John Frusciante’s Guitars and Gear

John’s choice of equipment is best separated into two groups, stuff used in his first stint with the band and during the BSSM era, and stuff used once he re-joined the Peppers and recorded Californication.

As far as guitars, the first era started off with a few odd guitars, such as the 1980 Kramer Pacer, and a couple of Ibanez RG700 series guitars. By 1990, and the release of Mother’s Milk, John started using Fender Stratocasters almost exclusively, and the Blood Sugar Sex Magik, according to John, was almost completely recorded on a 1958 model. Another notable guitar from this period was a 1966 Fender Jaguar, used most famously during the “Under the Bridge” music video.

But whatever John used during the first era, was lost during the years he was inactive. According to Frusciante, the only guitar he owned in 1998 when the Peppers asked him to re-joined to the band, was a red 1962 Fender Jaguar which he purchased a year prior. However, he felt like he needed a proper guitar, asked Anthony for a loan, and went to Guitar Center and purchased a vintage 1962 Fender Stratocaster. This Stratocaster would become his main guitar, which he used extensively in the studio and live ever since then.

John Frusciantie of U.S. band Red Hot Chilli Peppers performs on stage during the British leg of the Live Earth concerts at London’s Wembley Stadium, Saturday July 7, 2007. Photo by Rogelio A. Galaviz C./Flickr

Other notable guitars from this period include a 1955 Fender Stratocaster with a maple neck, which is probably his second-most used guitar overall, and a 1960s Fender Telecaster Custom. Also, worth mentioning is the 1955 Gretsch White Falcon, which John considers to be “the nicest guitar” he owns. This guitar was used to record both “Otherside”, and “Californication”.

Regarding amps, ever since the release of Californication, John mainly relied on a combination of a Marshall Major 200W head and a Marshall Silver Jubilee for live performances. In the studio, however, John would most often run the Marshall Major together with a vintage 100-watt Marshall Super Bass.

John’s usual setup with the Peppers. Marshall Silver Jubilee on the left, and a 200W Marshall Major on the right. Photo source: YouTube

John is also known for using a wide variety of effect pedals. Among them is the Ibanez WH-10 Wah, which John swears by as the best Wah he ever used, a Boss DS-2 Distortion, which is a regular on John’s pedalboard, and a Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble – used in the earlier years to split the signal between his amps.

John Frusciante Equipment Guide

Guitars

For most of his career, John relied on vintage Fender Stratocasters, but since these are extremely expensive and increasingly rare, they are not really what one would call a reasonable purchase for most. Luckely, there's a lot of modern versions of these guitars produced today, and a guitar like Fender Classic Series '60s Stratocaster will do the job more than well enough. Whatever you go for, look for 1960s specs (low output pickups, rosewood fretboard, etc), and don't go much below $300. If the budget is tight, Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster is always a good choice, and goes for around that price.

Amps

John is all about vintage tube Marshalls, but again, these are pretty expensive, and most of us will want something more reasonable. A smart choice would be a good quality modeling amp, maybe a Marshall Code 25. Cool thing about buying a modeling amp is that you get a lot of built-in effect in it, which in the case of John's, you'll really need (we've all seen photos of his enourmous pedalboard). If you really wanna go full out, and have a guitar head and a cabinet like John, start with something like a Marshall DSL100HR - however, at that price point, you probably already know what you're doing.

Effect Pedals

If you're planing to emulate John's sound, you'll need atleast two pedals, and these are basically must-have. First one is an Ibanez WH10V2 Wah Wah (John uses an older version, no longer available), and a Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion (which he uses extensivelly).

Strings, Picks

John uses D'Addario EXL110s, so grab a set of those, and grab youself a pack of Dunlop Tortex .60mm picks.

Chronological list of Guitars, Amps, Effects, and Accessories used by John Frusciante

Electric Guitars

access_time 1988

1986/87 Kramer Pacer Custom II

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 a few gigs with the Peppers [Red Hot Chili Peppers John Anson Ford Theater October 8, 1988], and for some of the early gigs with HATE (sideband project with Flea). This particular […]

access_time 1988

Ibanez RG760

John used a couple of different Ibanez guitars early on in Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1988 and 1989. The best-known one is the guitar featured on most of the photos that come up when you Google “John Frusciante Ibanez” – featuring a ton of stickers and hand-writings on the body. Based on the time when he used, […]

access_time 1989

Ibanez RG750

To our knowledge, John was seen playing this guitar only on one occasion – at Shafer Court, Virginia Commonwealth University on April 14, 1989. Most likely the guitar was a backup for John’s main Ibanez, model RG760, and that he used it for that purpose more than just once. Also, given that the photo below was taken […]

access_time 1989

1968 Fender Stratocaster

This was Frusciante’s main Stratocaster around the time of the release of ‘Mother’s Milk album’. It was seen on numerous occasions around that time, predominantly in 1989, but possibly also in 1990. Just to name a few, John played it at a gig at Dam Square, Amsterdam, on August 26, 1989, at Pinkpop in the Netherlands on June […]

access_time 1989

1970s Les Paul Custom

Acquired sometime prior to Mother’s Milk and used (most likely) to record ‘Higher Ground’, ‘Good Time Boys’, and ‘Knock Me Down’. This is based on the fact that John used the guitar when performing the songs lives, although he never really gave precise statements on this subject – so take it with a grain of […]

access_time 1990

1966 Fender Jaguar (Under the Bridge)

This Fender Jaguar is undeniably best known for its appearance on ‘Under the Bridge’ video. The date of purchase is unfortunately unknown, but it is known that this was one of John’s favorite guitars at the time – the one he’d use for practicing and fooling around in his room. John’s Jaguar was finished in what’s […]

access_time 1991

Fender Stratocaster Fretless

John used this guitar briefly on BSSM to record the solo on “Mellowship Slinky in B Major”. He bought the guitar just prior to recording the album, and it apparently had really bad frets. He took the guitar to a local guitar shop to replace them with new ones, but was unsatisfied with the result and asked for […]

access_time 1991

1990s Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

John was seen playing this guitar in March 1991 during a side project with Flea (see video below). The project was focused around a band called HATE (Hops, Anarchy, Truth For Everyone), and next to John and Flea, it involved Angelo Moore from Fishbone and Nick Alexander (former Germs). The band was disbanded in 1991, most likely due to the two Peppers […]

access_time 1991

1958 Fender Stratocaster (BSSM)

For the recording of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, John used what was apparently a late 50s sunburst Stratocaster. However, there are some issues with this, because for that to be true, the guitar had to have had a maple neck, because rosewood necks were introduced only in May 1959. And, since we have a pretty good […]

access_time 1993

1960s Fender Jaguar (Blue)

This guitar was seen on one of the photos taken at John’s place circa 1993 (around the same the documentary “The Stuff” was filmed). Although somewhat similar, this is almost certainly not the same guitar John used in ‘Under the Bridge’ video. This guitar seems to have a blue finish (lake placid blue to be exact) […]

access_time 1997

1962 Fender Jaguar (Red)

From 1994 to around 1997 John seems to have lost nearly all of his instruments in a fire that caught his house, and those few that survived were probably sold for money since John was having drug problems at the time. Furthermore, Anthony Kiedis notes in his book ‘Scar Tissue’ that John had no guitar […]

access_time 1998

1962 Fender Stratocaster

This guitar was purchased by Anthony Kiedis when Frusciante joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers again in 1998. According to Anthony, at that time, John didn’t have a guitar of his own (all of his old guitars were either sold or lost in a fire that caught his house), but according to John himself, he did […]

access_time 1998

1955 Fender Stratocaster

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 – […]

access_time 1998

1960s Fender Telecaster Custom

Bought sometime prior to Californication, and used on a few songs from that album – specifically “Easily” and “Scar Tissue” (only on the solo). It was also used on the band’s 2002 album “By the Way”, where John used this exact guitar to record one of their bigger hits, “Can’t Stop”. I just played the […]

access_time 1998

1955 Gretsch White Falcon

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 […]

access_time 1998

1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom

According to John, this SG can be heard during the breakdown section of ‘Otherside’ (if you’re listening to the studio version of the song, this part comes at around 2:52 time mark), but most people will probably remember it for its appearance in the music video for the song ‘Fortune Faded’. At this point, we […]

access_time 1999

1956 Gibson ES-175D

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 (he uses .012s on that guitar, and .010s on his Strats). The guitar […]

access_time 2001

1961 Fender Stratocaster (white)

John presumably bought this guitar sometime in the early 2000s and started using it during the 2001 tour as a backup for his main 1962 Stratocaster (see Rock in Rio 2001). It was however used for a very brief period of time, as John apparently didn’t find it that practical. There’s a cool white early-’60s Strat that […]

access_time 2005

1960s Fender Duo-Sonic

This guitar was seen on some photos taken at John’s place presumably sometime in the early 2000s. Unfortunatly, John does not seem to mention the guitar in any of articles and interviews, so not much is known about it. What can be concluded from the photos is that the guitar is most likely an early […]

access_time 2005

1961 Fender Stratocaster (Fiesta Red)

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 […]

access_time 2005

1963 Fender Stratocaster (White)

Another guitar bought sometime prior to Stadium Arcadium. John supposedly used it a lot during the rehearsals, and even during the recording session on a couple of songs. It was also seen occasionally during the tour, sometimes played by Josh Klinghoffer in the background. The guitar was made in 1963, and it features Olympic white finish and […]

access_time 2006

1959 Fender Stratocaster (Fretless)

John used this guitar occasionally on tour in 2005/2006 [Red Hot Chili Peppers – Live La Cigale 2006]. At that point in time, the Strat was most likely completely stock and featured a fixed tremolo bridge. Sometime in mid to late 2006, John decided to mod the guitar and replace the original neck with a […]

access_time 2007

1969 Gibson Les Paul Custom

John acquired this guitar sometime prior to Stadium Arcadium, and allegedly used it on that album to record “Readymade”, and some overdubs on “Make You Feel Better”. He also picked it up occasionally live to play “Fortune Faded” – a song which was likely originally recorded on his 1961 SG/Les Paul Custom. The guitar is a […]

access_time 2009

1960s Bartell St. George XK12

This is one of the lesser known guitars of John’s. It seems to have been mentioned only once by him, in an interview with Guitarist & Bass (FR), in March 2009, when he talked about ‘The Empyrean’ album, and it was also seen on a few photos taken at John’s place sometime in the mid-2000s. […]

access_time 2009

1960s Fender Jaguar (white, Roland synth)

John acquired this guitar presumably sometime in early to mid-2000s. Although this is purely just a guess, this could possibly be the same Jaguar that he used during the Californication sessions in 1999 to record ‘Around the World’, although at that time, the guitar belonged to the studio engineer, Jim Scott. [Guitar Player, September 1999] Be that as it […]

access_time 2009

1960s Rickenbacker 365 Deluxe

This is one of the guitar photographed during John’s interview with Vintage Guitar magazine in 2009. From the photos, it seems that this is the Deluxe version of the standard 360 model, with added tremolo and white binding on the body’s edge. The guitar was allegedly owned by James Burton prior to John acquiring it. The only other […]

access_time 2009

Gibson ES-335

This guitar was photograph during John’s interview with Vintage Guitar magazine in 2009, and on a few other occasions just sitting around his house. It’s one of the guitars he doesn’t use that much, and among the few that he bought mainly because Stevie Howe (from the band Yes) played them. The Les Paul is a […]

access_time 2010

1980 Yamaha SG2000

This is one of John’s more recent guitars, used from circa 2010. It is only one of a number of different Yamaha SG guitars that he owns, but it is apparently his favorite one. The guitar was used on PBX  and Enclosure albums. My main guitars are Yamaha SG2000s. My favorite is a purple one from […]

Acoustic Guitars

Amps

access_time 1988

Carvin X-100B/X-60B

Used right after joining the Peppers in late 1988. The amp was either an X-100B or an X-60B head, connected to a pair of 4×12 Carvin cabinets. Based on the logo design, and speakers having black rings instead of white – the amp was made sometime in 1987 [The Carvin Museum – 1980 Guitar Amplifiers].

access_time 1988

Soldano SLO100

This is the amp that John used during the ‘Mother’s Milk’ studio sessions, however, during the album tour, he used either a Mesa/Boogie (unknown model), or a Marshall JCM800. For the album, I played through a Soldano head, which goes to “11.” [Guitar Player (USA), April 1990]

access_time 1990

Marshall JCM800

John used these amps extensively during the Mother’s Milk tour, usually connected to a pair of Marshall 4×10 speaker cabinets. At this point, we don’t know whether John used JCM800 model 2203 or model 2204 (the difference between the two being 100W in the former, versus 50W in the later). What we can conclude from the […]

access_time 1991

Mesa Boogie Head (Unknown)

John used this amp in early 1991, although there are very few photos or videos of him actually using it as the band played only five gigs in early 1991, before taking a break to work on BSSM album. Based on a statement that John gave in an interview dated to February 1991, at that […]

access_time 1991

Fender H.O.T. Combo Amp

John used this small practice combo amp in early 1991 for some overdubs on the BSSM album. For some overdubs I used a Fender H.O.T. practice amp. […] It’s pretty good, you know. I think I got some amazing sounds out of it. Facing it to the ground and that kind of shit. And for some […]

access_time 1991

Marshall Bass Head (BSSM)

Based on photographic evidence, and statements made by John, this amp was used extensively on the Blood Sugar Sex Magic album. However, as he never stated specifically which amp he used on the record, we’re left to guess by ourselves. For most of the basics, I used two Marshalls: a guitar head for edge and a […]

access_time 1998

Marshall Major 200W (Model 1967)

Used first during the ‘Californication’ recording sessions, paired with a Marshall Bass head (similar principle as on BSSM, except that he mostly used a JCM800 there). He continued using this amp for ‘By the Way’ and ‘Stadium Arcadium’ as his main amp both in the studio and on stage – here paired with a Marshall […]

access_time 1998

Marshall Silver Jubilee

First used during the Californication studio session in 1998/99 and on the following tour. The amp quickly became a part of John’s main stage amp setup, always paired with a Marshall Major amp. In the Chili Peppers, I always have a Marshall Major, Marshall Jubilee, and my old Fender Stratocasters. [Vintage Guitar (USA), April 2009] On occasions, […]

access_time 1999

1965 Marshall JTM-45

This amp was used to some extent on the Californication album, usually paired with a Marshall Super Bass. Interestingly, even though John recorded some of the songs on it, the amp was never used on tour, but a 200W Marshall Lead was used instead. (Talking about ‘Around the World’:) That’s a Fender Jaguar I borrowed from our […]

access_time 1999

Fender Blackface Showman

Possibly used during the studio recording of “Scar Tissue” and “Otherside” [Guitar Player, September 1999], as there are photos showing the amp sitting next to John’s usual setup. It appears however that this amp was used only in the studio since on the following tour a Silverface Dual Showman was used instead. [Red Hot Chili Peppers – […]

access_time 1999

Fender Silverface Dual Showman (Head)

This amp seemed to have been used for the entirety of the Californication tour, next to a Marshall Silver Jubilee and a Major Bass. It was abandoned by the time the band went on the By The Way tour in in mid-2002, and since then John resorted to using Marshall amps exclusively on stage.

access_time 1999

Vox AC30

Used on the song “Porcelain” from the 1999 album Californication [Total Guitar (UK), Autumn 1999]. The same model, although probably not the same exact amp, was also seen on some shows that John did with Ataxia, circa 2004.

Effects

access_time 1990

Ibanez WH-10 Wah

This is John’s favorite wah pedal, and the one that he has been using consistently with the Peppers, probably from around Mother’s Milk era, all the way to Stadium Arcadium. He explained that he prefers this pedal over something like a Dunlop CryBaby because Ibanez has a wider frequency range. I have an Ibanez wah-wah […]

access_time 1990

Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble

John used this pedal from around 1990, and all the way until his departure from the Peppers in 2010. Usually, the pedal was used in the studio as a sort of a splitter, as John would plug his guitar into it, and split the signal between his Marshall Major guitar and Marshall Bass head. While playing […]

access_time 1991

Dallas/Dunlop Fuzz Face

John used this pedal early on, circa 1991. It is, unfortunately, unknown to which extent he used it, and if he used it at all during the BSSM studio sessions or just while playing live. Also, since there are no photos (to our knowledge) of him with the pedal, it is unknown whether he used a vintage […]

access_time 1991

Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion

This has been one of the longest-running pedals in John’s arsenal. The first time it was mentioned by John is all the way back in 1991, around the time of the Blood Sugar Sex Magic studio sessions, and ever since then, it has been used extensively on pretty much all of the albums John did with […]

access_time 1991

MXR Phase 90

Used in the early days during the Mother’s Milk/BSSM era. During the recording of the Californication album, however, John borrowed an MXR Phase 100, but as the band went on tour, he seemed to have purchased a Phase 90 for himself and used it live from then on. It is unknown whether he used this phase […]

access_time 1991

DOD Stereo Chorus

John used this pedal during the BSSM studio sessions to split the signal between a Marshall guitar and a Marshall bass amp that he used together for a lot of the recording (not all though, as he went straight into the board on occasion, and used a few more different Marshall amps). Although he does […]

access_time 1999

MXR Phase 100

Among others, this pedal was used at the ending of the song ‘Parallel Universe’ from the 1999 album, Californication. If you’re listening to the studio version of the song, you start hearing this effect at around 3:20. I borrowed an MXR Phase 100 from the people who were recording next door. I was looking for […]

access_time 2002

EHX Holy Grail Reverb

John started using this effect pedal around the time of the ‘By the Way’ release, circa 2002. It was seen regularly on his pedalboard during the album tour, which means that the same unit was also likely used during the studio sessions. The pedal was also used extensively during the ‘Stadium Arcadium’ era. Holy Grail […]

access_time 2005

EHX POG

John used this pedal on the outro part on ‘Snow (Hey-Oh)’, and on the second chorus on the song ‘She Looks at Me’, from the 2006 album ‘Stadium Arcadium’. During the outro section I used an Electro-Harmonix POG, which adds multiple octaves and makes the guitar sound like an organ. Towards the very end of […]

access_time 2005

Moog MF-105M MuRF

According to an interview John gave to Guitar Player magazine in 2006 (source available below), he used the Moog MuRF on the solo for ‘Tell Me Baby’. The effect was also featured on the second verse of ‘Dani California’ (listen to the video below). The second verse begins with a couple of guitars playing in […]

access_time 2005

EHX Electric Mistress Flanger

According to John, this pedal can be heard on the bridge section on the song ‘Hard to Concentrate’, from RHCP’s 2006 album ‘Stadium Arcadium’. The EHX Electric Mistress Flanger was also allegedly used on ‘By the Way’ album – but further research is needed on this. Please note that John most likely used an older […]

Strings

Accessories

Providing the Feedback

In case you notice anything wrong with the information posted here, or you have knowledge of something that you would like to share, you can provide feedback on each piece of equipment's dedicated page.

In case you want to talk to me directly, please use the mail_outline Contact Form and I will get back to you as soon as possible. (Dan)

Contributors: johannesnunes, chrisdimou2005, Stephen Rutherford, particulaviajera, Frank, kimiragheb, bdholloway, Marcin, michaelhillman, Chris Phillips, Anna, Charles W.