Kurt Cobain’s 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 take this piece of info with a grain of salt as there doesn’t seem to be an actual source behind it. Also, based just on the looks of it, it seems that this guitar is just something Kurt picked up possibly even for free and worked on it himself until he made it playable.

He often appeared onstage with other models, including a sunburst left-handed Greco Mustang copy that he bought from Guitar Maniacs. The Mustang copy allegedly was destroyed on July 9, 1989, but it may have experienced some form of reincarnation since a similar guitar is seen in photos of Nirvana on January 6, 1990.

Guitar World The Life & Genius of Kurt Cobain, By Guitar World

The Guitar and its Incarnations

On the oldest photos of Kurt with the guitar, dating to November 1988 (again, you’ll have to search for these yourself, due to copyright they can’t be displayed here), the Mustang appears to have been finished in either sunburst or a solid color, and it styled a rosewood neck with no visible branding on the headstock. The guitar also had no pickguard, and it only had a single pickup in the bridge, identical to those fitted on a Univox Hi-Flier 3 guitar, and the white control plate from that same model.

This means that most likely this pickup came directly from the Univox that Kurt smashed in October, and goes along with the theory that this Mustang is something Kurt pieced together himself.

Fast forward a couple of months, by January 1989 the guitar appears to have been sanded down to bare wood. Also, a Soundgarden sticker was placed just above the bridge, and Kurt cut out an old vinyl record and used it as a pickguard. Although photos available of this guitar are really blurry and it’s hard to say for sure, it seems that Kurt used a vinyl record of a Christian sermon dubbed Where Are The Dead? published by Thomas Road Baptist Church.

By April 7, 1989, the body seemed to have been painted light blue, and the improvised vinyl pickguard was replaced with a proper Mustang pickguard in white. The neck, the pickup, and the control plate all remained the same – if indeed this was the same guitar.

The guitar can also be seen on the cover of the Bleach album. Note that Jason Everman, whos on the right, himself had a vinyl record pickguard. In his case, it was a copy of Venom’s At War With Satan.

From then on the guitar didn’t see much stage light, and for the next few months, Kurt mainly used a maple neck Univox Hi-Flier instead. Many have assumed that the guitar was smashed sometime in mid-1989 and that that was the end of it. However, there’s no photographic evidence of this, which opens a door to another theory.

The Final Incarnation or a Separate Guitar?

It appears that a guitar similar to Kurt’s old Greco Mustang was seen on the footage from February 14, 1990 (see video below). The Mustang is at this point painted light blue and fitted with a dark-colored pickguard that had a cutout for the neck pickup.

After Kurt smashed the guitar in the above video, filmed on February 14, 1990, at Kennel Club, San Francisco, CA, years later, most of what was left of it ended up on display at the EMP (now Museum of Pop Culture) founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000. They themselves have posted a piece regarding the history of this guitar at – THE BRIEF, BEAUTIFUL JOURNEY OF COBAIN’S MUSTANG.

Kurt’s Mustang guitar on display at the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Seattle. Photo by: Davide Costanzo/Flickr

The guitar pictured above was obviously repainted at least twice. According to the article posted by MoPoP, it was painted white at some point in mid-1989, and blue later that year. However, there doesn’t appear to be a single photo in existence of this guitar painted in white, so that part of the story is far from well established.

What makes sense logically is that Kurt probably painted it light blue first (note the lighter shade of blue around the control plate), in April 1989. Then, around early 1990, when he painted one of his other guitars, a 1970s Gibson SG, he could’ve used the rest of the paint on this Mustang. The SG was smashed on February 17th, while the Mustang on February 14th. So as far as the dates, this story would make sense.

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kurt lover
kurt lover
5 months ago

you forgot kurt strato acoustic guitar, heart shaped box guitar and the nevermind photo set underwater with a les paul

Leandro
Leandro
2 months ago

I really don’t think this guitar is a Greco but a real Fender Mustang, if you read Kurt’s Journals you can check out a letter he wrote to Dale Crover where he tells him about a left handed Fender Mustang that he bought from a bunch of “greeners” for 20 bucks because apparently the guitar was in rough shape and he refers to it as a “pre cbs” mustang.

KC6794
KC6794
2 months ago
Reply to  Leandro

Leandro you are correct. There are photos of this guitar that show parts of it pretty close up. In one of those photos you can clearly see the Fender logo on the vibrato. There is also an interview from 1990 with Chad and Krist where Krist describes the guitar and how they attained it. He mentions several times that it was a “real Fender”. When they got the guitar it was missing all the electronics as well as the pickguard and control plate. The guitars above from the Kennel club and from the In Bloom video are not this guitar.… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by KC6794
Leandro
Leandro
1 month ago

I hope KC6794 answers regarding that interview….in case you need it, here you have a few screenshots of the letter Kurt wrote to Dale Crover. https://imgur.com/IxNy8TV https://imgur.com/vbYqmMr

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