Eight myths about Kurt Cobain’s equipment that persons nonetheless feel | Guitar.com

Kurt Cobain is one of the most legendary and revered figures in rock ‘n’ roll, and his technique to guitar enjoying has influenced thousands and thousands of guitarists from all over the environment for above a few a long time. As is typically the way with tunes icons, there is plenty of myths and legends informed about Kurt’s shorter life and tragic dying, and a good deal additional encompassing the way that he made the seems that shook the environment like no guitarist has due to the fact. Fortunately, with the assistance of some of the individuals who ended up there, we can hopefully obvious some of individuals oft-repeated myths up.

The guitar applied in the Smells Like Teenager Spirit Video clip is at the Challenging Rock Café in Australia

Let us start out with an quick just one: the guitar Kurt made use of in the Smells Like Teen Spirit video is NOT at this time (nor was it ever) in an Australian location of popular restaurant chain Challenging Rock Café. Kurt utilised a 1969 Lake Placid Blue Opposition Mustang for the Smells Like Teenager Spirit video. Fender’s Competition Sequence was distinguished by the racing stripes on the overall body. They ended up produced from 1968 till 1973.

The guitar from the movie remained in storage in the course of the In Utero Tour as Kurt had not long ago been given 4 stock Mustangs that his tech, Earnie Bailey would modify for that tour – 3 Sonic Blue and one particular Fiesta Pink. In 2009, the Australian Challenging Rock Cafe claimed to have Kurt’s Competition Mustang from the legendary video clip, but the precise guitar has been confirmed and has been on display at the Museum Of Pop Society in Seattle for around a decade. It sporting activities a neck joint restore and problems alongside the lower edge sustained at the infamous Dallas Trees Club performance in 1991 when Kurt, obtaining a poor night, smashed it into the mixing board repeatedly.

The 4 Mustangs on the In Utero Tour had been modified thusly, according to KurtsEquipment.com.

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana
Impression: Raffaella Cavalieri / Getty

“First, the nut experienced to be reduce for heavier strings, then the neck shimmed for a improved bridge angle with the cardboard backings from resort stationery pads, and a Gotoh tune-o-matic bridge was set up. Earnie also experienced to modify the tailpiece to block the vibrato, which Kurt hated. He would take out the two springs for the vibrato bar, add washers to the posts beneath the bridge plate, which locked it down to the plate. Last of all, Earnie would flip the tailpiece around making it possible for the strings to feed straight by way of the tailpiece, not beneath, and the ball finishes of the strings would in good shape in the tailpiece’s recesses.”

Later on on, all of his Mustangs were being routed for entire-sizing Seymour Duncan JB humbuckers in the bridge place [with the exception of his 1969 Competition Mustang].

Kurt had a white mustang

Kurt did say that his favorite guitars ended up Mustangs and of system he owned numerous. But Kurt never ever employed a white Mustang – the Sonic Blue Mustangs could glimpse white in selected lights, especially the lights employed throughout the In Utero Tour.

Kurt owned a Jazzmaster

Kurt never ever owned a Jazzmaster, even though once again, the Hard Rock Café promises to be in possession of one particular, which is signed by Kurt. In all likelihood, this was a guitar somebody got autographed by Kurt at some issue and sold it to Tricky Rock boasting it was Kurt’s. Earnie Bailey has mentioned that he did at the time obtain a lefty Jazzmaster and was heading to acquire it for Kurt as a surprise, but he and Krist Novoselic decided it was much too high-priced.

Nirvana onstage
Picture: Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic

Kurt hated Les Pauls

Kurt didn’t essentially despise Les Pauls, he just hated what they represented at the time: common rock. That staying reported, Kurt did possess and enjoy a pair by means of the decades – he experienced a black Epiphone Les Paul that was made use of for a Nevermind photo shoot. He also experienced a Hagstrom 3/4 sizing Les Paul duplicate, which he got in 1992.

He experienced a Gibson SG Common that he smashed as properly. He experienced a still left-handed Ibanez Les Paul Tailor made copy that he essentially really preferred – it had DiMarzio X2N pickups with coil taps and pace knobs. Earnie suggests he may have despatched this out with the band when they have been recording In Utero. We are doubtful if it was utilized or not, but according to Earnie, “Krist once stated Kurt refused to engage in it dwell mainly because it produced him search like Jimmy Web page.”

Kurt in no way performed Marshall amps

Quite a few will cite the band’s performance on Best Of The Pops in 1991 where they ended up found with Marshall heads and cabinets as proof that in point they did enjoy through Marshalls, Prime of The Pops performances at that time were being usually (and notoriously) not dwell. The band was supposed to mime their way by means of a backing track of Scent Like Teen Spirit – the only factor to be executed live ended up the vocals. As with numerous other bands who took difficulty with this about the years, Kurt did his best to wreck the functionality the best middle fingers to ever grace the Top of the Pops airwaves.


People today who say that Kurt did not treatment for Marshalls are location on, nevertheless. In accordance to Earnie Bailey, “Regarding the Marshalls, Kurt seriously disliked Marshall amps. Partly, thanks to the entire hair metallic stigma taking place in the 80s, and he didn’t like the sound of them. I consider it was as well generic for him. If you recall, on his 4×12 cabs, he experienced his Marshall logos taped about, not taken out (which is a straightforward job), as a statement in direction of the status involved with possessing Marshall gear.

“Marshall 4×12’s are effortless to discover no matter if you are acquiring or renting overseas. This is a likely purpose why he utilized them thinking about how frequently they had to be replaced. Kurt applying a Marshall head for a energy amp is pretty out there. Think about it, a Marshall’s output phase is alternatively filthy and would be even much more so at the volumes Nirvana played at.”

In spite of all of this, there was basically just one time that Kurt did use a Marshall. It was in the course of one of the past recording classes he ever did at Bob Lang’s (Adam Casper was the producer) studio in Seattle. A lot more specifically, he used a Univox guitar and a 50-watt Marshall 2×12 combo to file the final track the band ever completed, You Know You’re Correct. As the tale goes, he showed up to the studio with no any gear and experienced to use a person that was at the studio. Earnie did some preamp tube swapping with an additional amp, to reduced the attain construction and dial in the sound of the 50-watt combo for Kurt.

Stay, Kurt usually applied a Mesa/Boogie preamp together with a few Crown 800W ability amps which would typically blow up for the duration of the Nevermind days. Those were switched out for two Crest 4801 electrical power amps, which have been significantly a lot more tough. Nonetheless, Cobain did have a short-lived Marshall Series 9000 electric power amp all through 1991. Kurt also was acknowledged to use a Carver energy amp, which was built by the wonderful Bob Carver. In the studio, he would frequently use a 135-watt Fender Twin Reverb Blackface [we believe it was a 1982]. Which had a established of 4 6L6 in the electricity phase and 7025 tubes in the preamp stage.

Kurt Cobain MTV unplugged
Image: Frank Micelotta / Getty Photographs

Kurt and the DOD Grunge Pedal

Established by DOD as a rather shameless funds-in on the grunge movement’s explosion of world wide level of popularity, the Grunge pedal was many youthful guitar player’s to start with pedal if they came to the instrument in the early 90s. In the decades because, having said that, people today normally remark that not only did Kurt approve of this pedal, he actually utilised it stay.

Properly, form of. On 29 December 1993 Nirvana played a gig in San Diego, and there on the flooring that night time was in truth DOD’s notorious Grunge pedal. Even so, through the gig he was noticed to enjoy the pedal for a instant, then unplugged it from the chain and threw it into the crowd remarking, “Excuse me, that was my grunge pedal.”

As you can see from the movie, even if we want to assert that Kurt did use the Grunge pedal, it was obviously as a joke, and his tossing it into the crowd almost certainly reveals what he considered of this dollars-in on the motion his band experienced made. The pedal that Kurt threw from the phase marketed for $16,000 in 2021.

What is Kurt’s distortion sound?

While some have claimed that Kurt’s most important distortion seem was a ProCo RAT, that is not totally true. It’s legitimate that a RAT was used on some songs on Nevermind, but the main distortion seem on that report was a humble Manager DS-1. Later on on In Utero and Unplugged, it was the DS-2. The In Utero tablature reserve also statements that a Rotovibe was used – it was not.

Kurt did not know just about anything about audio theory

Although it’s not a equipment myth, necessarily, we want to deal with the fantasy that Kurt Cobain rebelled towards or “shunned” music concept. Yet again, we turned to Earnie Bailey for solutions.

“With Nirvana, Krist and Kurt experienced potent thoughts about what document albums had been permitted in their properties, with numerous collections, and significant options in just every style,” he describes. “As a team, they had been analytical about well-known new music, to the place it became next character. So whilst they not have had specialized songs idea coaching, they absolutely had a strong operating expertise of it.

Kurt Cobain onstage
Image: Frank Micelotta / Getty

“David knew time signatures, experienced the more powerful musical vocabulary, and also the knowledge not to use it competitively. And like a lot of self-taught artists, they cultivated the persona of getting primitive musicians but in truth, they studied songwriting, the Beatles in individual.

“If Kurt publicly shunned tunes concept, right here is what I can offer you. As adolescents in the 70s and 80s, I recall musicians staying divided into groups finding out through the classroom, and individuals of us attracted to audio that appeals to reduction of management. We naïvely viewed tunes theory as a set of principles fairly than a musical language, and bashing it was a method of defense since we lacked the confidence or complex expertise of the terminology.

“So the argument in excess of concept grew to become a fork in the street induced by procedures, somewhat than a issue of improper or proper. For illustration, Ace of Spades by Motörhead, and Rikki Really don’t Drop That Variety by Steely Dan are both superb tracks, but worlds apart concerning composition.”

So have been any artists in Kurt’s history assortment that might surprise folks?

“They/he cherished ABBA! Which is the best just one I can assume of.”

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