Kurt Cobain's custom 1993 Fender Mustang, used on Nirvana's In Utero tour, is up for auction

(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

Kurt Cobain’s custom Fender Mustang electric guitar is being sold at auction as part of Julien's Icons and Idols: Rock 'N' Roll collection.

Cobain played the left-handed guitar, finished in sky blue and accented by a red mottled pickguard, during Nirvana's In Utero tour; following his death in April 1994 it was given to a fan by Courtney Love.

The Mustang was constructed in 1993 by Scott Zimmerman, a prototype and custom builder for FujiGen, a Japanese instrument manufacturer who built all of Fender’s Japanese instruments.

Fender reached out to Zimmerman, who had built the necks for Cobain’s first two Jagstang guitars, because the company’s Custom Shop was not equipped to build left-handed Mustangs at the time.

10 examples were ordered in total, with six, in fiesta red and sky blue, sent to Cobain before his death.

(Image credit: courtesy of Julien's Auctions)

The model up for auction was shipped on October 22, 1993; the two guitars shipped on that date are also the only two with a small decal that reads "Offset Contour Body Patented" on the headstock.

Upon the guitar’s arrival in the U.S., Cobain’s guitar tech further customized it, adding a black Seymour Duncan JB pickup in place of the stock single coil, as well as a Gotoh Tune-o-Matic bridge.

As reflected by a label on the original case, the guitar was known as Skystang III. It is being auctioned along with the handwritten letter Love composed to the fan who ultimately received the guitar three months after Cobain’s death. 

Also included in the auction is the original Fedex shipping document and images of the guitar on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

(Image credit: courtesy of Julien's Auctions)

Bidding currently stands at $75,000, though Julien’s, which is calling the Mustang "the most thoroughly documented Cobain guitar to come to market, with a solid track of its provenance," expects the guitar to fetch between $300,000 and $500,000. 

The auction, which also includes items like a Chris Cornell-owned and -played Gretsch Duo Jet and a Galveston electric guitar signed by the members of Aerosmith, closes on October 25. Head here for more information.


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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.