Summary of John’s 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.
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 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
Please note that this is just a quick basic guide for beginners. In reality, a lot of factors go into replicating someone’s sound, and it’s usually nearly impossible to achieve. To see the equipment that Jeff actually used himself, and all that went into it, refer to the chronological list below.
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. Luckily, there’s a lot of modern versions of these guitars produced today, and a guitar such as a 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.
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. The 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 enormous 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.
If you’re planning to emulate John’s sound, you’ll need at least two pedals, and these are basically must-have. The 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 extensively).