Kurt Cobain's $75,000 DS-1: The Most Expensive Pedal Ever Sold?

When looking at the most expensive guitars ever sold at auction, Nirvana's Kurt Cobain claims not just the top spot, but the top two. Now, another piece of gear from the grunge rock king has dethroned that of a classic rock legend.

In recent years, Cobain's $6.01 million MTV Unplugged Martin D-18E and his $4.55 million "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Competition Mustang both overtook what had been the previous top-earner, David Gilmour's $3.975 million Black Strat.

This weekend, at Julien's Auctions, one of Cobain's DS-1 Distortion pedals sold for a stunning $75,000. That's $4,600 more than even Jimi Hendrix's Octavia got when it went up for auction last year.

cobain's ds-1
Kurt Cobain's DS-1

While pedal auction sales are not as well-known as guitars, this seems to be a new record for the final sale price of a single effects box.

The Cobain DS-1 that sold this weekend was just one the Nirvana guitarist used throughout the band's career, notably on the group's September 3, 1991 Peel Session. Cobain customized this pedal by writing "NIRWAHNA" across its face and "Kurdt was here" on its side, while he affixed a The Frogs sticker to the bottom.

This DS-1 follows a 2020 sale of a different Cobain DS-1, which only (by comparison) fetched $9,000. At $75,000, the latest DS-1 sale beats out notably high pedal sales from recent memory: the aforementioned Jimi Hendrix Octavia that got $70,400, a Hendrix Fuzz Face that got $40,625, and Hendrix's (disputed) Woodstock Wah that got $33,000 back in 2017.

The latest DS-1 was also joined by one of Cobain's destroyed Mustangs, which he mockingly autographed for a friend after smashing it on stage. It sold for $486,400.

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