1996 Fender Jag-Stang, as made famous by Kurt Cobain
Not only as made famous by, but also as designed by Kurt Cobain, shortly before his untimely death - the Fender Jaguar/Mustang hybrid that became an icon across the world.
The story behind this guitar is wonderfully documented on the Fender web-site (see Sources & Links). Proposed by Kurt Cobain, using cut-up polaroid pictures of a Fender Jaguar and a Fender Mustang, annotated, prototyped, adapted, and then sent out on the road with Kurt, in Sonic Blue finish, in the year of his death. He played it live, alternating it with his more frequently played Sonic Blue Mustang. After his death, Courtney Love gave the Sonic Blue Jag-Stang prototype to Peter Buck, who plays it In the video for 1994 single “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”. All this before the guitar went into two runs of commercial production, since when it has continued to hold the adoration of a devoted set of guitarists and fans.
See & Hear It In Action
Nirvana Live, Tallahassee, Florida (1993): On the In Utero tour, in December 1993, Kurt starting with the Jag-Stang before moving to his Mustang.
What's The Frequency, Kenneth?: R.E.M.'s official video, with Peter Buck playing Kurt Cobain's prototype Jag-Stang right-handed.
Number of Frets
Fender Vintage Style
Fender Vintage Style Single Coil & Fender Special Design Humbucker
Fender Floating Tremelo
The guitar didn't go into full production until after Kurt's death, with a 4-year run to 1999, and a 2003 - 2005 run around the 10th anniversary of his death.
As with the prototypes, it was produced in Sonic Blue and Fiesta Red finishes. Kurt never got to play the prototype in Fiesta Red. Fender were just packaging the guitar up to send to him when the news of his death came through.
It's not simply a top-half Mustang and bottom-half Jaguar. Kurt designed the guitar with a sharper top horn, like a Mustang, and an extended lower bout, like a Jaguar. The prototype was built with a Fender Texas Special Single-Coil pick-up in the neck position and a DiMarzio H-3 humbucker in the bridge position. Production models reverted to the more standard "Vintage Style" and "Special Design" pick-ups.
The single-coil neck pick-up comes with fixed staggered pole pieces, set to accentuate the mid-lower range of the guitar (to the extent that the B-string pole sits almost flat against the pick-up casing).
This particular guitar comes from the first full year of production, also the 50th anniversary of Fender, with a small commemorative badge on the back of the headstock.
The thin neck is said to give this more of a rhythm-player's feel and ease of playing, which considering Kurt's style, makes this the perfect guitar to recreate that unique Nirvana sound.
Sources & Links
The Story Behind The Jag-Stang: Jeff Owens, of Fender, tells the story of how this guitar was originated and prototyped with Kurt Cobain, and then released as a production model following his death.
Jag-Stang Tech Spec: Not only that, but jag-stang.com, a fabulous community for Jag-Stang devotees
Original Fiesta Red Jag-Stang Prototype Up For Auction: Showing quite how much value is attached to the original prototypes, and also the original design drawings provided by Kurt.