Kurt Cobain's Unique Pedals and Settings

Updated on February 5, 2018

A Little Background...

In case you didn't know, Kurt Cobain was the singer/guitarist for Nirvana. Nirvana was formed in 1986 in the small town of Aberdeen, Washington by Kurt Cobain and the Bassist Krist Novoselic. After many drummers, they finally ended up with the final lineup of Kurt Cobain(guitar, lead vocals), Krist Novoselic(Bass, vocals), and Dave Grohl (drums vocals; now lead singer/guitarist of he Foo Fighters).

The Boss DS-1

Used from Nirvana's forming until 1992.

Used extensively on both the Bleach and Nevermind albums.



TONE: 11 to 1 O'clock

DISTORTION: Max (sometimes 1 to 2 O'clock in the studio)

(Kurt used the 1980s version of the DS-1, as it was discontinued and succeeded by the DS-2 in the early 90's. BOSS rereleased the DS-1, but without a chip crucial to the sound of the original DS-1. The DS-1's now are very different from the one that Kurt used)

The Boss DS-2

(My Personal Favorite)

Used from 1992 up through the MTV Unplugged In New York performance.

(This pedal is very similar in sound and functionality as the old DS-1, as it was made to be its successor. In fact, Turbo 1 was designed to sound like the DS-1)


All the settings for the DS-2 are the same as the DS-1

TURBO: Turbo 1

The Tech 21 Sansamp Classic

This is an amp modeler. Used in the In Utero tour.

(An amp modeler simulates the sound of a certain amp, or type of amp. There's a variety of amp and effects modeling systems and products, pedals and actual amps, cabinets and heads alike)

Settings (from left to right)

Three Up

Three Down

Two Up

(From there everything is maxed except high control, which is at 12 O'clock)

The Electro-Harmonix Small Clone Chorus

Used throughout Kurt's career. It was one of his favorites. You can clearly hear it on Teen Spirit and Come As You Are.


12 O'clock

(It was also rumored that Kurt used a Small Stone phaser pedal at some point, but I'm not sure about the truth in that)

The Electro-Harmonix PolyChorus

Used extensively on the In Utero tour. Kinda funny with this one, this pedal wasn't actually Kurt's, but he used it a lot anyway. It was lent to him as a backup for an Electro-Harmonix EchoFlanger that didn't always work since the PolyChorus produced basically the same sound as the EchoFlanger. Oh yeah, don't worry, the original owner eventually got it back. After Kurt wrote his settings on it and put velcro on it anyway.

Kurt used the EchoFlanger on the song Friendly Unit Radio Shifter from In Utero and also used it for the Heart Shaped Box solo when it was played live.

Polychorus Settings

I'll just put up his handwritten notes.

The Proco Rat

Kurt used this pedal on the recording of Territorial Pissings on Nevermind. As far as I know, that is the only time he used it. I couldn't find his settings for it either.

(Krist used this pedal for his distortion all the time when he wasn't using the DS-1, and Krist always used this pedal)

The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff

Kurt used this pedal subtly. It was used in conjunction with a Fender Bassman on the song Lithium from Nevermind. It was also used sporadically during the In Utero Tour.

The MXR Phase 100

Kurt rarely used this pedal. Ever. He used it only one B-side from the Nevermind era called Curmudgeon.

This pedal has only two controls: Intensity and Speed.

('Curmudgeon' was a B-side from 1992, and included in the 'With the Lights Out' Box set')

Now That You've Seen Kurt's Pedals, Why Not Check Out His Guitars?

Questions & Answers

    What Do You Think of Kurt's Sound? Does He Deserve His Title? - I sure think he does!

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image


        6 years ago

        I recently bought a DS-2 from eBay. It has quickly become my most essential pedal. It is perfectly out-of-control.

        Love it! Long live Kurt!

      • profile image


        6 years ago

        This is a great idea for a lens. Cobain created such a unique sound and because of that this was perfect for a lens.

      • EzLoanLookUp LM profile image

        EzLoanLookUp LM 

        7 years ago

        I was a big fan of Kurt's tone growing up, and although I've grown away from it, you can't deny he helped define an entire genre of guitar tone.

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        I've always wondered how he got that sound on Radio Friendly Unit Shifter.

      • HomeDecorKnight profile image


        7 years ago

        Good lens, I like this lens.

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        Thanks for this lens. Long live Cobain

      • JohnGcorner profile image


        7 years ago

        Wish he was still alive...

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        is good

      • SuperBrainwave LM profile image

        Paul Goodman 

        8 years ago from Florida, USA

        A fascinating read for electric guitar and Cobain enthusiasts alike! (I fit into both categories!)

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        Very cool lens!

      • adamfrench profile image


        8 years ago

        Impressive lens, thumbs up

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        The person I inspires me the most is Kurt kobain though he is dead.I dream of having a bad like Nirvana.Great lens....Loved going through it.No matter where Kurt Kobain is now but he is sipping Pennyroyal Tea for sure...

      • jaysiggs profile imageAUTHOR


        9 years ago

        @anonymous: k, thanks man.

      • profile image


        9 years ago

        The Big Muff was used on Lithium. The amp used on that song was a Fender Bassman. Pretty sure it was a Blackface.

      • sushilkin lm profile image

        sushilkin lm 

        9 years ago

        Thanks for sharing nice lens! PRAY FOR JAPAN Please

      • jaysiggs profile imageAUTHOR


        9 years ago

        @Schnieders LM: Thanks a lot. he did same for me, he's a really influential guitarist.

      • Schnieders LM profile image

        Schnieders LM 

        9 years ago

        Awesome lens, Kurt Cobain ignited my interest in the guitar and playing in a band, as well as turning me on to old school punk rock that influenced Nirvana.

        Great job bro, and great research on his settings.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, spinditty.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)