A Kurt Cobain stage-smashed Fender Stratocaster is going up for auction

Kurt Cobain plays a Fender Stratocaster (left), the aforementioned Stratocaster after it was smashed by Kurt Cobain
(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

A Fender Stratocaster that was played onstage (and subsequently smashed) by late Nirvana frontman and electric guitar player Kurt Cobain is headed to the auction block.

Put up for sale as part of the latest Julien's Music Icons auction, the guitar is autographed by all three members of Nirvana and, notably, bears an inscription – written by Cobain – addressed to Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan. 

"Hell-o Mark!" the inscription reads. "Love, your pal, Kurdt Kobain [sic]/Washed up rockstar."

A Japanese-made model built around 1990, this particular Strat features a white pickguard, Gotoh tuners, and a Hot Rails pickup in the bridge position. Another inscription on the instrument's neck plate, "Boddah Lives," references Cobain's childhood imaginary friend.

Of course, the guitar is a little, well, banged-up. Its rosewood fingerboard is broken from the third fret to what would have been the fourth tuner. Three tension springs, however, are still attached to the tremolo block and three Gotoh tuners are still affixed to what remains of the headstock. The Strat's pickups and electronics, Julien's says, still work.

According to Julien's, Cobain gifted the guitar to Lanegan in the fall of 1992, during the North American leg of Nirvana's Nevermind tour. 

A Stratocaster that was played (and smashed) by Nirvana's Kurt Cobain sits in its original case

(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

The guitar's value is estimated at $60,000 - $80,000, with a starting bid of $15,000. Given, however, that a 1973 Fender Mustang that Cobain smashed to smithereens in 1989 sold at auction for an incredible $486,400 last November (not to mention the fact that the two most expensive guitars ever sold at auction both belonged to Cobain) we wouldn't be surprised if its final sale price ends up being significantly higher. 

Accompanied by a signed letter of provenance from its previous owner, Tony Palmer, a stage-used white Ernie Ball guitar strap, and a black Fender hard case with the inscription "Abort Christ," the Strat is currently set to go under the hammer on May 19. 

For more info on the guitar, visit Julien's.

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.