoads Brady