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  • Writer's pictureBilly Jones

Why Kurt Cobain?

While David Fricke of Rolling Stone ranked Kurt Cobain as the 12th greatest guitarist of all time in 2003, Cobain isn’t widely appreciated for his guitar playing prowess. Why did he make our favorite guitarists list?

He hasn’t made our list of favorite guitarists because of his impressive skill. We appreciate Kurt Cobain for his expressive playing and his fondness for low-end, budget model guitars. Kurt Cobain was not a guitar virtuoso but he was iconic and he inspired so many people to play the guitar.

Cobain was passion over skill.

In an interview in 1993 Kurt Cobain said: “I have no desire to become any better of a guitar player...I don't know the name of chords to play, I don't know how to do major or minor chords on a guitar. I couldn't even pass Guitar 101." He believed that reading music and understanding music theory got in the way of originality.

While we don’t entirely agree that becoming a better guitarist gets in your way of creativity, Cobain does have a good point about reading music. We don’t think guitarists need to read music either. Read more about that here.

Cobain's solos are more than meets the eye.

We also can’t help but think Cobain was being modest in this interview. Listen to Smells Like Teen Spirit and you’ll find something more interesting than meets the eye in his guitar playing.

In our favorite song, “Heart-Shaped Box,” Cobain’s guitar solo is short and simple but compelling. This song is a perfect example of how he wrote solos as a seamless part of his songs.

Check out this compilation video of Cobain’s guitar solos and you'll see what we mean.

You can play guitar right now!

We also deeply admire the way that Kurt Cobain inspired folks to play guitar. Even after he could afford fancy guitars, he preferred to get instruments from pawn shops. What started off as a challenge to find left-handed guitars became his signature. For example, Cobain’s first acoustic guitar was a Stella 12-string that reportedly cost him $31. He restrung it with six strings and duct taped the tuning pegs but he ended up using it to record “Polly” and “Something in the Way” on the album Nevermind.

Between his beat up guitars and his reminders that you don’t need to be a music prodigy to make music, Kurt Cobain’s music reminds all of us that now is the time to get started on playing the guitar.

Whether or not you are Kurt Cobain fan, if you are ready to get started on your journey, book a free intro lesson!


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