Kurt Cobain’s iconic 1959 Martin D-18E lost in daughter’s divorce settlement

(Image credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty)

Kurt Cobain’s iconic 1959 Martin D-18E, which he played throughout Nirvana’s legendary MTV Unplugged set, is no longer within the Cobain family, as daughter Frances Bean Cobain has left it to her ex, Isaiah Silva, in the couple’s divorce settlement.

The acoustic has long been a bone of contention, as Silva has claimed Frances gave him the guitar as a gift - something that was denied by Frances.

According to TMZ, Cobain left the guitar to Silva on the condition he quickly vacates the couple’s LA property.

Cobain’s Martin was equipped with a number of electro functions, as Nirvana tech Earnie Bailey told Total Guitar.

“The D-18E’s spruce top was weighted down by a trio of volume and tone potentiometers, a toggle switch and a Bartolini soundhole pickup mounted between a pair of hefty [stock] 1950s DeArmond Dynasonic pickups [these ended up being bypassed in favour of the retrofit Bartolini].”

Nonetheless, the guitar has acquired a mythical status, partly due to Cobain’s performance on MTV and partly because it’s rumoured to be the last guitar he played before he passed in 1994.

A number of Kurt’s instruments have changed hands over the years, with one of only two Cobain-designed Fender Jag-Stang prototypes currently up for auction.

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.

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