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 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, 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, there’s a problem with this, because there’s another guitar that for some reason 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 allegedly used during Reading and was later destroyed on November 26, 1993, at Morocco Shrine Auditorium in Jacksonville, Florida Morocco Shrine Auditorium.

The MoPoP Reading Strat

So either the guitar was recovered by the security near the front line of the crowd and given back to Kurt, or there’s something fishy with this second sunburst Strat that was seen at the EMP/MoPoP. If you happen to come across a piece of information that would solve this puzzle please be sure to leave a comment below.

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20 days 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.

Chris L Hanson
Chris L Hanson
1 day ago

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


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