Video: How to Achieve Nirvana Guitar Tones with 5 Cheap Pedals

Whether it was his adherence to punk rock ethics or just a personal preference, Nirvana's Kurt Cobain often used very inexpensive pedals to achieve the thick, distorted sounds that supercharged his power-chord riffs. To celebrate what would have been Cobain's 51st birthday, we're going through five essential pedals to achieve the Nirvana frontman's sound, all of which can be found on Reverb for less than $80 USD.

As Joe demonstrates in the video above, Cobain used both Boss DS-1 and DS-2 distortion pedals, the Electro-Harmonix Small Clone chorus and Big Muff distortion, as well as a ProCo Rat.

Cobain used the DS-1 in his pre-Nevermind days, as well as during the recorded of that breakout album. Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic also used the ubiquitous orange stompbox with as part of his bass rig. As Joe demonstrates, the DS-1 provided Cobain with that sharp, serrated attack in songs like "In Bloom." Cobain later used the DS-2 Turbo Distortion for the In Utero tour.

While Cobain used modulation effects on riffs like "Come As You Are" and the solo in "Smells Like Teen Spirit," he switched between an Electro-Harmonix Echoflanger, an EHX Poly Chorus, and a Small Clone. For the gargantuan fuzz in loud choruses like that of "Lithium," Cobain often employed a Big Muff.

Another favorite dirt box of guitarists of that time was the ProCo Rat, though it may have been that Cobain only used it on "Territorial Pissings." Novoselic, on the other hand, often used the pedal to thicken up his bass tone.

Joe also shows off DOD's attempt to simulate the guitar sounds of Cobain and other early-'90s alt rock stylists with its Grunge pedal. While Cobain never played the pedal, he did keep it on his pedalboard as a sarcastic testament to the genre he helped spawn and popularize.

Be sure to watch the full video above, and click any of the links above to get one of Cobain's go-to pedals for yourself.

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