Attaining Nirvana III

Collecting signed musical instruments goes beyond the obvious guitars, harmonicas, and pianos. Signed drumheads, drumsticks, cymbals and other instrument related equipment. Guitars are by far the most popularly collected of the instruments. An important place to start when appraising guitars is to determine their intrinsic value. Most signed guitars have never been owned or played by the artists who sign them. Instruments that have been personally owned and played by an artist are the most desirable. The more recognizable and heavily used, the more value the guitar will have. Instruments used on stage and/or in recording sessions during the height of an artist's career have the most value, and as previously mentioned, photographs remain a key element. It is important to determine if the item was owned and used by the artist or just signed, as this greatly affects the value.

I was presented with the opportunity many years ago to purchase this Nirvana Zildjian 18” K Dark Crash Cymbal. It was signed by all 3 members of Nirvana with inscriptions.

Kurt Cobain signed Kurdt with the inscription “Hell-o” which is from the chorus of his mega hit “Smell Like Teen Spirit”

Chris Novoselic signed Chris with the inscription “CRASHING THE PARTY “

Dave Grohl signed David with the inscription from the lyric verse of the songThat’s Amore.

The autographs and inscription writings all looks authentic upon close inspection. As I am not familiar with Zildjian Cymbals, I have to establish how old this Zildjian 18” Dark Crash cymbal was and when it was made. From research, this Zildjian IAK (Intermediate American K) 18” Dark Crash cymbal was made between 1988-1993. I was able to contact a Zildjian Cymbals Expert Steve Blacks in New Zealand to confirm it.

On further research on the autographs. I was able to narrow down to when this cymbal was signed. About late 1991 during the release  of Nirvana Nevermind album.

I did ended up buying this Nirvana Signed Cymbal after all my research pointed to it being authentic.

My next project on this Nirvana Signed Cymbal was to establish exactly when and where was this cymbal signed and whether this was Dave Grohl used cymbal.

Dave Grohl used only Zildjian A Series Cymbals according to Nirvana Drum Technician Barrett Jones on Live Nirvana.

I did write to Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl trying to get some information on this signed cymbal but did not get any information on it. Krist Novoselic did signed the cymbal pictures I sent him. I did not hear back from Dave Grohl.

Over the years I was researching all the Nirvana photo archives that I can find on the internet to see whether there were any photo of Dave Grohl playing on a Zildjian K Dark Crash Cymbal. But could not find any photo of it. I also asked fellow Nirvana fans whether they have seen Dave Grohl playing Zildjian K Cymbal.

A breakthrough came when a Nirvana fan whom I known told me that Dave Grohl was playing a Zildjian K Cymbal on the Beehive Records Gig video that is on YouTube. Viola!!! Dave Grohl clearly was playing a Zildjian K Cymbal at the Beehive Records gig which was the listening party for the release of Nirvana “Nevermind” album on September 16, 1991. But I still have to establish that this signed cymbal was Dave Grohl's cymbal.
On June 28, 2015 60 Minutes aired an episode of Anderson Cooper sit down with Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters interview. Dave Grohl home drum setup has a Zildjian K Cymbal. It gave me some glimmer of hope !!!! ;)

Recently I contacted Barrett Jones who was Nirvana Drum Technician. He has a recording studio in Seattle now called Laundry Room Studio. He is a mixing engineer, producer & musician.  I sent him an email that I was researching to see whether this Nirvana signed cymbal was Dave Grohl used cymbal. I told him that I know from reading his article that Dave Grohl only uses Zildjian A Series Cymbals during Nirvana era.

Barrett initial reply was: “It’s possible that Dave had a K Dark Crash at that time, but I don’t recalled specifically. Is the cymbal broken? Where did you get it? Cymbals did not last long for him. After Nevermind came out Dave got endorsed by Zildjian and we went with all “A” series.

I replied to him that the cymbal was cracked in the middle of the cymbal. I told him that this cymbal was probably signed in late 1991 around the release of Nevermind album. I asked him whether he can ask Dave Grohl about it. 

Barrett reply: “I would say almost 100% that this was Dave’s. I just showed him the pic and he said it “must have been.” I think I remember this one as well.”

I wrote back telling Barrett that I always thought that this signed Zildjian 18” K Dark Crash Cymbal is the same one Dave Grohl played at the Beehive Records gig on 09/16/91. I said that it is a stretch, but I asked whether he remember where and when it was signed. I attached a few screenshot pictures of the Zildjian K cymbal taken from the Beehive Records video to him.

Barrett reply to me: Yep that’s the one at Beehive. 

I can humbly said that I now own a piece of music history here.  

Here is a photo of Dave Grohl playing the Cymbal at Beehive Records by Charles Peterson. 

Here is the provenance letter from Barrett Jones on the Nirvana Signed Zildjian 18” K Dark Crash Cymbal.

Here is an article from The Seattle Times October 19, 2021 about Dave Grohl & Barrett Jones.

Rock My Collection “Smells Like Nirvana” on AXS TV Oct 10, 2021 about my Nirvana Signed Cymbal.

The next step is for me to try and find out whether this cymbal was used in the recording of Nirvana "Nevermind" album. Will keep everyone update. :)

Views: 2071

Comment by JackGotLucky on October 25, 2019 at 1:23pm

That's a fantastic read. Very well done J. Seah. Congrats...

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Admin on October 28, 2019 at 3:45pm


I finally got a chance to read this. First of all, I've never seen a signed Nirvana or Cobain piece that I like more than this and would display better. It's AMAZING!!!

That's an exciting story—I'd be on the edge of my seat if I didn't already know that you were successful! The way you established the provenance, verified it, and documented it makes this a must-reading for everyone collecting rare signed—or unsigned—memorabilia.

Thanks for telling your story. I'm going to post it on our FB page.

Comment by Juha Kakkuri on November 5, 2019 at 11:09am

Congratulations! Great strory and very interesting!

Comment by RadioWitch on November 25, 2020 at 1:55pm

Outstanding efforts on your part, and what an incredible piece! Thanks for this post. 

Comment by Anthony Dew on January 21, 2021 at 8:24pm

If your a true Nirvana fan just looking for an autograph for your collection, this is the man to see, I don't care what the "Professional" authentication, especially at PSA/JSA/Beckett say.  Thanks for your help and hard work!

Comment by Anthony Dew on January 22, 2021 at 4:02am

You can simply ask, everything he has shown me looks good IMO, he has shared with me where he obtained a lot of his items, I'm sure he will be happy to do the same for you.  All I'm saying is if your looking for Nirvana, especially Kurt, with so much fake stuff out there it's hard to get any reputable authenticator to back it with a COA, I think his opinion is defiantly worth seeking out and taking into serious consideration in addition to doing your homework and getting as many as opinions as possible to help you make the best decision possible as a collector or seller.  It's hard getting any reputable authenticator/service to back a Nirvana item with a COA, it's not an exact science, let alone all of them.  If a PSA or JSA slab is all you need to make you happy to each his own.

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Admin on January 22, 2021 at 9:18am


Please don't degrade members. Telling Anthony he's naive is degrading.

Same regarding J.Seah. I have never heard of or seen any authenticity issues with his Nirvanas like you claim, and every one I've seen has been authenticated by the most respected TPAs. I've also seen many times how hard he works to make sure something is real before he buys it.

Respectfully discussing opinions is a welcome activity here. Taking shots is not.

Comment by J.Seah on September 16, 2021 at 12:52pm

30 years ago today Nirvana played at the Beehive Records in Seattle at their Listening Party for their album " Nevermind" launch. 


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