The super rare Fender amp that Kurt Cobain used on In Utero

Fender Quad Reverb amp
(Image credit: Aaron Rash / YouTube)

Nirvana guitar tech Earnie Bailey is the man responsible for the Fender tube amp Kurt Cobain used on Nirvana's In Utero. As fan and Nirvana gear enthusiast Aaron Rash explains in his latest video on the album's gear, the Quad Reverb was a rare find – Fender had only made them between 1972 and '76. The secondhand find in Tacoma would become an essential element of the tones on Nirvana's third studio album.

Cobain had reportedly been running two Fender Fender Super Six two-channel 100-Watt 6x10 combos previously. The Quad still wasn't a done deal for the album, and arrived at Pachyderm studios in Cannnon Falls, Minnesota alongside a number of other amps that were in contention. In Utero technician Bob Weston recalled to Aaron that Cobain spent a day at the studio trying amps out before settling on the Quad Reverb. And it had a distinct feature in its favour. 

As Aaron's diligent research reveals, most Quad Reverbs had the Oxford speakers that were often a go-to for Fender at the time, but a later period run of Quad amps were installed with Utah speakers. A rare amp's super rare 1974 iteration.

Aaron's tone quest lead him to find a Utah speaker for $50 to install in his own Quad Reverb. "The moment I mic'd it sounded exactly like In Utero and that's when I knew Kurt used a Utah Quad Reverb to record In Utero."

The problem was Aaron only had one Utah speaker, his other Quad amps were fitted with the Oxford-made model. The search continued… and eventually Facebook lead him to the Holy Grail.

Check out the full video with Aaron's demonstrations of how close he gets and why the speakers matter so much for the In Utero tone above. It's a valuable illustration of how overlooked speakers often are in shaping our guitar tones. 

The best news for Nirvana fans is Rash is planning to capture the Quad with a Sansamp pedal in a studio to create an IR pack others can download to use. 

Check out Aaron Rash's YouTube channel for more excellent videos. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.