Kurt Cobain’s Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion Pedal

access_time First seen circa 1992

Kurt started using this pedal sometime after the release of ‘Nevermind’, switching from the older model – the DS-1.

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access_time 1989

Boss DS-1 Distortion

The Boss DS-1 could arguably be considered one of the key elements of Kurt’s sound since he used it as his main distortion pedal basically throughout Bleach and Nevermind era. At some point during the Nevermind tour, he did make a switch to a DS-2 model, but it’s hard to determine when exactly this happened due to the lack of photos. Also worth mentioning is that most of what is known […]

access_time 1990

EHX Small Clone

Kurt started using this pedal probably around early 1990, just before the band started working on ‘Nevermind’. It’s unknown to what the extent the pedal was actually used on the record, and how much of the chorus effect was added during the mixing process, but nonetheless, this pedal was used extensively during the ‘Nevermind’ tour and therefore played a key role in Kurt’s sound. Usage on Nevermind, Specific Tracks First […]

access_time 1990

EHX Big Muff Pi

According to Butch Vig, who produced ‘Nevermind’, Kurt used this pedal on ‘Lithium’. However, it is important to notice that whenever he played live, he would either use a Boss DS-1 or a DS-2 distortion pedal instead. We used an Electro- Harmonix Big Muff fuzz box through a Fender Bassman on ‘Lithium’ to get that thumpier, darker sound. [Nirvana: Super Fuzz Big Muff]

access_time 1993

DOD Grunge

Used most notably during the ‘Live and Loud’ gig in 1993. A couple of weeks after that, on December 29th, 1993, Kurt threw the pedal into the audience, and that was the end of it. Kurt most likely didn’t actually take the pedal seriously, and based on how short it was used – it was possibly used as a joke. Just recently, the pedal appeared on History channel show titled “Pawn Stars”, followed by a litter from Cobain’s guitar […]

access_time 1993

EHX Polychorus

Used during the ‘In Utero’ studio sessions and for the following tour, more precisely on Heart-Shaped Box (solo), Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, and Scentless Apprentice. The unit used in the studio actually belonged to Kurt’s guitar tech Earnie Bailey, who received his pedal back only after sending Kurt another one well into the In Utero tour. The second Polychorus is now owned by Eric Erlandson of Hole.

access_time 1993

EHX Echo Flanger

This pedal was used extensively during the ‘In Utero’ era, including the studio sessions for the album. According to Kurt’s guitar tech Ernie Bailey, depending on the day, Kurt would use either this or a PolyChorus for live performances. [Nirvana: Super Fuzz Big Muff] An important thing to note here is that the Echo Flanger and (vintage) PolyChorus are actually pretty much identical, as they share the same circuitry. Therefore, […]

access_time 1993

Tech 21 SansAmp Classic

Allegedly, Kurt used a Tech 21 SansAmp as his main distortion pedal in the In Utero era. However, it is important to note that at least during the live performances, he also had a Boss DS-2 on stage. This means that the SansAmp was likely used just on In Utero songs, while the Boss DS-2 was there for songs from Nevermind and Bleach.

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