Kurt Cobain’s Univox Hi-Flier Phase 4 (Heart Shaped Box)

This is the guitar that Kurt most famously used during the ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ music video. It is presumably the only Phase 4 Univox that he owned (nearly all the previous ones were Phase 3s), and likely the last one that he ever acquired.

According to Anton Corbijn (Dutch photographer and video director), the video was shot sometime in September 1993 – so chronologically looking, that was the first time this guitar was ever seen. The only other time Kurt was seen with the guitar was on October 21, 1993, at Kansas City Memorial Hall.

It was in 1993. I think it was August for the photoshoot and September for the video. Before In Utero was released. Kurt heard from Courtney about videos I did for Echo and the Bunnymen because Courtney had lived in Liverpool for a while. Then Kurt asked me to send those videos to him, and I guess he liked them enough because he sent his ideas for this new video back to me.

How Nirvana Shot the ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ Video

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Zach Davis
Zach Davis
1 year ago

That Picture is of an eastwood replica not a real phase 4 univox

1 year ago
Reply to  Dan Kopilovic

I think Anton Corbijn is mistaking when he said “He thinks” the Photo Shoot was in August And the Music Video was in September before the Release of In Utero ….

The Photo Shoot was actually in Mid July 1993, and the Music Video was in August 1993… As during the Video Shoot for Heart-Shaped Box Kurt and Courtney were Arguing all day and she kept picking on Kurt telling him how important of a video it is and how he has to look “Good” and he replied “I look how I Look, I’ll look like myself” and as the day progress so did the argument and as a “Fuck You” Kurt put his Cigarette out in the middle of his forehead and said “Do I fucking look good enough for you now?” And it turned into a bad scab and so for the video they had to add make up to cover up the Cigarette burn and have a piece of Kurt’s hair taped down or whatever they use to cover it (that’s why in the last verse of the song in the video Kurt lifts up his hair to show the burn but his hair falls right back in his face”) anyways, the reason I’m bringing this up is because on September 2, 1993 Nirvana was at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards, and Kurt had the Scab on his Forehead so if he already had it by 09/02/93 there’s no way the video was shot in September 93′

And also besides the “Heart-Shaped Box” Music Video, the Only other time the White Univox Hi-Flier Phase 4 is seen is the October 21, 1993 Memorial Hall Kansas City KS (as you mentioned) but Kurt Also smashed this Univox at the end of the 10/21/93 Show.

Broke the headstock right off the Neck, and Spilt the neck in half….and broke the neck off the body, so it’s beyond repair.

1 year ago

The “Heart-Shaped Box” Music Video was filmed on August 31 & September 2, 1993. Kurt Originally wanted to use his 1969 Fender Lake Placid Blue Competition Mustang with Matching Headstock (same Mustang from the “Teen Spirit” Music Video), but they couldn’t find it, (it was either under Earnie Bailey’s Bed or Kurt’s bed) so Kurt used the White 1977 Univox Hi-Flier Phase 4. Besides the Heart-Shaped Box Music Video the only other time Kurt used this Univox Hi-Flier Phase 4 was at the 10/21/93 Memorial Hall Kansas City KS show during the In Utero Tour when it was smashed at the end of the show.

T Clark
T Clark
1 year ago

I have this same guitar. My parents bought it for me back in the 70’s to take lessons with and I still have it.

10 months ago

This was the Only Univox Hi-Flier Phase 4 that Kurt owned. He also only owned one Univox Hi-Flier Custom Phase 1 and one Univox Hi-Flier Phase 2…. The Rest Kurt owned/used were all Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 models.

1985-1988 Kurt used a Sunburst Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 which had many sticker changes on the front of the guitar, in the photos of Kurt from 1985/1986 in his bedroom in Aberdeen, WA Kurt had a bunch of these pink and green stickers all over it. Also had Monkees drawing and “WASP: We are scary posers” written on it on the back of the guitar, by 1987, Kurt removed all the stickers, and In summer of 1987 Kurt color the Pickguard with red scribbles, which he would later remove In 1988 Kurt had no stickers on the front and it looked like a fully stock Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3. By October 1988 Kurt had a bunch of the Stickers of Chim-Chim Kurts Plastic Monkey with the 9V Battery on it’s back in front of the collage of raw meat and disease vaginas (the exact picture on the back cover of the Nevermind Album) Kurt had around 3 or 4 of those stickers/picture on the front of the Phase 3 blending in with the Sunburst Finish. It was smashed on October 30, 1988…

On 11/23/88 Kurt used his first Left-Handed guitar which was a Fender Mustang which was Red but was Sanded down to the bare wood, (walnut looking finish) even though it’s a Fender Mustang Kurt used the Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 Humbucker in the Bridge, and used the Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 Pots (Vol/Tone/In-Put Jack) and the broken half of the Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 Pickguard, as a Mustang Control Plate… So though it’s a Mustang it had Univox Hi-Flier electronics so it’s basically a Univox inside a Fender Mustang body….

In May 1989 Kurt used a Natural Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 White pickguard, maple fretboard.
which was first used at the 05/26/89 Lindbloom Student Center, Green River Community College, Auburn, WA and sometime in Late May or Early June Kurt added Red Spray Paint to the body of the Natural Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 to try to make it look Sunburst (but it basically kind of looked more like Cherry Sunburst), this Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 was used during the Bleach USA Tour (Nirvana’s first US Tour) it was smashed on July 13, 1989 at Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ (45 minutes away from my house) then on July 18, 1989 Kurt used a White Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 serial # 037472. Purchased at a NYC pawn shop in the Chelsea district and was used on July 18, 1989 at the Pyramid Club (New Music Seminar), New York, NY until November 11, 1989 when Kurt smashed it at Ecstasy, Berlin, (West) Germany.

This would be Kurts last Univox Hi-Flier until 1992.

On October 3, 1992 Backstage at Carver Gymnasium, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA when Nirvana was the surprise unannounced opening band for Mudhoney. Earnie Bailey (Kurt’s Guitar Tech) handed Kurt the Univox Hi-Flier Custom Phase 1 serial # 1002904. Purchased from Danny’s Music This was Kurt’s favorite Univox. This was the first guitar that had a Duncan JB installed in it. Kurt loved the sound of this “plywood beast”. Earnie bought it for him for $150. The previous owner was a Minister in Everett, Washington. This had an Ibanez Gibraltar bridge installed.

The Univox Hi-Flier Custom Phase 1 was first used on October 3, 1992 Carver Gymnasium, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA (the day Kurt got it he used it on stage without even testing it)
Kurt also used it on October 4, 1992 Crocodile Cafe, Seattle, WA
October 30, 1992 Estadio José Amalfitani, Buenos Aires, Argentina
And the last time it was used live was on September 25, 1993 on SNL. (Kurt would use it on the recording of “You Know You’re Right” on January 30, 1994).

During the Soundcheck at the January 16, 1993 São Paulo, Brazil show and during the Encore of the January 23, 1993 Rio de Janeiro Brazil show and on the last 2 songs (“Teen Spirit” & “Endless, Nameless”) at the July 23, 1993 Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY shows Kurt used a Sunburst Univox Hi-Flier Phase 2 with Black P90s.

White Univox Hi-Flier Phase 4 serial #034638. Purchased at The Trading Musician in Seattle for $200 and Used in the Heart-Shaped Box video. It had black roller-type graphite string trees.
It had a maple fingerboard and a B.C. Rich made Badass bridge. It was Used and Smashed on October 21, 1993 Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KS.

Natural Univox Hi-Flyer, he had two of these, In Fall 1993, both with maple necks and fretboards. One had the serial #038706. This one was purchased at Guitar Maniacs for $150. They had stock humbuckers (which Kurt liked very much), Badass bridges (the stock humbucker models had single-piece bridges, while the P-90 single-coil models had Jazzmaster type bridge-tail piece units). A friend of his painted one of these in a Van Gogh style.

Sometime in 1993/1994 Kurt bought (but never used live)
Sunburst Univox, serial # 1002467. Had a mahogany neck, single coils, and was purchased from Danny’s Music.

Natural Univox. Had a black pickguard, humbucker pickups, and was purchased from Guitar Maniacs.

* So this is basically the History of Kurts collection of Univox Hi-Fliers guitars*

T Clark
T Clark
3 months ago

I have the same model guitar, same color. My parents bought it for me when I was taking lessons.