Kurt Cobain’s 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 the 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 Kurt ever used, and the only modification that he had done to it seems to be the added Seymour Duncan Hot Rails pickup in the bridge position.

Kurt used the Strat to play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” among others during the Reading Festival gig.

Kurt’s Reading Strat at EMP/MoPoP

At the end of the Reading Festival set, one can clearly see Kurt walking out to the crowd and giving this sunburst Stratocaster to the audience in the front row. Based on this, one would assume that this was the end of this guitar, and Kurt, for obvious reasons, didn’t get to use it again.

Hard to get a good snapshot of the moment, but if you watch the Reading Festival footage, you’ll see Kurt going off stage at the end, and handing his guitar to the crowd.

However, this seems to not be the case, because there’s another guitar that many refer to as the Reading Strat. This guitar, which was, by the way, a part of the famous Nirvana exhibit hosted at the EMP/MoPoP museum in Seattle (see video below), was according to MoPoP used during Reading and was later destroyed on November 26, 1993, in Morocco Shrine Auditorium in Jacksonville, Florida Morocco Shrine Auditorium.

The MoPoP Reading Strat

So based on this, the Reading Strat was indeed recovered from the audience (also confirmed by one of our readers, see comments below) and given back to Kurt. The only slightly problematic part is the fact that the Morocco Shrine gig was more than a year after Reading, so according to this theory, the guitar was kept safe somewhere during all those months. Furthermore, there are no photos of Kurt using the guitar at that concert, so it seems that all this information came from people’s statements.

Also worth pointing out is that by the time Kurt used the guitar at the Morocco Shrine Auditorium, the white Seymour Duncan Hot Rails was replaced with a black one.

Reading Stratocaster vs MoPoP Stratocaster wood grain comparison.
Reading Strat vs MoPoP Strat – wood grain seems to match pretty well. Click on the photo for the full-resolution version.
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Rych
Rych
2 years ago

Pretty Sure Security took the guitar from the crowd (as the filming was over) and gave the guitar back to Kurts guitar techs (Earnie Bailey or Big John Duncan), Besides using this Sunburst Stratocaster here at the 08/30/92 Reading Festival, Kurt also used this Sunburst Stratocaster on “Endless Nameless” at the 04/09/93 Cow Palace (Trenjevka Rape Victim Benefit) Daly City, CA and then later on used and smashed 11/26/93 Morocco Shrine Auditorium in Jacksonville, Florida.

Luca nirvana fan
Luca nirvana fan
1 year ago
Reply to  Rych
  • He didnt i have the reading strat at home also dave grohl smashed the second reading strat
Sarah
Sarah
1 year ago

No you don’t.

Chris L Hanson
Chris L Hanson
2 years ago

I actually have the guitar. The busted one is the fake!

Luca nirvana fan
Luca nirvana fan
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris L Hanson

No i have the guitar in my room

Sarah
Sarah
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris L Hanson

No, I’ve got it, so ner.

Alvin Win
Alvin Win
1 year ago

That guitar at MoPoP Was a univox because the reading Strat did not stickers on the back plus the reading Strat has a big crack in the middle of the body since Kurt had smashed the fender at Jacksonville Florida. Now The reading Strat is at MoPoP nest to a white fender Strat.

Luca nirvana fan
Luca nirvana fan
1 year ago
Reply to  Alvin Win
  • Not true the reading sunburst strat has a fan and the one with the big crack also used on reading festival was black and smashed by dave grohl not Kurt cobain the black one was a fernandes strat modified with a semour duncan hot rail
Alvin Win
Alvin Win
1 year ago

Also he smash it it at Jackson villa Florida

Alvin Win
Alvin Win
1 year ago

Oops sorry I forgot you put it on there

Bleach Stain
Bleach Stain
1 year ago

You Should rename this in (Bloodcaster), Kurt had been playing so hard and then he leave his blood on guitar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3XIGon2RjY
it’s defently in 0:50 sec.

Bleach Stain
Bleach Stain
1 year ago

Rory
Rory
1 year ago

There’s a picture from the Seattle center coliseum on 9/11/92 where you can see strat that might be sunburst, it could also be a lighting thing.

septemper 11 1992.PNG
James Elford
James Elford
1 year ago
Reply to  Rory

Back in 1995 I read in NME that a fan at Reading was given the smashed guitar by his mates as a birthday present. Security didn’t care and let the lads take the item. It sat under the blokes bed till 1995. Not sure what happened to it after that. 99% sure this story is true

Ridders310110
Ridders310110
1 year ago

I was at reading and have part of the guitar strap from this gig. Kurt put the guitar into the crowd and the roadie came down and retrevied it. The stings were snapped off it, but i manger to keep hold of the end of the strap. The bit that connect into the guitar. A Jim Dunlop spring loaded thing. I still have this today.

lol
lol
4 months ago

THINK I FOUND THE ORIGINAL ONE
I’m new to this,My names Lluc, I’m also that guy who found the black reading strat on a Hard Rock Cafe in Boston and commented on this page, maybe I’m wrong but I’ve seen a twitter post of moPOP back in 2018 saying that they will be displaying the original Reading Strat at the “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses.” I also have a random photo I found in the comments. Guitar looks identical with the blood stains and the snapped off strings but the only thing that i’ts not original from the one seen in Reading it’s the black hotrail pickup. Maybe it was changed or something but I’m pretty sure it is the orignal one. This change gives me a theroy and anwser of where did the strat go when left to the public. Maybe it was true that it was recovered from the crowd and then played in more concerts or maybe the white hotrail was removed and they changed it for the exhibit or something idk. Also it would be strange to not remove the blood stains for a new concert and we aslo know that people snapped of some strings and for so I think that it wasn’t played anymore and sombody replaced the hotrail and decided to leave the guitar like that.

Look for yourself https://twitter.com/mopop/status/972586916259553280
Correct me if I am wrong. Have a nice day !

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