Kurt Cobain’s Boss DS-1 sells for $75,000 – is this the most expensive pedal sold at auction?

Kurt Cobain's Boss DS-1
(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

Earlier this week, we learned that Cobain’s stage-smashed Mustang fetched nearly $500,000 at a November 13 auction. Now it has emerged that in the same sale a battered Boss DS-1 stompbox belonging to the Nirvana frontman (opens in new tab) fetched an eye-watering sum of $75,000.

The remarkable figure is higher than that of Jimi Hendrix’s Roger Mayer-built Octavia, which was used on his iconic Band of Gypsys album and sold for $70,400 in December 2020. Cobain’s stompbox could well have set a new record for a guitar pedal sold at auction.

The 1980s distortion pedal, one of history’s best-selling effects units, was clearly heavily used by the guitarist, but we suspect the price may largely be down to the characterful decoration. 

On the bottom of the pedal is a sticker reading, “It's only right and natural/ The Frogs”, while Cobain scrawled marker pen on the surfaces: the side reads “Kurdt was here”, while the top panel foot pedal is inscribed with the word “Nirwahna”.

This adds great value, as does the fact that it comes with a letter of authenticity confirming its use in a session for legendary BBC DJ John Peel on September 3, 1991 – approximately three weeks before Nevermind landed and changed the band’s fortunes forever.

Elsewhere in the same auction, an orange Dunlop Tortex pick belonging to Cobain (opens in new tab) and used in the same Peel session fetched a huge $5,760.

Kurt Cobain's Dunlop Tortex guitar pick

(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

Another of Cobain’s DS-1 pedals sold for $9,000 just two years ago. This recent sale marks yet another major rise in the value of the Nirvana leader’s gear, which for all its workaday charm, seems to obtain record-breaking prices at auction – and with increasing regularity.

In May, Cobain’s Smells Like Teen Spirit Mustang fetched $4.5 million, while the Martin D-18E used in Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance was sold for $6,010,00 in 2020 – making it the world’s most expensive guitar.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.