“He liked that sound and it featured on pretty much every song”: Nirvana producer Steve Albini on Kurt Cobain’s favourite guitar gear and setup

Among them are a Veleno guitar Albini had “brought from Chicago and re-strung lefty”.

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana

Image: Jeff Kravitz / Getty Images

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Producer and audio engineer Steve Albini has opened up about some of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s favourite guitar gear and setup in a new interview.

Albini, who worked on the grunge icons’ third album In Utero and collaborated with artists like Pixies, Breeders, Yourcodenameis:milo, Slint, PJ Harvey among others – tells Louder that he and Cobain “came of age in the same milieu, with a lot of the same influences and friends, so his approach and aesthetic were familiar to me as part of that scene.”

“I wasn’t that familiar with Nirvana before the sessions, but I can say that I came to appreciate them as a band and Kurt as an artist during the course of those sessions and I admire them tremendously,” says the producer.

Asked if he remembers the late musician’s setup, Albini says “[Cobain] used a couple of Univox Hi Flyer guitars  —  they were off-brand Mosrite copies, a Fender Mustang and a Veleno guitar I had brought from Chicago and re-strung lefty.”

“He had a couple of amps, a Randall Switchmaster and a Fender Quad Reverb that he mostly used. The Quad had a couple of broken tubes, so its overdrive sound was really raspy and unpredictable. He liked that sound and it featured on pretty much every song.”

Elsewhere in the chat, Albini also talks about the x-factor that made Nirvana and some of the bands he’s worked with so good, saying: “The thing all great bands have in common is that their music is animating to them. They don’t second-guess the things that thrill them, they just do it. They follow their nose in the direction they want to go.”

“Occasionally, other people will see the same thing in it that they do, and then they have an audience for it, but they aren’t doing it for them. You can always tell when a band is playing up to an audience because the music doesn’t sound like it matters that much. With great bands, you can tell they’d die if they didn’t get to do it.”


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