Kurt Cobain’s Unknown Mustang (“In Bloom”, Surf Green/Sonic Blue)

This Mustang was put together by Kurt sometime in early 1990 to serve as a disposable guitar/something he could destroy at the end of a show. It could also be that this is the same guitar that Kurt used in February that year – a pink Mustang that aside from the finish, looked identical to this guitar, but based on an interview that Nirvana did in 1993, they were likely all different guitars.

(Kurt:) We even built a bunch of Mustangs at one time. We bought some necks, and took pieces of wood and cut out the bodies and put necks on – and they were completely out of tune. But we did a pretty good job.

(Krist:) We had this little assembly line in the garage, where we -incomprehensible- painted them.

(Kurt:) Those were all destroyed in one tour. That was about like four years ago, probably. At least.

Kurt Cobain – Nirvana Interview Seattle, August 10, 1993, by Edgar Klüsener

It’s obviously not 100% that Kurt and Krist are talking about these exact Mustangs, but given the time frame and the fact that these looked very hand-made, it’s probably somewhere around 99%. Kurt remember that being four years ago, so going from the fact that the interview was filmed on August 10, 1993, February 1990 – which is when these guitar were used, sounds about right.

Usage

The blue Mustang was first used sometime in late April 1990, likely on the night of 27th during the Amnesty International Benefit concert. It was last seen just three nights later on April 30, 1990.

Most famously, the guitar was featured on the alternative version of the In Bloom music video [Nirvana – In Bloom; YouTube]

The next few gigs, played between 1st and the 5th of May all lack any photographic material, so it is unknown whether this guitar was trashed at one of these shows. Based on what happened to nearly all of Kurt’s old guitars, this is very likely.

Based on the photos, the guitar was fitted with a Shaller non-tremolo bridge, and a what appears to be a Maxon pickup in the bridge position – likely taking origin from one of Kurt’s old Univox guitars. However, the bobbins on the pickup are black, which doesn’t seem to fit the description of any of his older guitars, so it is more likely that the parts were acquired separately, or that Kurt used a different pickup, and somehow added the metal shielding on top of it (if this is even possible to do).

The color on the guitar looks different depending on the footage. For example, based purely on the In Bloom music video, one would assume it’s finished in Surf Green. But, if you Google some of the photos from, let’s say, Nirvana’s gig on April 30, 1990, the guitar looks closer to Sonic Blue (which also opens up the possibility of there’s being two guitars).

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Elvis
Elvis
1 year ago

Was that last mustang the one destroyed at Bogarts, Long Beach in 1990. I think there’s video of that show.

Rych
Rych
1 year ago
Reply to  Elvis

Kurt Had 3 of these Home-made Mustangs … He had a Sonic Blue one with a Black Pickguard (which was smashed on 02/14/90 at Kennel Club), he had a Light Shell Pink Mustang ( which looked exactly like this one) that was smashed on 02/16/90 at Bogart’s and the third and final mustang this Surf Green Mustang was smashed either on 04/30/90 or 05/01/90.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Is this thread still alive? I have the neck from this guitar.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  Rych

The surf green (with Jesus pickguard) was smashed on Feb 14.

Rych
Rych
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

Jeff, I Know… If you Read my message from Above I said Kurt had made 3 Home-Made Hybrid Mustangs, the First which was the Sonic Blue (with the Jesus Pickguard) was Smashed at the Kennel Club, San Francisco, CA the Shell Pink Mustang was Smashed at Bogart’s, Long Beach, CA and the Third and Final Home-Made Hybrid Mustang the Surf Green one (which is seen in the Sub Pop In Bloom Alternate Music Video from footage of Maxwell’s April 28, 1990) the Surf Green Mustang was Smashed either on April 30, 1990 at J.C
Dobbs, Philadelphia, PA or May 1, 1990 The Cat’s Cradle, Chapel Hill, NC …. (As the next show May 2, 1990 Kurt Bought the Mesa Boogie Studio Preamp, Crown Power Base 2 Poweramp and an Aria Pro II Cardinal Series CS-250).

The Fender Mustang Kurt used from 11/23/88 – April 7, 1989 which was originally Red but was Sanded down to bare wood. and Kurt added a Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 Humbucker in it and used the Broken Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 Pickguard as the Mustang Control Plate, it still had the Toggle Switch which was bent down and covered with Duct Tape, and had the Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 Pots (Vol/Tone/In-Put Jack) along with the Univox Vol+Tone Knobs on the Mustang, which was used 11/23/88 the next show after the 10/30/88 Dorm K208, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA show which Kurt smashed His Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 (which was the first time Kurt smashed his guitar) and used the parts from the Broken Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 for the Fender Mustang, and by Jan ’89

January 1989 the guitar had a Soundgarden sticker which Kurt placed just above the bridge, and Kurt cut out an old vinyl record and used it as a pickguard. 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 Pearloid white
Mustang pickguard. The neck, the Univox Humbucker, and the Univox Broken Pickguard control plate all remained the Same… It was last seen at the April 7, 1989 Annex Theatre, Seattle, WA show until it was used and Smashed at the end of the February 9, 1990 Pine Street Theater, Portland, Or show. And the Gibson SG which Kurt received from Boston Musician Sluggo Cawley Guitarist for Hullabaloo who Kurt traded his Smashed 1973 Sunburst Fender Mustang Flipped upside down and strung Lefty, with No neck pickup, and the empty pickup cavity was covered by a piece of masking tape and Kurt had a Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 Humbucker in the Bridge. This Mustang was only used for 2 shows July 8, 1989 Club Dreamerz, Chicago, IL and July 9, 1989 The Sonic Temple, Wilkinsburg, PA where it was smashed on July 16, 1989 while in Watertown, MA (Day after Nirvana’s Green Street Theater, Jamaica Plain, MA show) on July 16, 1989 Kurt traded his Smashed 1973 Sunburst Fender Mustang for a smashed 1970s Gibson SG that was hanging on Sluggo’s wall. Kurt signed the Fender Mustang for Sluggo and wrote “yo Sluggo! Thanx for the trade if it’s illegal to rock n roll then throw my ass in jail NIRVANA” and the Gibson SG was fixed and rebuilt by Kurt after Returning home from Nirvana’s European Tour, it was first used on January 6, 1990 (along with a Hondo 737 which Kurt purchased on December 20, 1989 in Tacoma WA)…
The SG was smashed in Tijuana Mexico on February 17, 1990.

So February 1990 Kurt Smashed the following guitars:

Fender Mustang Light Blue (highly modified with Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 parts) on February 9, 1990 – Pine Street Theater, Portland OR.

Home – Made Hybrid Sonic Blue Mustang (Jesus Pickguard) on February 14, 1990 – Kennel Club, San Francisco, CA.

Home – Made Hybrid Shell Pink Mustang on February 16, 1990 – Bogart’s, Long Beach, CA.

1970s Gibson SG (Painted Sonic Blue, Had a Univox Hi-Flier Phase 3 Humbucker in the Bridge, unknown black Single-coil pickup screwed in the neck position, and had tons of Black duct tape covering bottom butt end of the SG) on February 17, 1990 – Iguana, Tijuana, Mexico.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  Rych

I guess what I’m trying to say is the Jesus pickguard guitar was not Sonic Blue. I have the neck from it (got it at Kennel
Club show) and it’s def Sea Foam.

The paint cap to the left is Sonic Blue.

F6A4EC84-B7B4-4BE9-9CBB-E146286F84DA.jpeg
Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

The photo didn’t show up at first…there it is.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jeff
Rych
Rych
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

Well when you see the “Color” Pictures from Rough Trade Records, which Nirvana & TAD Played earlier in the day before the Kennel Club Show, and it looked Sonic Blue, In those Pics. So that’s why I thought it was Sonic Blue (As Kurt had the Surf Green Mustang which was Identical to the Shell Pink Mustang that smashed at Bogart’s in Long Beach CA on February 16, 1990.) The Surf Green Mustang which Kurt used After he smashed his Epiphone ET-270 on April 26, 1990 at the Pyramid Club, New York, NY. Kurt used the 3rd (Last) Home Made Hybrid Surf Green Mustang from April 27 – April 30, 1990 (which is seen In parts of the In Bloom Sub Pop version Music Video as those clips are from the 04/28/90 Maxwell’s, Hoboken NJ show) which was 45 minutes away from my house.

And by the way I didn’t see no picture, no picture appeared in your post.

Rych
Rych
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

Nevermind, I see the picture now… That’s cool you have the neck from that guitar… Do you remember what happened to the body of that guitar!?

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  Rych

No idea where it went. I originally grabbed it and their roadie took it from me and said ‘we’ll make other guitars from that’ and gave me the neck instead.
If you look at the Rough Trade pics (I was there as well…they autographed my Love Buzz 7”) the headstock looks either white or a light wood grain in some of the other pics. I
Don’t remember him changing guitars at the Rough Trade in-store but he may have very well also used a pink Mustang copy.
Thinking about the In Bloom alternate video, I think I see at least four or five different guitars. But despite there being a surf green single pickup guitar in the video, my surf/sea foam green with Jesus pickguard guitar had already been dead two months when it was shot.