Kurt Cobain’s Mosrite Gospel Mark IV

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This was one of Kurt’s few actual Mosrite guitars, as all of the guitars prior to this were all cheap Univox knock-offs. According to info posted on the auction of the Mosrite decades later, the guitar was purchased by Kurt at Real Guitars in San Francisco in the fall of 1990 (no official page seems to be online, but you can search cached pages for source).

Apparently, aside from being Kurt’s guitar, this Mosrite is unique on its own for being the only Gospel with a Mark IV style body.

Kurt had only one Gospel, and this is beyond a rare guitar. Loretta sent me a nice letter (…) she had sent me some sales literature of another Gospel but could find no history of ever having made one based on the Mark IV guitar. Kurt’s Gospel had a letter from Mosrite with it, that was written to the person it was built for.

kurtsequipment.com

Based on photos, Kurt’s guitar featured sunburst finish, white pickguard, two single-coil pickups, and a Bigsby tremolo. Kurt painted the markers on the fretboard himself, as the original guitar didn’t have dot inlays, and removed the Bigsby spring and replaced with a wood screw.

Usage

It seems, based on photos, that the guitar was used from around when Nirvana returned to touring, after a short break, circa mid-August 1990. It was subsequentially seen on a few gigs that the band did in the UK later that year, and with the return to the States, and beginning of 1991, the Mosrite basically disappeared (below – video of Nirvana’s rehearsal circa late 1990; Kurt playing the Mosrite)

The Guitar Now

Kurt, for some reason, ended up selling the guitar to a pawn shop in LA, presumably sometime in early to mid-1991. Coincidentally, the person who purchased the guitar from that same shop shortly after Kurt had sold it, has an account on Steel Guitar Forums and has made a post detailing his experience (below is a summary, please read the full post for more details).

In a very small pawn shop in LA I bought a six string Mosrite Gospel with case. The case was stenciled NERVANA and under some black tape it said “F**K ELVIS”. I paid $ 125.00 for it. (…) Then a good friend of mine asked if I would sell it to him as he wanted to give it to a good friend of his as a gift. I sold it for $ 150.., what I had into it. He GAVE it away, to his friend. His friend passed away a little while ago and the family asked for info documenting where I bought it, a condition I found it in, etc. Turns out this was the guitar that Kurt Cobain used on all his early stuff.  I knew it was his, but who knew he would be the John Lennon of his generation…

Those hidden pawn shop treasures – Steel Guitar Forum

Based on what can be found online, the Mosrite was sold at least two times. First in 2004, selling for $117,500 to the only bidder, and the second time in 2006, when the closing price was $131,450. The current owner of the guitar is unknown, but the guitar is accounted for and could’ve been seen as part of EMP/MoPoP Nirvana exhibit.

Kurt Cobain’s Mosrite Gospel at EMP/MoPoP Museum in Seattle. Photo by: Jessie Hodge/Flickr
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Brian Fitzgerald
Brian Fitzgerald
6 months ago

I always thought he played this guitar at Rio in January 1993. Which guitar was that??

Rory
Rory
2 months ago

From pictures it also seems it was used at the roseland ballroom in July of 1993.

Patrick Taylor
Patrick Taylor
5 months ago

I’d guess Kurt didn’t sell the guitar to a small pawn shop in LA in 1991 and say rather it was stolen from Kurt and sold to a pawn shop. The main piece of evidence is the Nirvana sticker on the case. Seems less like the owner of the guitar to sell that with the sticker on it instead of someone who stole it and wants its value to reflect that it was Kurt’s guitar. if Kurt just one day woke up and said I need some quick cash I’m sure if he had to pawn something at that point he’d have amps and pedals and less rare guitars available to unload.
What’s more likely is that the guitar was either stolen from an equipment truck on tour or from Kurt’s apartment in LA by some seedy character of which there were likely many in and out of that self-described “opium den” at that point in his life. This guitar is too rare, especially for a lefty who had it modified and in 1991 he got rich the main reason he owned this rare piece to begin with.

Shawn McKenzie
Shawn McKenzie
3 months ago

Looks very similar to the guitar he played on SNL in 1993.