Fender Kurt Cobain Jag-Stang: Nevermind 30th Anniversary Unit Shifter?
The Jag-Stang is back
The Fender Kurt Cobain Jag-Stang has its official release today and brings back the slightly oddball mashup of a Jaguar and a Mustang back into existence. Just in time for the 30th anniversary of Nevermind.
Fender Kurt Cobain Jag-Stang
I worked in a guitar store when these first came out in the ’90s and I can still remember us all laughing at this odd new Fender model by Kurt Cobain when it was delivered to our store, and the peculiar baked-bean colour of the red one. Well, now 30 plus years later it is a bit of a classic, and yes, it is still a little odd. Still, it has that pawnbroker vibe that he was known for.
I got to see Nirvana play live in the early days on a few occasions (pre-Dave Grohl) and Kurt could be seen wielding either a Mustang or a Strat. I never saw him play a Jaguar, or any offset for that matter. But those were the early days. For the Nevermind tour, he was often seen with a 1965 Fender Jaguar. And of course, the 1969 Fender Competition Mustang that famously appeared in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video. So it makes sense that he decided to have the two models morphed into one.
Nevermind Unit Shifter
This Mexican-made reissue of the original is based on Kurt’s hybrid design that melds a Fender Jaguar with a Mustang, which Fender put straight into production. Nirvana was then at the top of their game, so anything associated with the band was sure to shift units. It has a slim-C profile 24″ scale-length maple neck, with a 7.25” radius rosewood fretboard.
The body is made from alder, and you can get it in either Fiesta Red (the Baked Bean moniker was given by Mr Pat Heath back in the ’90s) or Sonic Blue. The hardware consists of a six-saddle vintage-style Mustang bridge with a tremolo, vintage-style tuners, and a four-ply aged white Pearloid pickguard.
Pickups are a custom Jag-Stang humbucker in the bridge and Jag-Stang single-coil in the neck position, all wired up via a single tone and volume control, plus a pair of Mustang slider switches with four settings. These give you on-off/in-phase/out-of-phase options for each pickup.
Thankfully, they are also making a left-handed version. Kurt was a southpaw, so they had to, really.
Are they any good?
I haven’t played one for 30 years. But I do remember that the originals sounded awful and would not stay in tune with the factory fitted 9 gauge strings. All of us in the store I worked at hated them at the time, but they sold to young Nirvana fans like hotcakes. Nowadays, I suspect if you set them up correctly with a decent set of strings, and dial your amp in right, they could sound good.
And, I suspect a lot of the young kids that bought the original, will want one again. Nostalgia will probably play a large part in the sales of this guitar. I don’t hate them, though I am still really bemused by them and have never found the model particularly appealing. That doesn’t mean anything though, and I think if you like short-scale Fender guitars, then you may well love the Jag-Stang.
The original ’90s models are selling for super inflated prices now, as they were only available for a short time, so it is great that they are available once more for the fans. I bet Kurt would be laughing at the 30th Anniversary of Nevermind and the unit shifting opportunities of corporate greed. Or something like that. Either way, go enjoy this reissue Jag-Stang and go make some music with it.
RRP – EUR 1299 inc gig bag
More Information on Fender
Fender Jag-Stang Demo Video
- Fender Kurt Cobain Jag-Stang Sonic Blue: Fender
- Fender Kurt Cobain Jag-Stang. Left Handed in Fiesta Red: Fender
Even more ugly, ridiculous, and devoid of aesthetic merit than I remember. Contrived to be awkward for commercial purposes. So just as before, a perfect tribute to the man.
Long time jagstang owner. No shame. This guitar is not for a lot of people but it is for those like me. People who like slab bodies that don’t slide around from overcontouring. The body feel is closer to teles and vintage mustangs than anything cut on the tummy and arm areas. People who prefer inspiring curved necks rather than personality lacking flat two hand tap twiddle sticks. Not everyone wants to be a member of Dream Theater. People who like mod platforms that acoustically respond to the changes they make in electronics can appreciate its tweakability. A huge oversight of this guitars personality is because so many people throw high output pickups in to solve the poorly voiced originals. If you put a vintage strat single coil in, it sounds and pulls like a vintage strat. If you put in a low output humbucker you will find the muddy mid range and skronky shortscale qualities subside letting notes bloom, chords jangle and ring, and responsive distortion that better lends itself with overdrive type playing than djent chugging. There are enough PRS likes out there to keep everyone else happy.