Solo #2 Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit
2:52 – 3:33

Here is Kurt Cobain’s left-handed Lake Placid Blue Competition Mustang, which he famously played in the Smells Like Teen Spirit music video. This is not his most well-known guitar, which is the baby blue Jag-Stang that he designed for Fender, but this one is more iconically related to this song.

For each solo, I will post a link to the full song, so that you can hear the solo in its full context. Click this link, then come back here and read the post while it plays in the background.

I was a little late to the party with Nirvana. I didn’t listen to much radio back then or watch a lot of MTV and when Nevermind came out, I was oblivious to it for a few months. Then one night at our band practice, our backup singer and rhythm guitarist, Donna, started playing the main riff for Smells Like Teen Spirit on her Strat. It was a very compelling riff, and I asked her what it was she was playing. She told me it was this new band called Nirvana.  I went out and bought the CD the next day.

I was blown away. Smells Like Teen Spirit is a near-perfect rock anthem. It has amazing pacing, incredible dynamic range and the production is flawless. It was the kind of song that you wanted to turn up as loud as it could go in the car and just roll, with your head practically banging on the steering wheel. I was an instant Nirvana fan.

The solo is considered pretty easy, and technically it is, but there is a lot of nuance to the sound and the playing style that will be a challenge to capture. He plays “behind the beat” for most of the solo, which most people who cover it on YouTube don’t seem to be able to replicate. He also adds vibrato to nearly every note. Nonetheless, because this solo is not as challenging, and I’m betting this is a fun song to play, I’m going to go ahead and learn the whole thing.

Getting past the first solo was a huge step for me, and I hope to build some momentum and get this one knocked out quickly. Now to work.


Instructional Video —

Tabs —

Backing Track —


Nirvana playing Smells Like Teen Spirit on Britain’s Channel 4 —

Kurt Cobain smashing a guitar at a concert —