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Kurt Cobain's Martin acoustic guitar is up for auction

Kurt Cobain's Martin acoustic guitar is up for auction  ·  Source: Juliens Auctions

The Martin acoustic guitar owned by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is going up for auction. The instrument is famous for being used on the MTV Unplugged show and is said to be the last one ever played by the troubled musician. This iconic guitar is expected to sell for more than $1 million!

Kurt Cobain MTV Unplugged Martin

The guitar started life as a 1959 Martin D-18E and was eventually modded by the left-handed guitarist by adding Bartolini pickups. The instrument was made famous due its appearance on the Nirvana MTV Unplugged performance, a show that was filmed and released as an album. Many Nirvana fans around the world associate this one-off instrument with Cobain, so it is a pretty special piece of rock history.

Kurt Cobain MTV Unplugged Martin

Kurt Cobain MTV Unplugged Martin

Cobain Case Candy

The guitar still has its original hard shell case, which was decorated by Cobain with a flyer from Poison Idea’s 1990 album Feel the Darkness, three baggage claim ticket stubs attached to the handle, and an Alaska Airlines sticker affixed to the case. The contents of  the case include a half-used pack of Martin guitar strings, three guitar picks, and Cobain’s stash bag, decorated with a miniature silver spoon, fork and knife.

Kurt Cobain MTV Unplugged Martin

Kurt Cobain MTV Unplugged Martin

Divorce Settlement

Back in 2018 it was reported that the guitar was no longer with his family. Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, allegedly left the instrument to her ex-husband, Isaiah Silva, as part of the couple’s divorce settlement.

Juliens Auctions of the Kurt Cobain MTV Unplugged Martin

Juliens Auctions of the Kurt Cobain MTV Unplugged Martin

Smells Like Profit?

This very special guitar will be sold at Julien’s Music Icons event, taking place June 19 and 20 in Beverly Hills. It can be viewed at the Hard Rock Cafe in London’s Piccadilly Circus May 15-31 and then at Julien’s Auctions Gallery in Beverly Hills from June 15-19. Unfortunately, due to the COVID 19 lockdown, fans may not get the chance to see it at these venues.

With starting estimates for the Kurt Cobain 1959 Martin D-18E at around $1 million or more, this piece of music history will no doubt go to some private collector and end up inside a vault somewhere. So this may well be the last chance the world will have to see this iconic guitar.

Cobain’s Fender Mustang, his last instrument on auction, sold for $340,000 in October last year. However, I suspect this acoustic guitar will fetch a lot more, because of its link to the iconic MTV Unplugged performance, which many fans associate with Nirvana.

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by Jef

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Little known fact about the guitar and the session: In the videos you might notice the other guitar player behind Cobain. Curious because you really only hear two guitars in the session: “Cobain’s guitar”, and Novoselic’s. I put that in quotes because what really happened is that Cobain was so stoned that the studio placed a session musician – that other dude – just behind Cobain, and that dude was told to watch Cobain’s playing and shadow it so that the mixer guy could fade from Cobain to the session musician whenever Cobain’s playing was bad. In the end Cobain… Read more »


Pat Smear. Toured with them for six months as, ahem, “backup”. After Cobain died and Nirvana ended he went on to rejoin Grohl in the newly-formed Foo Fighters.


Dane, what the hell are you talking about? Are you stoned or just a troll? We can hear two guitars and one bass consistently the whole show. Pat was in the band. Singing is a lot more difficult than playing those songs on the guitar, did he had a session singer as well for his f*ckups? Did he seem sooooo stoned during the show that MTV would have to resort to that? Musicians can play on heroin, so it would have to be a high dose like you suggest… Well, he managed to walk out of there by himself and… Read more »