John Frusciante’s Guitars and Gear
John Anthony Frusciante was born on March 5th, 1970. He is best known as the guitarist of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, with whom he had been for a number of years and recorded five studio albums from 1988 until 1992 and again from 1998 until 2009. Frusciante also has an active solo career, having released eleven albums under his own name, two with Josh Klinghoffer and Joe Lally as Ataxia, and was a studio member of The Mars Volta, as performing guitarist and occasional live member from 2002-2008.
As far as his gear goes – John’s relied heavily on his 1962 Fender Stratocaster on the last three albums he did with Peppers. He also used a 1955 maple necked Stratocaster extensively on the “Californication” album, and couple of different pre-CBS Strats on “Stadium Arcadium”. Two of his main guitars are equipped with Seymour Duncan SSL-1 pickups, and he mostly relies on his vintage Marshall Major 200W amp when it come to the sound, although he did use a Fender Showman for some clean stuff previously.
John Frusciante’s Electric Guitars: link here
1986/87 Kramer Pacer Custom II link here
|This was the only guitar that John had with him when he first joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in 1988. He only used it for couple of gigs, including his first one with the Peppers in 1988 in Los Angeles.
This particular guitar is somewhat of a mystery. What we do know is that the guitar had 24 fret maple neck with dot inlays, long banana headstock, strat-style body with sharper horns, and a HSS pickup configuration. It also featured a custom paint job, perhaps something inspired by Eddie Van Halen who John looked up to in the early days.
As far as the exact model, the closest possibility seems to be the Kramer Pacer Custom II. As one of our readers pointed out, this seems to be the only model with HSS config where the humbucker isn’t slanted like for instance on the Striker model, which features the same pickup layout.
What doesn’t fit with the usual configuration of Pacer Custom II model is the 24 fret maple neck featuring long banana headstock. By 1986/87 when the model was first introduced, Kramer already started using pointy headstocks, so John’s guitar must have been one of a kind. Even the few of the Pacers that featured maple necks all came with pointy headstocks finished in black, so again quite unusual seeing that particular setup on John’s guitar.
As far as to what happened to the guitar post 1988, we were able to spot the guitar in the 1993 short documentary recorded at John’s place. This means that John kept the guitar for at least 5 years, even though by then he switched to playing Fender Stratocasters almost exclusively.
If you happen to know anything more about this guitar, even the slightest bit of information, be sure to message us using the form at the end of this article or email me directly at. To help you start – here’s a video of John playing this guitar in 1988 – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Punk Rock Classic (Los Angeles 1988), and a photo album on imgur showing screencaps from couple of different videos.
Ibanez RG760 link here
|John used couple of Ibanez guitars when he first joined Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1988. This is the same guitar featured on most of the photos that come up when you Google “John Frusciane Ibanez” – featuring ton of stickers and hand-writings.
There are indication of another white Ibanez with a HSH setup (humbucker in the neck position when compared to single-coil on his main Ibanez), which was quite possibly used just as a backup, and a third one seen briefly during a 1993 short documentary ‘Stuff’.
John used his main Ibanez up towards early 1989, and it is highly possible that he used it some of the the stuff on “Mother’s Milk” – although by that time he was gravitating towards Stratocasters.
1968 Fender Stratocaster link here
|This was Frusciante’s main Stratocaster from the time he joined the band up until the release of Mother’s Milk album. The guitar can be seen during a gig in Amsterdam played in late 1989 – Red Hot Chili Peppers Dam Square, Amsterdam 1989, and in the music video for the song “Knock Me Down”.
John’s favorite 1968 Stratocaster was stolen sometime in early 1990, as Frusciante reported in an interview with Guitar Player magazine published in April 1990. However, at Pinkpop Festival played in June he still appears to be playing the very same guitar.
The truth is that John had more than a few of these CBS sunburst Stratocasters with large headstocks, and he continued using them throughout 1990, and for the couple of gigs in early 1991 before the band took a break to work on Blood Sugar Sex Magik.
1970s Les Paul Custom link here
|Acquired sometime prior to Mother’s Milk and used to record ‘Higher Ground’ – and possibly some others.
The guitar appears to have wide body binding, which is typical to the models made post 1975 – so it was almost certainly not a highly priced vintage model from the 50s.
1966 Fender Jaguar link here
|John used this guitar for overdubs on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but it is undeniably best known for it’s appearance on ‘Under the Bridge’ video. John purchased it probably before he even joined the Chili Peppers. It was one of his favorite guitars at the time – the one he’d use for practicing and fooling around in his room.
John’s Jaguar is finished in what’s known as ‘seafoam green’, and features two single-coil pickups, rosewood neck with white binding and dot inlays, and a floating tremolo. The guitar has a good amount of paint cracks on it, and the neck itself had a couple of dead spots – so perhaps that’s one of the reasons John never really played this guitar live.
The guitar is now owned by Hard Rock Cafe, and it has John’s signature and words “Under The Bridge” written on it. They however don’t explains how they got hold of the guitar – whether it was from John himself, or from someone else. If John gave them the guitar himself, that means that this is the only guitar that John cared enough about not to sell it during his junkie years – and it obviously meant a lot for him. All the other guitar that John had in the early 90s were either sold, or they were burnt in a fire that caught John’s house in mid 90s.
1960s Fender Stratocaster link here
|For the recording of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, John switched from late 60s CBS to older models from the early 60s. His main guitar from the bunch was a 1962 or 1963 sunburst model which he used extensively on the record and on the following tour.
Although John reported in an interview with Guitar Player that his main guitar on the album was a ’58 Stratocaster , this is highly unlikely. For that to be true, it would require of the guitar to have a maple neck, and since we have a pretty good insight into what guitars he used on the album (see documentary ‘Funky Monks’), none of the guitars that John had with him at the time had a maple neck.
That means that John intentionally or unintentionally gave wrong information in that interview, and the guitar that was his favorite at the time was actually an early 60s Stratocaster with a rosewood fretboard and small headstock.
That aside, it is also important to note that this is not the same guitar that John used in the late 90s and early 2000s – the one which most of the fans know as his main. This particular guitar was used from mid 1991 to mid 1992 when John left the band. It was seen again briefly in the 1993 short documentary Stuff taken at John’s place, and it was then most likely lost in a fire that caught that same house couple of months later, or he simply sold it for money.
Fender Stratocaster Fretless link here
|John used this guitar briefly on BSSM to record the solo on “Mellowship Slinky in B Major”.
He bought this guitar just prior to recording the album, and it apparently had really bad fretts. He took the guitar to a local guitar shop to replace them with new ones, but was unsatisfied with the result and asked for a complete removal of frets.
The guitar was finished in sunburst and featured rosewood neck. John referred to it as a ’57 Stratocaster in an interview, but that’s most likely not the case since it doesn’t have a maple neck. It was most likely a reissue, or an original 60s model.
1960s Fender Jaguar link here
|This guitar was seen on one of the photos taken at John’s place circa 1993. Although somewhat similar, this is almost certainly not the same guitar John used in ‘Under the Bridge’ video. This guitar seems to have blue finish (lake placid blue to be exact) and no neck binding when compared to John’s other Jaguar, plus it had some kind of a sticker just below the bridge.
As said, this guitar was only seen on one photo taken at the time John wasn’t a part of Red Hot Chili Peppers anymore, so very little is known about it. It may have been sold or lost in a fire that was mentioned couple of times already.
1962 Fender Jaguar link here
|According to an interview John gave to Vintage Guitar magazine, this guitar is the only guitar he had with him when he re-joined the Peppers.
He used this guitar in late 90s and early 2000s for warming up before shows, and in his own time to come up with ideas for the new songs. He also used it live mostly just in 1999 for the song “Around the World”.
John appeared with this guitar on the cover of September 1999 issue of Guitar One magazine, and in the interview for that same magazine he notes that he used a 1966 Fender Jaguar to record “Around the World”, and some parts of “This Velvet Glove”. Important thing to say about this is that that wasn’t his 1962 Jaguar, but a different guitar borrowed from the band’s recording engineer, Jim Scott.
1962 Fender Stratocaster link here
|This guitar was a gift from Anthony Kiedis when John joined the band again in 1998. Apparently at that time he didn’t own any decent quality guitars except for an old Fender Jaguar, so this one quickly became his favorite and the one he has a special connection with.
John’s Stratocaster is a 1962 model, featuring three tone sunburst finish, slab rosewood fretboard with 7.25 inch radius, and three single coil pickups. Although the guitar had the original pickups for first couple of years, John had them replaced with Seymour Duncan SSL-1s after trying them out on his 1955 Stratocaster. They are set at pretty low height, which might contribute to the warm tone that John’s known for.
The guitar is easily recognizable by it’s wear. We haven’t been able to find any pictures of the guitar in it’s original state, but looking at the pictures from early 2000’s and at the more recent ones, the wear seems to be increasing at a pretty high rate – which is a good sign that John uses this guitar heavily not only on concerts, but also in his own time.
You can see John’s 1962 Fender Stratocaster on almost all off the live performances, and he usually uses this guitar for most of the set – except for those couple songs which require of him to use a different instrument (Californication, Zephyr Song to name a few). It was used less often on “Californication” – where John used his ’55 Stratocaster more, but the next album “By the Way” was recorded mostly just using this guitar. Stadium Arcadium was also recorded mostly using this guitar, although John used couple of different guitars on that one.
1955 Fender Stratocaster link here
|From the time he came back to the band up until the release of the album “Californication” in 1999, John acquired a good amount of new guitars. Among them was a 1955 Fender Stratocaster – the only maple necked guitar John would ever use.
The guitar is finished in two-tone sunburst, and as said – features one-piece maple neck. When John bought the guitar sometime in 1998/1999 the pickups were already replaced with the Seymour Duncan SSL-1s – same ones John would later install in his main 1962 Stratocaster.
It’s been reported a few times that this is John’s second favorite guitar, and he used it extensively on Californication – possibly more than his ’62 Strat. Since then it’s usually been used on slower and more mellow songs – a good example is “Zephyr Song” from By the Way album released in 2002.
Here’s an interesting interview with John talking a bit about recording Dani California. It features his 1955 Strat.
To avoid any misunderstandings, for many years John thought that this guitar was actually a 1957 Strat, but it was proven to be a 1955. He might also be referring to his Shure SM57 microphones when talking about the equipment used on Dani California.
1963-65 Fender Telecaster link here
|Bought sometime prior to Californication, and used on a few songs from that album – specifically “Easily” and “Scar Tissue”. It was used a lot more on the band’s 2002 album “By the Way”, when John used this exact guitar to record one of their bigger hits, “Can’t Stop”.
John’s Telecaster features three-tone sunburst finish, rosewood fingerboard, white body binding, and white pickguard with a letter “F” embedded into it – origin of which we’re not familiar with so if you know anything please contact us using the form below this article.
This guitar was made sometime in the 60s, during the pre-CBS period. In some older interview John refers to the guitar as a ’65 Telecaster, although more recently almost every source has it listed as a ’63.
Important thing to note is that John had another almost identical Telecaster from 1967 as a backup during By The Way tour, which he ended up giving to Josh Klinghoffer after he joined Peppers.
1955 Gretsch White Falcon link here
|John used this guitar on “Otherside”, “Californication”, and for a few sections on “This Velvet Glove”. He usually played the guitar through a Fender Showman and a Marshall 4×12 Cabinet, although he did switch to a 1961 Gibson SG Custom plugged into a Marshall JCM800 for solo and outro on the “Otherside”.
John found this guitar through Vincent Gallo, and the inspiration for it supposedly comes from Matthew Ashman who played one in his new wave band “BowWowWow”, and also from Malcolm Young who played a similar model with AC/DC.
John strung this guitar with .012 strings, which are noticeably heavier from the usual set of .010s he plays on most of his guitars.
As said, it was mostly used just on Californication album – but John picked it up again on By the Way on the song “Tear”. On Stadium Arcadium album, John said that he didn’t even pick the guitar out of it’s case.
1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom link here
|John used this guitar on Californication album when he needed heavier humbucker sound. It can be heard on the solo and outro section of “Otherside”.
The guitar featured cherry red finish, three PAF pickups, and a white pickguard. It was made in 1961, so correct naming for it would be “Les Paul”, since and the model “SG”, which stood for ‘Solid Guitar’, was officially introduced only in 1963.
1956 Gibson ES-175D link here
|Used on the solo for “Get on Top”, and on some parts of “Porcelain”.
John found this guitar through Vincent Gallo sometime in 1999. It features dark sunburst finish, two PAF pickups, and a full depth hollow body making it a semi-acoustic guitar. John had .013 strings on this guitar, which are heavier even than the ones he’d use on his Gretsch.
1961 Fender Stratocaster (olympic white) link here
|John bought this guitar sometime in 2000 and started using it on tours as a backup for his main 1962 Stratocaster (see Rock in Rio 2001). It was used for a relatively brief period of time, as John apparently didn’t like it that much.
Note: this is not the same white Strat that John used during Stadium Arcadium tour.
1966 Fender Mustang link here
|John bought this guitar sometime in early 2000s to use for practicing at his house while the rest of his gear was kept in storage to be used on tours. He used the guitar on some of his solo stuff, but as said it was mostly just a guitar to have on hands whenever he felt like playing.
John’s Fender Mustang was made in 1966, and it featured dakota red finish, two single coil pickups, rosewood fingerboard, and Fender Dynamic Vibrato tailpiece. In it’s essence, this model was Fender’s take on a more affordable electric guitar – and it took almost 30 years for it to became popular, mainly through Kurt Cobain who was known for playing couple of Mustangs.
1961 Fender Stratocaster link here
|This is one of the guitars John bought just prior to Stadium Arcadium, most likely to have something on hands available as a backup for his 1962 Stratocaster.
This Stratocaster was made in 1961, and features fiesta red finish and a rosewood fretboard. The pickups in it are most likely original, although there’s a possibility that John replaced them with Seymour Duncan SSL-1s like in his two main Strats.
John used this guitar quite a lot during the Stadium Arcadium tour, although he did not use it on the record itself.
1963 Fender Stratocaster link here
|Another guitar bought sometime prior to Stadium Arcadium. John supposedly used it a lot during the rehearsals, and even during the recording session on couple of songs. It was also seen occasionally during the tour, sometime played by Josh Klinghoffer in the background.
The guitar was made in 1963, and it features olympic white finish and a rosewood fingerboard. It’s also John’s only Strat that has a floating tremolo bridge – meaning that the tremolo’s rear edge is raised up off the body allowing John to also lower the pitch of a played note.
1969 Gibson Les Paul Custom link here
|John acquired this guitar sometime prior to Stadium Arcadium, and used it on that album on the song “Readymade”, and some overdubs on “Make You Feel Better”. He also picked it up occasionally live to play “Fortune Faded” – a song which was originally recorded on his ’61 SG/Les Paul Custom.|
1961 Rickenbacker 365 Deluxe link here
|Deluxe version of the 360 model, with added tremolo and white binding on the body’s edge. We’ve never seen John actually playing this guitar, except in the “Dani California” video.
The guitar was supposedly previously owned by James Burton.
Gibson ES-335 link here
|One of the guitars John doesn’t use much, and he bought it mainly because Stevie Howe played one (same case with his ES-175). John noted that he feels like a totally different person playing this guitar, and that it doesn’t fit his particular style of playing.|
Yamaha SBG link here
|On one of the most recent photos of John you can see him holding a Yamaha SG guitar. He used it on his latest album, Letur-Lefr , not strictly for recording, but rather for developing initial ideas about the melody which he would later record on a Roland MC-202.|
John Frusciante’s Acoustic Guitars: link here
1930s Martin 0-15 link here
|John borrowed this Martin guitar from Anthony when they started working on Californication, and eventually it sort of just became his guitar. He used it on nearly all of the acoustic stuff he did with the Peppers and on his solo albums.
During one of John’s solo gigs a string broke on his Martin, and he had a backup 0-15 ready for occasions like these. This guitar seemed to have some sort of a pickup built into it – perhaps a Piezo Transducer.
Martin D-28 link here
|John played this Martin in an interview for Dutch television in September 1991, and it was seen during studio sessions of BSSM, mostly just on photos taken at John’s bedroom.|
|John used Taylor guitars extensively on “By the Way” album, although all the guitars that were used on the album were rented and John said that he didn’t own one at the time. The idea of using Taylors instead of John’s Martin 0-15 acoustic supposedly came from Rick Rubin.
|Basically a twelve-string version of the D-28. Seen in the “Past Recedes” music video which was filmed at John’s house. and the same model was seen during BSSM studio sessions.|
John Frusciante’s Guitar Amps: link here
– Mesa Boogie
Used on Mother’s Milk. Model unknown.
– Fender H.O.T
Small practice combo amp used for some overdubs on BSSM.
– Marshall 60w Bass Head
Used on BSSM paired with a regular Marshall guitar top, presumably a 1959 reissue.
– 1965 Marshall Head JTM45
Used on Californication. John sometimes talks about using a JTM45, then at other times he mentioned using a 100W Marshall – which would probably be something along the lines of a 1959 Plexi. He used this amp mainly in the studio, paired with a Marshall Bass head.
– Marshall Major Bass 200W Model 1978
Used on Californication recording sessions paired with an old 1965 Marshall JTM45 (same principle as on BSSM). He continued using this amp for By the Way and Stadium Arcadium as his main amp both on stage and in the studio paired with a Marshall Silver Jubilee 25/55.
– Fender Silverface Showman
Used on Scar Tissue and some other songs where Marshall wasn’t clean enough. He took the amp on the Calfiornication tour, but very quickly put it aside and started using Marshalls exclusively on stage.
– Marshall JCM800
Used on same part on Californication album when he needed heavier distortion, like some parts of “Otherside” on which he played a 1961 SG Custom through this amp.
– 1950s Fender Spring Reverb
Used briefly during By the Way era.
– Marshall Silver Jubilee 25/55 100W
Used on stage and in the studio since the first Californication tour. His main amp next to the Marshall Major 200W.
John Frusciante’s Guitar Effects: link here
Number of pedals on John’s pedalboard increased significantly with each new album. Around the time of BSSM, his pedalboard was relatively simple, and even for the Californication he kept only few pedals on the board. But with the release of By the Way, John kept adding more and more effects to his signal chain, that eventually he ended up with this huge two-piece pedalboard that you’ve most likely seen on some photos taken at more recent gigs.
So with that in mind, please note that some pedals that were mentioned in the Californication section were also used on By the Way and Stadium Arcadium, although we didn’t mentioned them there.
Blood Sugar Sex Magik:
– Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble – Heard on “Under the Bridge” outro. Same model was used on all following albums.
– DOD FX65 Stereo Chorus – Used to split the signal between guitar head and a bass head during BSSM period.
– Electro-Harmonix Big Muff
– Ibanez WH-10 – John refuses to use any other wah pedal but this one.
– MXR Phase 100 – Can be heard at the end of Parallel Universe, and some other songs from the 1999 album. John apparently borrowed this pedal from someone else for the studio sessions, but bought a Phase 90 to use on the following tour.
– Electro-Harmonix Micro Synth – Heard on “Savior”
– Electro-Harmonix 16 Second Digital Delay – Heard on “Savior”
– Boss FZ-3 Fuzz Box – Used for light distortion, like the last solo on “Scar Tissue”.
– Boss DS-1 Turbo Distortion
By The Way:
– Line 6 POD – A digital guitar amplifier modeler. John used this on “By the Way” to get a more “cheap” guitar sound for some parts of the songs.
– DigiTech PDS-1002 Delay – Can be heard on “Don’t Forget Me”
– Boss FV-50 Volume Pedal – Was part of his setup during the recording of By The Way album, used most likely for the song “Venice Queen”. While playing live he almost never used one, but controlled the volume with the knob on his guitar.
– Line 6 DL4 Stompbox Delay Modeler
– Line 6 FM4 Filter Modeler
– Vex Fuzz Factory – Also used on his solo albums; can be heard on the song “Water”.|
– MXR Micro Amp
– Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb
– Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Electric Mistress Flanger Pedal
– Electro-Harmonix POG – Used on Snow (Hey, Oh) outro.
– Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi
– Electro-Harmonix English Muff’n – Used extensively on the album, mostly just for solos.
– Dunlop DB-02 Dime Custom CryBaby – John used this Wah on couple of tracks, although we haven’t been able to find out which precisely.
– EMT 205 Digital Reverb – Used in the studio on the song Stadium Arcadium and Slow Cheetah.
– Moog MF-101 Low-Pass Filter – John has three of these with him on stage. He uses them to more easily replicate some of the sound he came up with in the studio – like the verse on “Dani California” and “Death of a Martian”.
– Moog Music MF102 Moogerfooger Ring Modulator
– Moog Music MF103 Moogerfooger Twelve Stage Phaser
– Moog MF-105 MuRF
– Moog MF-105B Bass MuRF
– Moog CP-51 Control Processor
– Moog Music EP2 Expression Pedal
John Frusciante’s Guitar Strings: link here
John uses D’Addario EXL110s (10-46) exclusively on all of his Strats.
John Frusciante’s Guitar Picks: link here
Most recently John has been using orange Dunlop Tortex .60mm, although in the BSSM days he prefered .88mm greens.