John Frusciante’s Guitars and Gear
John Anthony Frusciante was born on March 5, 1970 in Queens, New York. He was raised as a single child in a family of musicians – his father John Sr. was a pianist, and his mother Gail was a singer, who eventually gave up on her career to stay home with John.
John started teaching himself how to play a guitar around the age of nine. At first he did not really know what he was doing, and played every chord with a single-finger (the guitar was tuned so that chords actually sounded right). He eventually progresses and started studying and learning riffs from Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour and Frank Zappa.
He first became acquainted with Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1984 when his guitar instructor was auditioning as a guitarist for the band. By then John was already focused on the idea of becoming a rock-star guitarist, and he decided to drop out of school and move to LA in order to achieve his goal. He quickly became friends with D. H. Peligro (Dead Kennedys) who introduced him to Flea.
After Red Hot Chili Peppers’ original guitarist Hilel Slovak died of a heroin overdose in 1988, his place for a short time took DeWayne McKnight. The band was not satisfied with him, and they eventually decided to audition Frusciante who was well familiar with their work. John was accepted to the band, and the rest is history.
John Frusciante played on 5 out of 10 of RHCP’s albums, and recorded 14 albums independently. His playing style helped build the band’s image, and he gained a huge following himslef which got him placed as number 18 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” in 2003, and he was voted as “The Best Guitarist of the Last 30 Years” in a 2010 BBC poll called “The Axe Factor”.
In 2009, Frusciante announced he had parted ways with the Chili Peppers. Since then he continues to dedicate his time to writing and producing music, mostly focusing on electronic genre. His friend Omar Rodriguez-Lopez commented on John’s current state of mind: “John’s in a different place right now. He’s in a place where he couldn’t care less about putting things out or about something being a product. He’s living by different standards right now with a different philosophy, so he doesn’t want to be a part of anything that he knows is going to end up being a product.”
John’s latest solo album is entitled “Letur-Lefr” and it’s available on Amazon Store.
John Frusciante’s Electric Guitars:
“My main Strat is a sunburst ’62, my second favorite is a sunburst ’57 (Ed. Note: appointments suggest the Strat is actually a ’55), and my third is a red ’61.” (source: VintageGuitar.com)
1962 Fender Stratocaster
John is known to be favoring pre-CBS Strats. This worn-out Sunburst with rosewood neck was made in 1962 and was given to John by Anthony as a gift after John came back to the Peppers in 1998. At that time John didn’t have a serious guitar except for the Jag, as all his instruments were lost in a fire that caught the house he was living in. The guitar had the original pickups but Frusciante replaced them with Seymour Duncan SSL1 single-coils. They are set pretty low which contributes to the mellow tone which he’s known for.
“I had my ’62, which has the original pickups, and then I had the ’55 with the Duncans, and the sound was very similar. The differences had more to do with the guitars than the pickups. Eventually, I had to get Duncans in the ’62, as well. ” VintageGuitar.com
The guitar is easy 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 the 2000’s and at the recent ones, the wear seems to be increasing. You can see the guitar yourself on almost any live performance of the RHCP with John, more precisely on the “Live at Slane Castle” DVD on the songs like “Don’t forget me” and “Under the bridge”.
1955 Fender Stratocaster
Frusciante’s second favorite guitar, and his only maple-necked Stratocaster. When playing with Peppers, he usually uses it for songs like “Zephyr song” and “Dani California”. Its two-tone Sunburst, with Seymour Duncan SSL1 Pickups.
“On my ’55, I bought it with an expert who insisted we open it up to see if the pickups were original. He and the people at the store all thought that they were original. Then years later we found out that they were Seymour Duncan Vintage Strat pickups.” VintageGuitar.com
The serial number of his 55′ Strat is 6793.
Here’s an interesting interview with John about recording Dani California. It features his ’55 Strat.
To avoid any misunderstandings, for many years John thought that this guitar was actually a ’57 Strat, but it was proven to be a ’55. He might also be referring to his Shure SM57 microphone when talking about the equipment used for Dani California.
1961 Fender Stratocaster
There’s not much to be found about this guitar. John started using it on live performances just recently, for the Stadium Arcadium tour, mostly as a backup for his ’62 Stratocaster.
It is 1961 Fiesta red Strat with rosewood neck, and most likely with Seymour Duncan SSL1 Pickups like his other two Stratocasters.
1963 Fender Stratocaster
Another heavily worn pre-CBS era Stratocaster, but this one in Olympic white.
Interesting quote from John about this guitar: “There’s a cool white early-’60s Strat that was rented to me at one point for some reason, and I just had such fun playing that I bought it. But it ended up not really being able to alternate with my other guitars; it’s the kind of guitar you can have some fun on, but it’s not really practical. If you break a string and someone hands you that guitar, you’re not going to be able to do the same thing with it at all. ” VintageGuitar.com
1963 Fender Telecaster
At the time of the “By The Way” album, John played Telecasters more than his Strats. This one is a ’63 Custom Sunburst Telecaster, which can be recognized by Fender “F” sticker on the pickguard, and a black tape on the top edge for a better grip.
For the “By The Way” album John actually had another similar Telecaster, which he later gave to Josh Klinghoffer.
1955 Gretsch White Falcon
Vincent Gallo found this guitar for John, as John stated in his 2004 interview for Total Guitar: “He’s found me a lot of things. At this point he’s found me pretty much a whole recording studio! As far as guitars go, he’s found me my 1955 Gretsch White Falcon, which is the nicest guitar I have, I think. I have a Rickenbacker that he got me from 1961 that used to be owned by James Burton. I have a Gibson 175 like Steve Home played on Close To The Edge. And I guess that the Telecasters he found for me, and my SG Custom from 1961 he found me. I really don’t have that much that he didn’t find for me…”
John played it on studio versions of “Otherside” and “Californication”.
1962 Fender Jaguar
Fiesta red colored Jaguar with rosewood neck. This guitar is the only guitar John had with him when he re-joined the Peppers (before he got the ’62 strat), and can be seen on many of the early photos of John. It’s also one of his favorites, as he said in an interview: “I love Fender Jaguars. I feel like Strats are an extension of me, and a Jaguar feels like the next closest thing to being an extension of me. Les Pauls and SGs seem like a further stretch.” VintageGuitar.com
1969 Gibson Les Paul Custom
Stock Les Paul custom quipped with two dual humbuckers. He used it to give the Peppers a little different sound, demonstrated in songs like “Fortune Faded” and “Readymade”.
When asked what guitar he always wanted, but was unable to have, Frusciante answered that it would be the “Holy Grail” ’59 Les Paul, but he didn’t appreciate the price that guitar collectors have put on it (this guitar reaches prices well over 200,000$).
1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom
Cherry red SG with three PAF pickups and white pickguard. There’s not much info about this guitar, except that it was used in the “Fortune Faded” music video.
John used this guitar briefly during the early Mother’s Milk era. He had two of them, both completely stock, but one of them filled with all kinds of stickers.
For those of you who want to hear how it sounds, here’s a video clip from 1989: Link.
1961 Rickenbacker 365 Deluxe
|Deluxe version of the 360 model, with added tremolo and white binding on the body’s edge. We’ve never seen John actually playing it, but it’s surely a part of his collection.|
|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.|
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 the Roland MC-202.
John Frusciante’s Acoustic Guitars:
This is a vintage small-bodied Martin, built of all mahogany in the late ’50s. He used it to record most of the stuff on “The Empyrean” (acoustic guitar on “Central” was done by Johnny Marr), with Peppers on the songs “Road Trippin'” and “Venice Queen”, and on his perhaps best known song “The Past Recedes”.
During one of John’s solo gigs the string broke on his Martin, and John had a backup 0-15, which leads us to believe that he actually owns two identical Martins 0-15.
John played this Martin in an interview for Dutch television in September ’91. He most likely lost it in previously mentioned fire that caught his house.
|This was probably not John’s guitar but we decided to list it anyways. He played it live on BBC on one occasion (see video)|
|Basically a twelve-string version of D-28. Seen in the “Past Recedes” music video, and on some of the photo-shootings done at John’s place.|
John Frusciante’s Guitar Amps:
Marshall Silver Jubilee 25/55 100W
|John usually uses this amp for live for heavier tones.|
Marshall Major 200 W
|John plays through two of these with KT88 tubes. He usually uses them for clean sound.|
|Used for short time, but he usually sticks to the Marshall trio.|
John Frusciante’s Guitar Effects:
John changes the setup of his pedalboard quite frequently, and you’ll always see him with this huge board full of all kinds of pedals, which probably only he knows how to configure all.
We managed to make a list of most of the effect he used based on the pictures we found, but please note that most of these pedals are not used together, but throughout many different setups:
- Boss CE-1 Chorus
Started using it in the Mother’s Milk era, and continues to use it to this day.
- Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion
Used on “Dani California”, “Parallel Universe”, and many others.
- Boss DS-1 Distortion
Seen in the earlier setup.
- 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.
- Boss FZ-3 Fuzz Pedal
Can be heard on the studio version of “Around the World”, “Scar Tissue” and “Purple Stain”.
- MXR Micro Amp
- MXR Phase 90
Used quite extensively on the “Californication” album, on songs like “Easily” and “Porcelain” .
- Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi
John now uses the USA version, but the Russian Pi was also seen as a part of his board.
- Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb Pedal
- Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Electric Mistress Flanger Pedal
- Keeley Electronics 60’s Mosrite Fuzzrite
- Ibanez WH10V2 Wah Pedal
One of John’s main pedals. He used it from the first album up unitl Stadium Arcadium.
- Line 6 DL4 Stompbox Delay Modeler
- Line 6 FM4 Filter Modeler
This pedal comes with 6 built-in effects, and John used very frequently for last couple of albums
- DigiTech PDS-1002 Delay
- Guyatone VT-X Vintage Tube Tremolo
- Moog Music MF103 Moogerfooger Twelve Stage Phaser Pedal
- Moog CP-251 Control Processor
- Moog Music EP2 Expression Pedal
- Moog Music MF101 Moogerfooger Low Pass Envelope Filter Pedal
- Moog MF-105B Bass MuRF Moogerfooger
- Moog MF-105 Moogerfooger MURF
- Moog Music MF102 Moogerfooger Ring Modulator Pedal
John Frusciante’s Guitar Strings:
|D’Addario EXL110 Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Regular Light, 10-46|
John Frusciante’s Guitar Picks:
|Dunlop Standard Tortex .60mm, Orange|