Burntout.com - A website for Kurt Cobain and Nirvana

Kurt's Equipment

This is, in my opinion, a nearly full and complete compilation of Kurt's equipment while he was in Nirvana. I looked thru countless books and magazines, and included everything I found. If I have missed anything that you feel important, please e-mail me and tell me so I can include it in a future update. All of this information is fact-based.

Abbreviations: PG Pick guard HB Humbucker SC Single coil

I will mention is there is a humbucker, all other pickups are presumably single-coils.


1. '69 Fender competition Mustang, lake placid blue, w/competition stripe, Pearloid PG, 2 SC's. Used in Teen Spirit video, one of his main guitars.

2. '66 Fender Jaguar, tobacco sunburst, tortoise shell PG, 2 Dimarzio HB's, modified? Kurt always said that this guitar (the guitar he polishes and babies) was a '66. However, all Jaguars from '66 onward had rectangular pearloid fret inlays, not dots like his did. Dotted fretboards were produced until '65. However, Jaguars were not made with Humbuckers, and had only 2 knobs, while Kurt's had 3 Kurt also had a coil tap covered by duct tape. Eric Erlandson plays this guitar in Hole's Doll Parts video.

3. Fender Mustang, Fiesta Red, Pearloid PG, 1 HB. In Pic from Hit Parader magazine, two page spread. Looks like early 93.

4. Fender Mustang, Sonic Blue, Tortoise shell PG, 1 HB. Designed specifically for him by Fender techs, the guitar was slightly reshaped. This was his main guitar for the entire In Utero In Utero - Vinyl-Album In Utero - CD-Albumtour.

5. Fender Mustang, Fiesta Red, Tortoise shell PG. Used on last tour, and in pics wearing orange and purple Sliver sweatshirt.

6. Fender Mustang, color unknown, pearloid pickguard. This is the mustang played in the DGC In Bloom In Bloom - CD-Singlevideo. Its in black and white, so I can't identify its color, but its none of the above. It has no stripe, 2 SC's and no painted headstock. Anyone help me out on this one?

Earnie Bailey, Kurt's tech, says that Fender sent Kurt 4 new mustangs for the In Utero tour. So, apparently I haven't seen them all.

7. Ferrington Mustang copy. Guitar designed by Kurt, made by Danny Ferrington, for his book, Ferrington guitars. It is Sonic Blue, has a Tortoise shell PG, two Bartolini Single-coils, one

Bartolini HB, and heart-shaped fret inlays. Kurt said that it would be his recording guitar.

8. Fender Jag-Stang, sonic blue, pearloid PG, 1 HB. You all know about this one by now. Kurt's design for a Fender guitar, a cross between a Jaguar and a Mustang. Mainly Mustang hardware, with a Jaguar-ish body. Courtney gave it to Peter Buck after Kurt died. He plays it in the What's the Frequency, Kenneth? video, and Mike Mills plays it live on Let Me In.

9. No-name Mustang. Used in the first In Bloom video. Greenish, blueish, whiteish. No pickguard.

10. Fender Strat Special, black, black PG, 1 HB. Coil tap. After Reading festival '91, he smashed the neck off, and replaced it with a Fernandes neck, which is visible in the performances of Breed, Polly, and About a Girl (and Endless, Nameless) on the Live, Tonight Sold Out video. Has sticker that reads: VANDALISM: AS BEAUTIFUL AS A ROCK IN A COP'S FACE (Corn on the cops! Corn on the cops!)

11. Fender strat, white PG, stacked black HB. Kurt had many of these, some had SC's, some had stacked HB's.

12. Fender Strat, white, white PG, black HB. Has "K records" sticker on it. Visible on Screaming Life cover.

13. Fender strat, white, white PG, stacked HB. Played at '92 MTV Video Music Awards.

14. Fender Telecaster, Sunburst, white PG, from solo part of Come as You Are Come As You Are - CD-Singlevideo.

15. Fender Telecaster, blue, white PG, has red heart, and "Courtney" painted on it. Maybe #14 with a paint job? Visible on back of Nirvana and the Seattle Sound book.

16. Fender Strat, black, white PG, black HB, Come as you Are, pages 166 and 177.

17. Fender Strat, sunburst, white PG, stacked HB, played at Reading 92.

18. Epiphone Les Paul Copy, brown (?), underwater Nevermind Nevermind - Japan - Vinyl-Album Nevermind - CD-Album Nevermind - Vinyl-Albumsessions, p. 184 in Come As you Are

19. Epiphone Les Paul copy, orangeish, Motor Sports show?

20. Univox? Sunburst guitar, white PG, Maple Fretboard, p. 116-117 in Rolling Stone's Cobain book.

21.White Univox. Custom-made, though still right-handed. Played in Heart-Shaped Box video.

22. Gospel (?). Sunburst guitar, white PG, page 34 of Nirvana and The Seattle sound book, also in Screaming Life.

23. Univox, sunburst, w/pink and green stickers all over it, Monkees sticker on back, WASP: We are scary Posers written on back. First ever smashed guitar.

24. Mustang copy, wood color, HB, Soundgarden sticker, especially visible in Incesticide Incesticide - Japan - Vinyl-Album Incesticide - CD-Albumtab book.

25. Epiphone (?) SG copy, played at Tijuana, Mexico concert. Visible on page 131 in Come As you Are.

26. Epiphone, played at Raji's concert (see film strip in CAYA) and Tijuana, Mexico.

27. Univox, sunburst Mosrite copy, played on SNL, 93.

28. Jaguar (?) copy, on cover of Alternative guitar #1. Strange looking guitar that I've never seen before. There is a better picture of it somewhere, but I can't remember where I saw it.

29. Univox, Mosrite copy, sunburst, white PG. Used in Sao Paulo concert, Aneurysm and Dive on Live Tonight, Sold Out.

30. Epiphone (?), red, used in Sub Pop In Bloom video.

31. Gibson, possibly Epiphone, odd-looking guitar in Come As You Are video. Not exactly Kurt's regular type of guitar, considering he turned down a Gibson endorsement, but Epiphone's are made by Gibson.

32. Martin D18-E Acoustic, used in Unplugged. Courtney played it on Hole Unplugged for Doll Parts and Hungry Like the Wolf.

33. Acoustic guitar with cutaway. Does anyone know what this guitar is? There are pics of it around, where he's wearing a leather jacket. I thought it was from the KAOS radio show he did acoustically, but Dave and Chris are there. It could be the mid-sixties 12-string Stella that he used for Polly and the first demo of Lithium. I've never seen this guitar's headstock, so I don't know if it is a 12-string or not.

34. Ibanez Vintage (Vantage? I can't read that small) acoustic from Tower records in store performance. Page 47, Nirvana and the Seattle sound book.

35. Epiphone Texan acoustic, with replaced lefty flat-top bridge. Used on In Utero tour? Possibly guitar with "Nixon Now" sticker on it.

36. Nixon Now Acoustic. Does anyone know what this is?

That's about it for guitars, that I have seen. I have obviously left something out, so e-mail me with any info you have, please. On a few notes, Kurt liked his guitars strung up HEAVY. Like a low .058. He felt that it affected his sound for the better.


Ampwise, Kurt was pretty flexible. I didn't concentrate on this area very much, as his sound came mainly thru his effects. If you look in any picture he'll usually be playing thru a different amp. This info comes thru his guitar tech:

For Bleach, Bleach - CD-AlbumKurt used a Randall head powering "the cab of the week". He obviously smashed them so often, he would play thru just about anything. When they started playing larger venues, Kurt switched to a Sunn Beta-Lead head driving Peavy 4X12 cabs. On Nevermind, Kurt supposedly played thru a Mesa/Boogie Studio Tube Preamp into Radio Shack speakers. I somehow doubt this. For touring, Kurt used multiple power amps and Marshall cabs. Kurt eventually settled with Crest 4801 Power amps. For In Utero, Kurt used his trusty Fender Twin Reverb. He also used the Twin Reverb on Unplugged. For the final tour, he used lots of Marshall cabs. He often played thru those mini-stacks with the red trim. That's all of the hard information I have ampwise, but there is an article in the new Guitar World (Oct. 96?) that is supposedly on the New album, Kurt's equipment, etc.


Here's the fun part. Kurt didn't use a whole bunch of effects, but the ones he had were pretty weird.

1. Boss DS-1 Distortion. Primary fuzz-box for the early years, often referred to as Roland EF-1.

2. Electro-Harmonix BigMuff. Used for Nevermind.

3. ProCo Rat. Used for Nevermind.

4. Boss DS-2. Kurt switched to a DS-2 after Nevermind.

5. Electro-Harmonix Small Clone chorus. One of Kurt's main effects, used for the watery chorus on Teen Spirit, In Bloom (maybe on verse???), Come As You Are, Territorial Pissings (interlude), Drain You (interlude) and clean part on Endless, Nameless. Also used on Incestide Aneurysm intro. Used on Unplugged show for Come As you Are, as well.

6. Electro-Harmonix Polychorus. The ultimate pedal. Four modes: Flanger, Chorus, Double Tracking, and Filter Matrix. Used on Radio-Friendly Unit Shifter, Scentless Apprentice, the LIVE Heart-Shaped Box Solo, Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Thru The Strip, The Priest they Called him, and Curmudgeon. Probably on others, too. On songs where the solos sound doubled over to perfection, like on Sappy (or for those of you that call it Verse Chorus Verse) he could have used a distinct double-tracking effect. I don't really know. I am sure about those songs though.

7. Electro-Harmonix Echoflanger. Same as Polychorus. Kurt had two of them apparently, and used them on the Unplugged show. However, I don't know what songs he used it on. I don't think he used it one any songs, but Guitar World says that he was arguing with MTV techs over the various qualities of the Echoflangers.

8. Tech 21 Sansamp. Classic model. Amp/cab simulator, Kurt used it for Distortion.

9. DOD Grunge pedal. Kurt was playing one on Live and Loud. An MTV joke, perhaps?

10. Vibrato footswitch. Okay, not really a pedal, but Kurt used amp vibrato (tremolo) from his Twin Reverb on the In Utero Heart-Shaped Box solo.

These are all the effects that I can find. Kurt also used a black pedal with a awhite strip on it that is visible in the picture inside Incesticide. Its also visible at the Motor Sports Show and Raji's pics in Come As You Are. Does anyone know what this pedal is? I'd appreciate some info.

I'd like to thank Justin McCully (McCully2@aol.com) for the Polychorus info. He sent me settings, examples, etc. Thanks a lot. I'd also like to thank Brian Habes (Bhabes@aol.com) for inspiring me to do this.

As I mentioned, this is by no means complete. E-mail me with all info, please. I have too many sources to list, so if you want to know where I got a specific fact, e-mail me and I'll tell you. Thanks.

By Chris Lawrence