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These are the eternal questions that everybody likes to ask, and the haters love to jump in: Was Kurt Cobain a good guitarist? Were his solos good? However, it misses the point.

Many people forget that Kurt Cobain, while not a virtuoso on the guitar, was an incredible musician who knew perfectly well that the secret to a great song wasn’t about technical shredding.

Kurt Cobain had a unique playing style, and that’s what matters. Above all, his guitar solos perfectly served the song and in that sense, he was the best!

Check out our selection of the Top 10 Kurt Cobain’s best guitar solos (Ranked) below:

10. “Sifting” (1988)

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“Sifting” is the 11th track on Nirvana’s debut album, Bleach. The song features Kurt Cobain’s signature raw vocals and gritty guitar riffs, reflecting the album’s grunge aesthetic. With its catchy yet dark lyrics, “Sifting” delves into themes of fear and self-doubt, showcasing the band’s early exploration of heavy, distorted soundscapes.

Another underrated song from an already super underrated album, “Sifting” marks one of the longest solos Kurt Cobain ever created.

Kurt’s solo starts at 3m30s.


9. “Stain” (1989)

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“Stain” is featured on their compilation album Incesticide, released in 1992, although it was recorded for Blew EP (1989). The track showcases Nirvana’s raw energy and grunge sound, with lyrics that reflect the band’s signature angst and frustration.

This song embodies grunge and punk influences, where Kurt Cobain’s guitar solo seamlessly complements the riff heard throughout the intense three-minute lightning-fast track.

Kurt’s solo starts at 1m14s.


8. “Blew” (1988)

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One more song on the list written for the 1989 EP with the same name, Blew. It also kicks off Nirvana’s debut album, Bleach.

Kurt Cobain wasn’t exactly crazy about guitar solos, but the one at the end of “Blew” stands out as one of his best. There are countless live versions of this song, from From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah to the Seattle Live & Loud albums.

Kurt’s solo starts at 1m46s.


7. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991)

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Surprise surprise! Here’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on one of our lists. Because when songs are brilliant, they remain untouched by the passage of time, forever timeless.

Kurt’s solo starts at 2m46s.


6. “Come as You Are” (1991)

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We already know that “Come as You Are” is another timeless classic, with its haunting melody and introspective lyrics inviting listeners to embrace themselves just as they are. But what about Kurt Cobain’s solo on this song?

For a long time, the overplaying of this song on the radio made us turn away from it until we heard the MTV Unplugged acoustic version. We were forever stunned, especially by the quality of Kurt Cobain’s guitar solo. The acoustic intimacy of this version lets the guitar solo take center stage.

Kurt’s solo starts at 2m10s.


5. “School” (1988)

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Ah, “School”! A fan favorite that perfectly captures teenage frustration with the school system. The song’s raw energy and themes of boredom, conformity, and rebellion have resonated with generations of listeners, making it a signature Nirvana track.

This song secured our top spot in the recent article we wrote about Kurt Cobain’s greatest guitar riffs, and we especially love the powerful version recorded live in 1992 in Live At Reading.

Kurt’s solo starts at 1m30s.


4. “About a Girl” (1989)

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“About a Girl” is a song from the band’s debut album, Bleach, and it is also the first track on the posthumous album MTV Unplugged in New York, from which it was released as a single in 1994.

According to the 1993 biography Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana, “About a Girl” was written by Kurt Cobain after he spent an entire afternoon listening to Meet the Beatles! repeatedly. The song was written about his then-girlfriend Tracy Marander.

The song truly comes alive in this 1991 live performance, especially during Kurt Cobain’s guitar solo.

Kurt’s solo starts at 1m19s.


3. “In Bloom” (1991)

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The guitar solo of Kurt Cobain in “In Bloom” is famous for its unconventional approach. It doesn’t follow the typical structure of a soaring, technical guitar solo, but instead uses dissonance and feedback to create a sense of angst and frustration.

The guitar solo recorded for the album Nevermind was never fully replicated in subsequent live performances, as Kurt Cobain always improvised and added variations.

Kurt’s solo starts at 3m15s.


2. “Serve the Servants” (1993)

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“Serve the Servants,” is the opening track on Nirvana’s final studio album In Utero (1993), and is a personal song written by Kurt Cobain. The lyrics grapple with Kurt Cobain’s childhood and media scrutiny of his relationship with his wife Courtney Love.

This live performance recorded in Italy shortly before his suicide in April 1994, best captures the so-called ‘anti-guitar’ solo, which seems like a part of the guitar solo recorded on “Sappy”.

Kurt’s solo starts at 2m02s.


1. “Sappy” (1993)

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The earliest known version of the song is a solo home demo recorded by Kurt Cobain in the late 1980s. After several transformations, this 1993 version best captures what we consider to be Kurt Cobain’s greatest guitar solo ever!

This version was eventually released on the Nirvana rarities box set, With the Lights Out, in November 2004, and you can hear it here.

Kurt’s solo starts at 1m39s.


Spotify Playlist of Kurt Cobain’s Best Guitar Solos Ever


 

Is just a guy who got tired of bothering his friends talking about music, and decided to create a blog to write about what he loves the most.
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