How to Play the Guitar Like Kurt Cobain

Image Source

Teacher. Guitarist. Legend. That is Kurt Cobain, and for everyone who has a passion for playing the guitar, he is a master of his craft and his legend continuous. Kurt Cobain is a very guitarist’s dream. They want to be like him. They want to be as good as him. But this master’s success and the extraordinary talent in playing the guitar did not just come to him that easily.

Kurt Cobain worked hard to perfect what he does best. Looking at him, it looked so smooth, s easy whenever he plays the guitar. His fingers run easily on the instrument as if they were just made perfectly for it. Every music he makes came from strumming the guitar. He speaks the language and creates music. He is just the master of his craft. He is an extraordinary musician, and he loves to know that people play his songs. He wrote his won songs and formed the famous band called “Nirvana,” which became famous beyond our imaginations and ruled the world of rock and roll!

Who is Kurt Cobain?

Kurt Cobain is a legend. A music influencer. An Icon.

But on top of that, he is a musician, a guitarist, a teacher. Kurt Donald Cobain was born on February 20, 1976, at Aberdeen, Washington. He took an interest in playing the guitar when at a young age, and his first guitar was given to him on his 14th birthday by his Uncle Chuck. He became obsessed, and he took guitar lessons for a month just to know the basics and enough to play the song “Back in Black” by AC/DC. He continued practicing until he was able to create his own music. Kurt Cobain used Dean Markley strings gauge .010-.052. According to his interviews, he used to use piano strings because it is a lot thicker. He uses a thick E string and a smaller size A. He preferred Dean Markley because they are also cheaper.   

Perhaps one of the most iconic bands in the 90s, Kurt Cobain established Nirvana, which became one of the biggest bands globally. It defined music from a new perspective and redefined the music from another perspective. It gave a new generation of musicians another platform to begin with. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana were one of the biggest acts in the world. Fans all over the world embraced Nirvanas music, particularly the guitarists.

Kurt Cobain was a fantastic musician, and everyone wants to be like him. They became the generation’s new voice and gave the industry another face. The rock n’ roll industry became alive because of Nirvana. Everyone loved them, and Kurt Cobain’s exceptional guitar playing skill made everyone want to be like him. He was an epitome of a master guitar player, and he was true. He plays with too much passion, talent, skills, and style. He was amazing. Everyone wants to be like him. Kurt Cobain used a number of guitars but the very famous one is his 1959 Martin D-18E, which is an acoustic-electric guitar that he used during their MTV unplugged performance in 1993. The 1959 Martin D-18E’s price range is around $19,000 – $20,000, but Cobain’s acoustic guitar is a price collectible, and it was once insured for $1 million or more.

Now you would like to play the guitar like Kurt Cobain? It may take a lot of hard work, but if you are passionate about your dreams and hone your talent, then these simple tips may help you in realizing your dreams.

1) Get the perfect guitar

Image Source

It is not just your journey. It is you and your guitar in this journey. If you want to make it to the industry, and be good at what you do, get the best instrument for you. Professional guitarists treat their guitars with so much passion. It is like a part of their body. An extension of their being and their soul. Guitarists treat their guitars like their lovers. You and your guitar are one. So you must get the perfect guitar for you. It will take you on your journey. So the first thing that you have to do is get the best guitar for you.

2) Master your chords

Mastery is another essence of getting your guitar skills into another level. When you are a beginner, you start mastering your chords first; then, you try to play the scales, the modes, and so on. It will make your fingers familiar with these things, and it will make playing easy for you and the viewers, it will look like you are playing with so much ease.

If you master your chords, playing other songs will be easier for you. Just like professional guitarists, it seems like they can play any songs you give them. Give them a music sheet, and they can play it. Some talented musicians can play by just listening to music. That is amazing, and it takes a really good ear to do that. Mastery is the key.

3) Master the Power Chords

 If you want to play like Kurt Cobain, listen to Nirvana music. Notice that they often use power chords in their music. That made them known. If you have mastered your chords, it is easier for you to study the power chords. It may take a little time, but if you want to learn, nothing is impossible. Keep on mastering the power chords and listen to Nirvana music.

4) Use Open Strings

Kurt Cobain is very famous as the master of using open strings by using the notes to embellish the chord being fretted or clashed against it to intensify the punk rock sound.  He has been very experimental with using this technique that it gave structure on some of his early recordings such as Bleach head-twister Paper Cuts and Incesticide doom-pop hymns Aero Zeppelin and Big Long Now.

5) Try to Experiment with the Chromatic Notes

Kurt Cobain is a risky guitarist that he incorporates chromatic notes that fell outside of the key of a song. For some, it is a great risk, and it is like breaking the rules of playing the guitar, yet he doesn’t care. What matters for him is that he can give a certain tone that he needs for that particular piece. He is very risky, and he uses his instincts. Mr. Mustache, for example, was played with four consecutive notes, climbing up and down. It is alternating between the major or a minor on the next strung, creating like a sense of tension or dissonance. But if you listen to it, it adds heaviness to the music all in all.

6) Get yourself a chorus pedal

This is something that you need, especially if you want to get your guitar skills to the next level. Chorus pedals provide that ashy sound just like what you can hear in the verses of Smells Like Teen Spirit. Cobain used his prized Electro-Harmonix Small Clone pedal during the verses of the song and also the entire way through Come As You Are. The sound came as doubling like two instruments were playing, and it gives additional weight on the song itself.

7) Try to Invest in Different Overdrives / Distortions

Image Source

Kurt Cobain used Boss DS1 and DS2 distortion pedals and also used ProCo Rat for the heaviness. Add distortion in how to play along with your instruments. Kurt Cobain is a risk-taker, and he plays with his instincts.

8) Always Use Correct Fingering

Never forget the basics. Little things matter. Even if you play the blues or rock n’ roll, use the right way of using your fingers. It is important that this basic part should not be disregarded. The practice should be with the right positioning of the fingers. This is basic, but this is very important. Pro or non-pro, this one should not be disregarded. Kurt Cobain may look very cool in what he did, risky and all, but he never distorted the basics.

9) Take it one day at the time

In as much as you are excited and very eager to get to the next level, slow down. Take it a day at the time. Mastery is the key to leveling up. Learn the technique. Start from playing slow. Do not get into fast songs right away. In this way, you are letting your fingers feel the grasp and the vibe while playing the guitar. It is important that you get the vibe first. It is important that you master your guitar first by playing a slow song. It is like getting to know each other. Master the song with your guitar. Play it over and over. Feel the beat.

Kurt Cobain did not become famous because he played the guitar so well in just a short period. He spent almost half of his life to become with who he is. His skills made him famous, and it took him years to get to where he is, and he never stopped learning.

10) Do not be afraid of Difficult Chords

Kurt Cobain is a risk-taker. Even in his music, you can see that the songs are cutting edge, and the chords can be difficult and challenging for most guitarists. Every guitarist’s dream is to play like Kurt Cobain, so if you want to be like him, never shy off from difficult chords. It may be complicated, but with constant practice, it will be possible for you to master the craft.

11) Practice

Image Source

Yes, practice makes perfect. Kurt Cobain is a legend, and just being able to mimic what he does is an honor. To be able to play his music is a great feeling, especially if you can play it, finally. Cobain’s music, like him, has been considered iconic. Every guitarist wants to play his songs. So to be able to master and get to play his songs, PRACTICE. Never stop practicing. Nothing beats like strumming your guitar and practicing a song or two in a day. Good technique comes with constant practice.

12) Listen to their song

If you have a song in mind that you want to play, listen to eat over and over until you master it. It is important for your ears to master the music, and it will be easier for you to play it because you are familiar with it.


If you want to play the guitar like a pro, do what these master guitarists do. Every guitarist has their own style. Kurt Cobain is very passionate about playing his guitar, and he treats it like he is passionately in love with it. Passion is what fuels his motivation. If there’s one thing that sets him apart from others is that Kurt Cobain is not just a legendary and expert guitarist, he is a teacher as well. He loves to teach his music. He shares his passion. He shares his vision. Kurt Cobain loves the idea that people were singing his songs and playing his music. He has been open about how he started his music career. In a number of his interviews, he has been open about sharing how he started.

One famous quote from Cobain is “Junk is always best… I use whatever I can find at junk shops”. Cobain said that to reach his famous status, he had to do with what he had before. He started with really a few things, and he made those things and used most of them. His talent for playing the guitars did not come so lightly on him. It was all about learning, practicing, hard work, risk, and the never-ending goal of reinventing yourself.

Kurt Cobain was a risk-taker in playing and creating his music. He believes in his instincts. He was never afraid to take the risk, and he was always willing to take the risk. For him, there is no harm in trying; you can always go back and refine it. That is the essence of music. You can take the risk of experimenting and try playing outside your comfort zone, but if it doesn’t work, you can always go back and reinvent. That is the magic of music, and that is what Kurt Cobain has taught us.

To be an expert or to just be able to master your craft as a guitar player, it is important to master the basics and practice the craft: practice and mastery. Famous musicians never stopped playing music. Some say that music is like the song they breathe, and their guitar is like their lover. If you want to play like a pro, act like a pro. Playing like Kurt Cobain may sound impossible, but it is possible. Listen to their music. Master your craft. Kurt Cobain may have left this generation for 21 years already, but his music as left its mark on the music industry and in the hearts and minds of all types of musicians, guitarists most especially.  And for you, aspiring superstar, keep on playing and never give up on your dreams. Practice each day and take the risk.

How to Find Easy Songs to Play with Guitar


How to Play A Piano Like Martha Argerich