John Frusciante's Guitars and GearPublished : - Author : Dan Kopilovic
Summary of John Frusciante’s Gear
John Frusciante is a guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and his main guitar is a 1962 Fender Stratocaster. He purchased this guitar with the help of Anthony Kiedis in 1998, and it has been his favorite instrument ever since.
Looking back at John’s past, his choice of equipment can be separated into two groups. The first group includes the gear he used during his first stint with the band and during the Blood Sugar Sex Magik (BSSM) era. The second group includes the equipment he used after re-joining the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the late 1990s.
During the first era, John used a variety of guitars including a 1980s Performance Custom, Ibanez RG700 series guitars, and a 1958 Fender Stratocaster. The BSSM album was almost entirely recorded on this Stratocaster. John also used a 1966 Fender Jaguar, which was featured in the “Under the Bridge” music video.
However, John lost all of his gear during the years he was inactive with the band. When he re-joined in 1998, the only guitar he owned was a red 1962 Fender Jaguar that he had purchased a year prior. Feeling the need for a proper guitar, John asked Anthony for a loan and bought a vintage 1962 Fender Stratocaster from Guitar Center. This Stratocaster has become his main guitar and he has used it extensively in the studio and live performances.
Other notable guitars from this era include a 1955 Fender Stratocaster and a 1960s Fender Telecaster Custom. The 1955 Strat has a maple neck and is John’s second-most used guitar. The Telecaster is often used on the song “Can’t Stop”. John also used a 1955 Gretsch White Falcon, which he considers to be “the nicest guitar” he owns. He used this guitar to record “Otherside” and “Californication”.
John’s favorite acoustic guitar is a 1930s Martin 00-15 and he has two of them in case something goes wrong with his main one. He used this guitar notably in the music video for “The Past Recedes” and with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the song “Road Trippin'”.
Since the release of the album “Californication”, John has used a combination of a Marshall Major 200W and a Marshall Silver Jubilee guitar amp. In the studio, he often runs the Marshall Major together with a vintage 100-watt Marshall Super Bass. During the 2022 Unlimited Love tour, John occasionally used a Marshall JMP 2203 in addition to the Silver Jubilee. However, he started using both amps together on stage during the middle of the tour.
John uses a variety of effect pedals including an Ibanez WH-10 Wah, which he considers to be the best wah pedal he has ever used, a Boss DS-2 Distortion, and a Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble. He prefers D’Addario EXL110 strings on most of his electric guitars and uses Dunlop Tortex .60mm guitar picks.
List of Guitars, Amps, Effects, and Accessories used by John Frusciante
John Frusciante's Electric Guitars
Unknown StratocasterContinue Reading
John’s first-ever electric guitar was a Stratocaster. According to John, prior to that, he owned an acoustic. So, in order to convince his father to buy an electric, he learned how to play the whole Sex Pistols album.
In an interview with Rick Rubin (see link in the quote below) John also explained how prior to getting an electric guitar, he was mostly into punk rock. With him getting an electric guitar also came the discovery of Hendrix, and his musical interests changed somewhat.
I wanted to play an electric guitar years before that, but nobody would buy me one. And I just didn’t like the sounds of an acoustic. […]
Once I actaully had an electric guitar, I just became obssesed with Jimi Hendrix, and that lead me to being into Jeff Beck, and Cream…
Unfortunately, John does not mention what brand the guitar was. Most likely, it was a Stratocaster copy of some sort. He does mention that he was around 12 or 13 when all this happened, so this gives us at least an approximation of when he first started playing an electric guitar.11982
1980s Performance CustomContinue Reading
This was likely 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 guitar is somewhat of a mystery. What we do know is that it had a 24-fret maple neck with dot inlays, long banana headstock, a Strat-style body with sharper horns, and an 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.121988
Ibanez RG760Continue Reading
John used a few different Ibanez guitars early on in Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1988 and 1989. The best-known one is the guitar seen on most of the photos that come up when you Google “John Frusciante Ibanez” – featuring a ton of stickers on the body. Based on the time when he used it, the theme of the stickers, and the fact that the guitar was red – it’s possible that John got this guitar upon joining the Red Hot Chili Peppers and that these Ibanez guitars replaced John’s Performance Custom – probably the only guitar that he owned when he joined the band.
Also, based on the photos, the guitar was an RG760 model with two single-coil pickups, a humbucker in the bridge position, and The Edge tremolo system (based on the original patented Floyd Rose tremolo design), and control for volume and tone. John’s guitar was likely finished in what Ibanez called Lipstick Red, although in some photos it looks as though it’s orange.
Aside from using the Ibanez during early live gigs, based on the photos, John also used this guitar during the Mother’s Milk studio sessions. However, based on John’s statements on the gear that he used for the album, it seems that as far as the recording, the Ibanez was only there for its Floyd Rose tremolo.41988
Ibanez RG750Continue Reading
Based on the photos and videos available, John was seen playing this guitar only on one occasion – at Shafer Court, Virginia Commonwealth University on April 14, 1989.
Possibly, the guitar was a backup for John’s main Ibanez, model RG760 (if he even had a main guitar at that point), and he used it for that purpose more than just once. Also, given that the photo below was taken around the same time that the band was working on Mother’s Milk, it is possible that the guitar was used in the studio as well.21989
1968 Fender StratocasterContinue Reading 1989
This was Frusciante’s main Stratocaster around the time of the release of the Mother’s Milk album. It was seen on numerous occasions around that time, throughout 1989. Most notably it was seen during a gig at Dam Square, Amsterdam, on August 26, 1989, and in the music video for the song Knock Me Down (possibly a different, identical-looking, guitar).
According to John, his 1968 Stratocaster was stolen sometime in early 1990.
1970s Les Paul CustomContinue Reading 1989
Acquired sometime prior to Mother’s Milk and possibly used to record Higher Ground, Good Time Boys, and Knock Me Down. This is based on the fact that John on occasion used the guitar when performing the songs live, although he never really gave a precise statement on this subject – so take it with a grain of salt. He could’ve also just taken this guitar on the tour, and used something completely different in the studio.
I played mostly Strats and Les Pauls on the record. (continued) For a while, my main guitar was a ’68 Strat, but it was stolen. Since then, I’ve gotten a couple of others that I’ve fallen in love with. But our basic philosophy is that our tones are in our fingers, and the particular instrument you play, or what kind of pick you use, doesn’t matter much.
Guitar Player (USA), April 1990
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much info out there about this guitar. The only thing worth noting is that based on the photos, it appears to have a wide body binding, which is typical to the models made post-1975 – so John’s Les Paul was almost certainly not a highly-priced vintage model from the 50s.
1966 Fender Jaguar (Under the Bridge)Continue Reading
This Fender Jaguar is undeniably best known for its appearance in the 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.
My favorite guitar in the world is my old, fucked-up Fender Jaguar. The strings are all crusty, and the notes crap out when you bend them. I used it to write most of the music, and I became really attached to it.151990
Fender Stratocaster FretlessContinue Reading 1991
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 the complete removal of frets.
Well, the frets on this guitar were completely shot, so I took it to Nadine’s [a L.A. music store]. Actually, I took it in for something else, but the guy says, “Man you gotta get new frets.” And he put on these huge frets. Jumbos. Which were like shit. So wimpy. When I play, I press down hard on the strings. And when I did that with the jumbos, it didn’t even sound in tune. So I just told him to make it fretless.
Guitar Player, October 1991
The guitar was finished in sunburst and featured a 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 fretboard (all Strats prior to May 1959 had one). It was either an original 60s Strat or a reissue model.
I also have a ’57 Strat, which someone had screwed up by putting on those big stupid frets that everyone uses these days. I vomited and told them to make it fretless. That’s what I used for the “Mellowship Slinky” solo.
Guitar Player (USA), October 1991
1990s Gibson Les Paul GoldtopContinue Reading 1991
John was seen playing this guitar in March 1991 during a side project with Flea (see image below). The project was focused on 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 members focusing on working on Blood Sugar Sex Magik instead.
Although it’s very hard to tell anything from the video above, the guitar most likely wasn’t a vintage model, but the late 80s or early 90s one.
1958 Fender Stratocaster (BSSM)Continue Reading
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 insight into what guitars he used on the album (all gear pretty much documented in Funky Monks), we know that none of them had maple necks, and therefore John had made a mistake in his statement.
My main guitar was a ’58 Strat, though I used a Les Paul reissue on a couple of things. I also have a ’57 Strat, which someone had screwed up by putting on those big stupid frets that everyone uses these days. I vomited and told them to make it fretless. That’s what I used for the “Mellowship Slinky” solo.
A thing to note here is that the guitar that John thinks is a ’57 Stratocaster, according to photos, also had a rosewood neck. This means that John either didn’t care to know much about the guitars that he was playing at that time or that he intentionally gave out wrong information.41991
1960s Fender Jaguar (Blue)Continue Reading 1993
This guitar was seen in one of the photos taken at John’s place, published by Guitar Player magazine in January 1995.
It’s important to note here that although somewhat similar, this is almost certainly not the same guitar John used in the Under the Bridge video. This guitar seems to have a 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.
Aside from this one photoshoot, this guitar was never seen again, so it’s unknown what exactly happened to it.
1964 Fender Jaguar (Sunburst)Continue Reading 1997
John purchased this guitar on February 26, 1997, at Guitars R US store in Hollywood, together with a Gibson L-0 acoustic.
The only time that John was seen playing the guitar was during the Nuttstalk tour, in mid 1997. It is assumed that he sold the guitar before Christmas that year, since he is quoted saying that he bough himself another red Jaguar that year, as a Christmas present – having no other guitar at the time (more on this here).
1962 Fender Jaguar (Red)Continue Reading
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 to his name when he joined the band again in 1998, although according to an interview John gave to Guitarist (UK) in 2003, he did have his red Fender Jaguar.
The truth is probably that John perhaps felt like the Jaguar wasn’t good enough for recording and/or playing live with the band. He specifically said that he needed a Stratocaster if he were to record with the band again, which makes sense since he used a Strat on BSSM.21997
1962 Fender StratocasterContinue Reading
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 have his red Fender Jaguar.
It is likely that what Anthony actually meant is that John didn’t have any decent guitars of his own since the Jaguar was pretty beat-up, and probably not good enough for studio use. Furthermore, John stated himself that he needed a Stratocaster specifically – a guitar that he probably preferred recording on.171998
1954 Fender StratocasterContinue Reading
From the time he came back to the band up until the release of Californication in 1999, John acquired a good amount of new guitars. Among them was a 1954 Fender Stratocaster – the only maple neck Strat that John would ever use.
The guitar is finished in two-tone sunburst and features a one-piece maple neck. When John bought it sometime in 1998/1999 apparently the pickups were already replaced with the Seymour Duncan SSL-1s – the same ones John would later install in his main 1962 Stratocaster (or so he thought – more about this on the ’62 Strat page.).21998
1960 Fender Telecaster CustomContinue Reading
Bought sometime prior to Californication, and was 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 also had a ’61 Gibson SG, and I used a Telecaster on some things too, like “Easily” and “Scar Tissue.”
I just played the slide on a Telecaster into my Fender Showman amp. My favorite slide guitarist is Snake Finger. His influence isn’t evident on the song, but that’s how I practice slide: from playing along with him and Jimmy Page.91998
1957 Gretsch White FalconContinue Reading
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.
He picked up the guitar again on By the Way on the song Tear. On the Stadium Arcadium album, John said that he didn’t even pick the guitar out of its case101998
1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul CustomContinue Reading
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, it’s unknown whether the guitar was actually used during the recording sessions, but given the heavier sound in that song, it is highly likely that it was.
(talking about Otherside:) For the breakdown section, I used a ’61 Gibson SG Custom into a cranked Marshall JCM 800. I think that’s the best kind of distortion – a humbucker into a Marshall, like Eddie Van Halen.11998
1956 Gibson ES-175DContinue Reading
John found this guitar through Vincent Gallo sometime in 1999. It features a dark sunburst finish, two PAF pickups, and a full depth hollow body making it a semi-acoustic guitar. Although he referred to it in a couple of interviews as a ’56, that can’t be the case since the PAFs were not available on models made before 1957. Therefore, the guitar is either a ’57 or newer.
Interestingly, 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).
You know, you can’t really play funk on .012s, but I did feel, based on the two or three guitar players there are in rock music who play with .012s or .013s, that I could develop a style that would go with Flea’s bass playing on strings of that size. So I wrote a couple of songs using that guitar, and it worked out well.21999
1963 Fender Stratocaster (white)Continue Reading 2001
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 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.
An important thing to note is that this is not the same white Strat that John used during the Stadium Arcadium tour. You can read more about that particular guitar at John Frusciante’s 1961 Fender Stratocaster (White).
1999 Fender Silver Sparkle Stratocaster ("Can't Stop")Continue Reading 2002
John was seen using the guitar during the “Can’t Stop” music video, alongside an orange Fender Toronado. Apparently, neither one of the guitars was his and both were rented by the production company specifically to be used in the video.
The director, Mark Romanek, was likely looking for a guitar that would fit the theme orange/white theme. Since all of John’s guitars were vintage 50s/60s models, he probably felt they would look out of place. Allegedly, John protested and wanted to stick with his vintage guitars but was eventually persuaded.
Fender Toronado Deluxe (Orange)Continue Reading 2002
This guitar was used by John during the “Can’t Stop” music video. Alongside with the Silver Sparkle Stratocaster, which was used for the majority of the video, this guitar too didn’t actually belong to John. Both of them were rented out by the production company, in order to fit the orange/white theme of the video.
1965 Fender Duo-SonicContinue Reading
This guitar was seen in some photos taken at John’s place presumably sometime in the early 2000s.
What can be concluded from the photos is that the guitar is most likely an early to mid-1960s Fender Duo-Sonic finished in white, featuring two single-coil pickups, and a stop-tail bridge.
According to an interview that JFEffects did with Dave Lee, John’s guitar tech, this guitar was actually used by John to write Under the Bridge. As Dave explained, a kid approached the band staff, and asked for John, saying that he would like to give him his old guitar back.32005
1961 Fender Stratocaster (Fiesta Red)Continue Reading 2005
This is one of the guitars John bought shortly before the Stadium Arcadium release, most likely to have something on hand available as a backup for his 1962 Stratocaster.
This Stratocaster was made in 1961 and features a 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 Duncans like in his two main Strats (although, as it turns out, only in his ’55 Strat).
1961 Fender Stratocaster (White)Continue Reading
This Strat was acquired sometime prior to the Stadium Arcadium tour. John supposedly used it a lot during the rehearsals, and even during the recording session on a few songs (source on this needed). It was also seen occasionally during the tour, sometimes played by Josh Klinghoffer in the background.
To try an figure out when this guitar was made, one can simply look at the slab fretboard, which was replaced by a thinner veneer fretboard on the models made after 1962. So, no earlier than ’59 (introduction of rosewood fretboards, and no later than ’62 (JFEffects has it listed as a ’61, so that sounds about right).82005
1959 Fender Stratocaster (Fretless)Continue Reading
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 fretless one.
The reason that might have led John to choose this exact guitar to be re-fitted with a fretless neck is probably the fact that it had a very thin D – shaped neck that was specific to the 59/60 Strats — as opposed to fatter necks that were fitted on the 1961-63 Strats which John obviously favored. The job was done by Ned Evett and was arranged by Frusciante’s guitar tech, Dave Lee.
I took a Warmouth vintage replacement neck, outfitted it with a glass fretless fingerboard and attached it to the 1959 Fender hardtail Strat body John provided. The original neck was safely removed, and no modifications to the original guitar were made.22006
1969 Gibson Les Paul CustomContinue Reading
John acquired this guitar sometime prior to Stadium Arcadium and used it on that album to record Readymade, and some overdubs on Make You Feel Better [Murgs, Muff’ns, and Modular Synths – John Frusciante Puts His Stamp on Stadium Arcadium].
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 1969 model with two PAF humbuckers without the metal pickup covers, and except for this, nothing on it appears to be modified.
The Les Paul is a ’69, but I’m not sure what years the ES-175 and 335 are from. I don’t play those much; I bought them because Steve Howe played them, but they don’t really go with my style that well. 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.12007
1960s Bartell St. George XK12Continue Reading 2009
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.
The guitar is a 12-string model designed by Paul Barth, who was one of the pioneers of the electric guitar. Prior to starting his own company, Paul worked as a designer for Rickenbacker, during which time he helped develop the first-ever electric guitar – the Rickenbacker “Frying Pan”. [Paul Barth – Magnatone Amps]
Frusciante’s guitar was made during the period from 1964 to 1968 when Paul partnered with Ted Peckels to build guitars under a brand called “Bartell”. It features two single-coil pickups, a non-adjustable aluminum bridge, individual switches for the pickups, a phase switch, and control knobs for volume and tone.
1960s Fender Jaguar (white, Roland synth)Continue Reading
John acquired this guitar presumably sometime in 1998/99. 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. It could also be that this is a completely different guitar.
That’s a Fender Jaguar I borrowed from our recording engineer Jim Scott. I like Jags-they get a real cool, cheap sound. I played it through two Marshalls: a JTM 45 and a 100-watt SuperBass. That SuperBass is great. It’s so thick sounding”.22009
1960s Rickenbacker 365 DeluxeContinue Reading
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 apparently owned by James Burton prior to John acquiring it, and it has James’ name engraved on the tremolo cover.
The only other time that John appeared with this guitar was during the music video for the song Dani California. It is unfortunately unknown whether the guitar was used on any of the recordings.52009
1961 Gibson ES-335Continue Reading
This guitar was photographed 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 ’69, but I’m not sure what years the ES-175 and 335 are from. I don’t play those much; I bought them because Steve Howe played them, but they don’t really go with my style that well. 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.
In 2020, the guitar was sold to Matthieu Lucas from Matt’s Guitar Shop, an Argentinian guitar collector. Dave Simpson, who you probably know already if you’re researching John Frusciante, recently had a chance to actually play this exact guitar (video below).12009
1980 Yamaha SG2000Continue Reading 2010
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 1980. I have a few others and a few SG1500s. I switched from the Strat to the Yamahas in late 2010. I’ve played the Strat once in the last three years, and only on one little recording.
I’ve been playing Yamaha SG-2000s mostly, from the late Seventies and early Eighties. They’re my favorite kind of guitar. You can get a lot of tonal variety out of them, and in terms of the wood they’re very heavy guitars, so they have a very fat sound. Much fatter than Strats. (continued) The Yamaha SGs, the guitar is balanced harmonically the same way a piano or an organ is. Whether it’s the lowest note on the instrument or the highest one, it has an equal kind of breadth. And you don’t have as much roundness to the sound, where the note starts thinner and then gets thicker…all that kind of stuff. You get a straight, fat, consistent sound on every fret of every string.
2000s Performance Corsair CustomContinue Reading 2013
John used this guitar to record the song Wayne, which he released in April 2013, and dedicated to one of his friends that passed away. According to an interview that John gave to Guitar Player magazine in 2014, he really liked the guitar and started preferring it over the Yamaha SG that he mained after leaving the Peppers.
I also have a Performance guitar, made by a guy named Kunio Sugai in North Hollywood. I played it on a ten-minute solo on a song called “Wayne” that I recorded a few months ago when a friend of mine died. It’s kind of like a Strat, and has a great whammy bar system that stays in tune really well. After three years of mostly playing the SG, I’ve found myself playing that guitar more and more.
John Frusciante, Guitar Player magazine, March 2014
1963 Fender Stratocaster (White, 2022 Tour)Continue Reading 2022
During the 2022 Unlimited Love tour, John was seen using a white battered Fender Stratocaster. The wonderful “jfgear” Instagram page immediately figured out that this is the same guitar owned by the Guitar-EXP collection, who claim that this is one of Jimi Hendrix’s original Stratocasters. Not only that, they claim it’s one of Jimi’s most important Stratocasters – they claim it’s Linda, the only guitar that Jimi carried with him when he came over to the UK in 1968.
Based on the image that we have of Linda, there are a few differences between that guitar and the guitar that John can be playing in the photo above.
John Frusciante's Acoustic Guitars
Martin D-18Continue Reading
John was seen playing this guitar circa 1991, in a photograph taken by Karen Miller (we’re working on getting the photo displayed here for you to see).
Although it appears that this is the same guitar that John played in an interview for Dutch television filmed in September 1991, upon closer inspection, it’s obvious that this is a Martin D-18, and not a D-28 (you can read more about the second guitar here – John Frusciante’s Martin D-28). The main giveaway is no visible binding on the body.
Based on pure guesswork, and because it seems that John had this same guitar with him at The Mansion during the BSSM sessions, it is likely that this was John’s main acoustic guitar around this time. Also, since this is the only other acoustic guitar seen during the Funky Monks documentary that wasn’t a 12-string, it is possible that he used it on the track I Could Have Lied.41991
Martin 12-StringContinue Reading
This guitar was used on the song Breaking the Girl, from the Peppers’ 1991 album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The process of the actual recording of the acoustic part was filmed and can be seen in the Funky Monks documentary.
Around the time we did ‘Breaking the Girl,’ I was listening to Led Zeppelin III- I really like that song ‘Friends’- and I was playing 12-string a lot. The chords for the chorus came from a Duke Ellington book. I was trying to learn one of the songs, and I learned like three chords of a song that probably has 50 chords in it, and I took those three chords somewhere else.
Unfortunately, at this time, this guitar is somewhat of a mystery. Based on the overall body and headstock shape, it seems to be a Martin, but the fact that the sides of the body are made of some kind of light-colored wood is a bit confusing. On most of their 12-string models, like the D12-28, Martin uses mahogany back and sides, which are of course dark in color – but perhaps there’s a custom version of it out there.81991
Martin D-28Continue Reading 1991
John was seen playing this Martin during an interview for Dutch television filmed in September 1991, and it was possibly used during studio sessions of BSSM, as something similar was seen sitting in John’s bedroom at The Mansion (watch the Funky Monks documentary).
The footage is however too grainy to tell anything for sure, and it is more likely that the bedroom guitar from Funky Monks is actually a Martin D-18, the same guitar that John was photographed with around the same time. It’s however worth pointing this out for the people who confuse the two models, as they are quite similar.
Kay K-230 (VPRO Interview)Continue Reading
This guitar was seen during the infamous interview that John did with VPRO in 1994. At that time, he was living at his girlfriend’s (Toni Oswald) apartment in Venice Beach, California, as his own house burned down just a couple of months before.
The guitar that John played during the interview has no visible branding on the headstock, therefore it’s really hard to determine the exact model. Luckily, the person who owns the guitar now was kind enough to get in contact and share that it’s a Kay K-230 classical guitar.11994
Gibson L-0 Robert JohnsonContinue Reading 1997
John purchased this guitar on February 26, 1997 at Guitars R Us in Hollywood for $2000. At that same time, he purchased a sunburst 1964 Fender Jaguar.
John was seen using this guitar only once, at Hollywood Moguls on March 28, 1997. It’s unknown what happened to it, but it most likely ended up being pawned/sold sometime later that year.
1940s/50s Martin 0-15Continue Reading
John borrowed this Martin guitar from Anthony when the band started working on Californication. In his own words – he used it to get in the grove again, and for coming up with initial ideas for the songs.
Yeah. It’s from the 1930s. I borrowed it from Anthony. Rick Rubin gave it to Anthony, and Anthony let me borrow it when we started writing Californication. I really fell in love with it; I’ve written so many songs on it. I just bought another one that I’m having some sort of system put in it so I can play acoustic shows – it’s this “state-of-the-art” pickup system that there is now for acoustics. It’s a microphone; it’s not really a pickup.
Well, it was the guitar that Rick Rubin gave to Anthony and Anthony lent it to me. I just haven’t given it back yet. It was the guitar I learnt to write songs on again, and I got two more small-bodied Martins because nothing else sounds as good when I play them. I’m as attached to Martins now as I am to Stratocasters.71998
Maton CW80CContinue Reading 1999
John played this Maton acoustic guitar during a part of the Californication tour. The first time that the guitar was seen was in the photos published in the Guitar Player Magazine in September 1999. The photos show Maton sitting in the rack/traveling case, behind John’s electric guitars.
The only other time that the guitar was seen was during Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit concert on October 29, 2000. This was also the only time during the Californication tour that the band did an acoustic set.
Martin 0-15 #2Continue Reading 2001
John bought this guitar at Norman’s Rare Guitars sometime in the early 2000s, as a backup for his main 0-15 – a guitar that he borrowed from Rick Rubin/Anthony Kiedis after re-joining the Peppers. Soon after, this second 0-15 was fitted with a pickup and became John’s main live acoustic guitar.
I just bought another one that I’m having some sort of system put in it so I can play acoustic shows – it’s this “state-of-the-art” pickup system that there is now for acoustics. It’s a microphone; it’s not really a pickup.
One of those actually belonged to Rick Rubin. Not Anthony. The other one we bought from Norm’s Rare Guitars.
Taylor 314ceContinue Reading 2002
According to a June 2003 interview published in Guitarist Magazine, all the acoustic guitars used on the By the Way album were Taylors, borrowed from the album producer, Rick Rubin. Allegedly, Rubin pursued John to use Taylors instead of Martins on the album, although John himself preferred the latter.
The only Taylor that John was actually seen playing was a model 314ce – which he used on rare occasions at the beginning of the By the Way tour. One such occasion was on The Jonathan Ross Show, on May 31, 2002.
Martin D12-35Continue Reading 2004
John used this guitar to record parts of Ascension from his 2005 solo album Curtains.
On “Ascension” I also played a 1940’s Martin 12-string. I really love David Bowie’s Hunky Dory album, and there’s a few songs on there that have a 12-string in one speaker and a six-string in the other that basically play the same thing.
As far as the exact model, in another interview John, perhaps a bit confusingly, mentions using an E12-36 from the 40s. Now, if you read the quote, it sounds as if this E12 is separate from the Martin 12-string – sounds like he used both.
John Frusciante's Amps
Carvin X-100B/X-60BContinue Reading 1988
Frusciante used this amp 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].
Mesa Boogie Strategy 400 Stereo Power AmpContinue Reading 1989
John used this power amp in combination with a Mesa Boogie Quad Preamp very early on in the band circa 1989. Most notably, it can be seen on the Psychedelic Sexfunk-Live From Heaven footage recorded on December 30, 1989.
As far as how long he used the amps, that’s unfortunately unknown. It seems that from 1989 to 1991 he occasionally used Marshalls and some other amps, so his rig was nowhere near set in stone. In a February 1991 interview with Guitar (UK), he mentioned that he was using a Mesa Boogie at that time.
As far as amps go I have a Mesa/Boogie, and I don’t know what kind it is. But it’s two amps in one. The knobs are frozen in a good spot. I can control the volume, just not the treble or bass, but I don’t have a problem yet. I’m sure it’s going to grow little legs and walk away from me soon.
Marshall JCM800Continue Reading
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 latter).
What we can conclude from the photos is that John’s used a number of different JCM800s, mostly those with vertical inputs. On rare occasions (see Pinkpop festival footage) he was seen using a Marshall JCM800 with horizontal inputs. These models are regarded by most as less desirable than the earlier models with the vertical inputs – the main reason being a change to the circuit which made the amp sound more grainy.
It is also worth noting that at least in 1990, John didn’t use these amps exclusively. Although most of the band’s TV appearances seem to show a JCM800 (next to the in the photo above, see RHCP appearance on Letterman in March 1990), John also used a Marshall JMP head – for example during the Kawasaki gig in 1990. Also, for the few gigs that the band played in early 1991, John mostly used a Mesa Boogie head but switched back to the JCM800 after the release of BSSM.31990
Unknown AmpContinue Reading
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 February 1991, at that point the amp was halfway broken, and John was already thinking about a replacement.
As far as amps go I have a Mesa/Boogie, and I don’t know what kind it is. But it’s two amps in one. The knobs are frozen in a good spot. I can control the volume, just not the treble or bass, but I don’t have a problem yet. I’m sure it’s going to grow little legs and walk away from me soon.
Note – based on John’s description, one would assume that he’s talking about a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, however, photos seem to show something different. Below is a capture from a concert played on January 24, 1991, in Los Angeles. We see John playing through two amps, a Marshall on the left, and what appears to be a Mesa Boogie (not 100% sure) on the right. Unfortunately, the exact model is a mystery. If you happen to know what it is, be sure to leave a comment below.31991
Fender H.O.T. Combo AmpContinue Reading 1991
John used this small practice combo amp in early 1991 for some overdubs on the Blood Sugar Sex Magik 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 things, I just went direct into the board – which is like my favorite guitar sound in the world.
Marshall Bass Head (BSSM)Continue Reading
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 bass head for punch and low end. I split the signal with a DOD stereo chorus pedal. For some overdubs, I used a Fender H.O.T. practice amp, but for a lot of parts, even solos, I just went straight into the board.
In another interview, John states that he uses a 60W bass amp.
I used this little 12W practice amp and that set up got used for most overdubs ’cause it sounded so much better than all the other stuff. For the other meat I got a bunch of Strats, all ’70s models through a Marshall 60w bass head.31991
Vox Super BeatleContinue Reading 1993
This amp was seen briefly in the documentary “Stuff” filmed by Johnny Depp and Gibby Haynes in 1993. The history of this amp is unknown – whether John ever used it on any of the studio recordings, and what happened to it post-1993. Most likely, it was lost in the fire that caught John’s house around that time.
1965 Marshall JTM-45Continue Reading 1998
This Marshall was used as John’s main amp 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 recording engineer, Jim Scott. I like Jags – they get a really cool, cheap sound. I played it through two Marshalls: a JTM 45 and a 100-watt Super Bass. That Super Bass is great. It’s so thick sounding.
I used a real old ’65 Marshall. I also used a 200-watt bass head that I used on Blood Sugar – I use a bass head and a guitar head at the same time; that’s how I play. I had a good sound for this album, but Louie [the band’s right-hand man] doesn’t want me to take the heads on tour because he thinks they’ll break.
Obviously, this is conflicting info regarding the bass amp, so it’s unclear whether it was a 100W Super Bass or a 200W model.
Marshall Silver Jubilee 2555Continue Reading 1998
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.
On occasions, John was seen using two Marshall Silver Jubilees at the same time on stage (see Slane Castle footage). As explained by John’s guitar tech, Dave Lee, this second amp was used specifically just for the overdriven tone.
The second Silver Jubilee was a stand alone amp. Usually with no effects. And set to an overdriven tone. Almost always played with the black Les Paul. We called that the ‘Slash Rig’. I remember during a show in LA, John playing that rig, and Slash standing right in front of him in the audience watching. I remember thinking ‘I wonder if Slash realizes he inspired that rig?’ Ironic.”
Fender Blackface ShowmanContinue Reading 1999
Possibly used during the studio recording of Scar Tissue and Otherside, 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 – Bizarre 1999 Germany]
(talking about Otherside: ) That was a ’55 Gretsch White Falcon through the Showman and a Marshall 4×12 cabinet. For the breakdown section, I used a ’61 Gibson SG Custom into a cranked Marshall JCM 800. I think that’s the best kind of distortion – a humbucker into a Marshall, like Eddie Van Halen.
(talking about Scar Tissue: ) That was my ’55 Strat with the maple neck – most of the basic tracks were recorded with that guitar. I think I ran it through the Showman because the Marshall wasn’t clean enough.
From the second quote, it is safe to guess that the Showman was actually John’s main amp on the album for the clean sound.
Marshall Major 200W (Model 1967)Continue Reading 1999
Used on By the Way and Stadium Arcadium as his main amp both in the studio and on stage – here paired with a Marshall Silver Jubilee 2555. But prior to that, it seems that this was John’s main amp during the Californication tour, used together again with a Marshall Silver Jubilee, and a Fender Dual Showman.
One thing to point out here is that John said that he used an old ’65 Marshall on Californication. Knowing that the Marshall Major 200w was first introduced in 1967, he’s must’ve clearly been referring to his 1965 Marshall JTM-45.
Fender Silverface Dual Showman (Head)Continue Reading 1999
This amp seemed to have been used for the entirety of the Californication tour, paired with a Marshall Silver Jubilee and a Major Major 200W. It was abandoned by the time the band went on the By The Way tour in mid-2002, and since then John resorted to using Marshall amps exclusively on stage.
Based on the photos and statements from John, he also used a Fender Showman amp in the studio for Scar Tissue and Otherside. But, based on the photos, this was not the same amp that John used live, because that amp has a black plate and brown grill cloth, while the tour amp has a silver grill cloth, and likely, a silver plate (better photos are needed in order to confirm this).
John Frusciante's Effects
Ibanez CS5 Super ChorusContinue Reading
John was seen using this pedal on a photo taken on January 26, 1990, in Kawasaki, Japan. As far as the exact model of the pedal, although some sources claim it’s a CS5 Chorus, it seems impossible to tell for sure based on the photo below.
The label does look purple on the photo, but the whole stage is basically the same color, probably because of the stage lights. So even though it’s possible that it’s a CS5 (purple label), it could also be an Ibanez Powerlead (pink-ish label), or even one of the pedals with a blue label, like the flanger or a phaser. There were a ton of these pedals all looking pretty much the same aside from the label, and it’s impossible to tell anything for sure.
Be that as it may, given that the photo was taken in Japan, and Ibanez is a Japanese company, it could be that this was simply something that John pickup up while being there. It was not seen on any other occasion.21990
Ibanez WH-10 V1 WahContinue Reading
This is John’s main Wah pedal, and the one that he has been using consistently with the Peppers, ever since joining the band. 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 pedal because it has a wider range than the others. I use a Fuzzface and a Boss distortion pedal, and an MXR phase shifter, and that’s about it.
As far as the origin story, John was given this pedal by Ibanez, alongside two guitars, all of which he used for a brief time when he first joined the band in 1988. He ended up smashing the guitars and keeping the wah.
When I first joined the Chili Peppers Ibanez was really friendly and gave me the wah pedal along with two or three guitars. I played the guitars for a while but the band—by which I mean Anthony and Flea—was totally against it, and so when I switched to playing Fender Stratocasters I smashed the Ibanez guitars on stage just to make them happy—but I definitely kept the wah pedal!31990
Boss CE-1 Chorus EnsembleContinue Reading 1990
John used this pedal from around 1990, all the way until his departure from the Peppers in 2010, and again in 2022 for the Unlimited Love tour. 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 live, the Boss CE-1 was used for the same purpose, although here splitting the signal between a Marshall Major and a Marshall Silver Jubilee amp (John’s usual live setup).
I use a Boss Distortion pedal, an Ibanez wah-wah, and a big old ugly Boss chorus pedal.
Another pedal is a Boss Chorus Ensemble, which I use to split the signal in my rig.
Dallas/Dunlop Fuzz FaceContinue Reading
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 Blood Sugar Sex Magik 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 model or a newer one.
I have an Ibanez wah-wah pedal, because it has a wider range than the others. I use a Fuzzface and a Boss distortion pedal, and an MXR phase shifter, and that’s about it.
As always, if you happen to come across any photos, or you know more about the subject, please be sure to leave a comment below.21991
Boss DS-2 Turbo DistortionContinue Reading 1991
This has been one of the longest-running pedals in John’s rig. 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 the Peppers. This includes the band’s newest release, Unlimited Love (see John Frusciante’s 2022 Pedalboard).
I have an Ibanez wah-wah pedal, because it has a wider range than the others. I use a Fuzzface and a Boss distortion pedal, and an MXR phase shifter, and that’s about it.
(mainly in reference to ‘The Empyrean’ solo album:) I use the Boss Turbo Distortion pretty regularly, and an Electro-Harmonix English Muff’n tube fuzz, which has really extreme EQ and a big, thick, meaty sound.
MXR Phase 90Continue Reading 1991
First 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 shifter exclusively, but it seems to have been on John’s pedalboard most of the time during the Californication tour at least. He seemed to have switched to a Moog MF 103 Phaser during the By The Way tour. But, in 2022 during the Unlimited Love tour, he went back to using the MXR (see John Frusciante’s 2022 Pedalboard).
I have an Ibanez wah-wah pedal, because it has a wider range than the others. I use a Fuzzface and a Boss distortion pedal, and an MXR phase shifter, and that’s about it.
DOD Stereo ChorusContinue Reading
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 not mention the exact model, the most likely one is the FX65.
I used two Marshalls: a guitar head for edge and a bass head for punch and low end. I split the signal with a DOD stereo chorus pedal.
Besides that, it is possible that John also used this pedal on Under the Bridge during the closing section, although that could’ve also been a Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble that he used around the same time. Also, given how the DOD pedal was never really seen on John’s pedalboard, and the CE-1 was used even before the BSSM sessions, there is a slight chance that John gave wrong information in that interview and that he actually used the Boss pedal (same can be achieved with both).
Another pedal is a Boss Chorus Ensemble, which I use to split the signal in my rig.21991
Boss FZ-3 FuzzContinue Reading
This fuzz pedal was used by John during the early part of the Californication tour, circa 1999 (as seen on his pedalboard during live performances). It was also seen on the photo published by the Guitar Player magazine in September 1999, apparently taken during the studio session. This obviously means that the pedal was possibly used on Californication, although it is unknown on which songs specifically.
However, without any direct quotes from John on the subject, it is also possible that the Boss FZ-3 was used simply for the purpose of reproducing the sound of the BSSM era (during which John likely used a Dunlop Fuzz Face).11999
“Black Russian” Big Muff Pi V8Continue Reading 1999
This pedal was seen on photos taken of John’s pedal board during the Californication tour. It is unknown at this point for which exact songs he used it live, and whether it was used at all in the studio.
In case you’re curious about the pedal, according to this page about History of the Russian Big Muffs, this V8 version that John used is the last of the original Russian-produced Big Muffs (the pedal was reissued in 2017). It was made in St. Petersburg, in a smaller enclosure than the previous versions, and one could only power it through a 9V battery (no actual power input like on modern pedals).
MXR Phase 100Continue Reading 1999
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 a way to approach that solo, and the Phase 100 worked out well.
However, during the Californication tour, John was seen using an MXR Phase 90 instead, meaning that he opted to buy this pedal for himself since Phase 100 was only borrowed for the sessions.
DigiTech PDS 1002 Digital DelayContinue Reading
John started using this pedal during the By The Way tour and had used it consistently until his departure from the band. However, during that same time, he also used the Line DL-4 Delay Modeler, so it’s unclear when exactly he used each, and for which purpose.12001
Line 6 FM4 Filter ModelerContinue Reading 2001
This pedal was first used by John probably sometime during the By The Way studio session, at least based on the fact that he was seen using it during the album tour.
One song from that album that almost certainly is recorded with this pedal is Throw Away Your Television.
Line 6 DL-4 Delay ModelerContinue Reading 2001
This pedal first appeared on John’s pedalboard sometime during the By The Way era, circa 2001. It was usually situated right next to a Line 6 FM4 Filter Modeler, which looks somewhat similar to it, apart from the fact that it’s purple. The DL-4 seemed to have been used all the way until John’s second departure from the band, and it was not seen again in 2022 when he came back to the band.
Based on the fact that John started using it during the By The Way tour, it is likely that the pedal is heard on at least Don’t Forget Me if not all the tracks that have some sort of delay effect. However, since at the same time he also used a DigiTech PDS 1002 Digital Delay, it’s hard to tell for sure which delay pedal was used on which song.
Boss FV-50L Volume PedalContinue Reading 2001
This pedal was occasionally seen on John’s pedalboard mainly during the By The Way tour, which makes sense since it was most likely utilized on Venice Queen. That is the only song that comes to mind to feature volume effect, mostly heard in the intro.
However, it seems that in most of the live versions of Venice Queen, for instance, at the Slane Castle, John actually uses the volume knob on his guitar to achieve the effect. So, it’s unclear whether he used the Boss FV-50L volume pedal just in the beginning, or he used it for a completely different purpose/song.
EHX Big Muff PiContinue Reading 2002
This pedal seemed to have directly replaced the “Black Russian” Big Muff Pi that John was seen using on the Californication tour. The US version of the Big Muff Pi was then used during the By The Way tour, and likely during at least a part of the Stadium Arcadium tour.
Moog MF-103 12-Stage PhaserContinue Reading 2002
Chronologically looking, and based on the photos, this is the first Moog pedal that John ever had on his pedalboard. It first appeared around the By the Way era. Later on, during Stadium Arcadium tours, John had around eight or nine different Moog pedals sitting on his pedalboard.
The Moog Moogerfooger MF-103 12-Stage Phaser seemed to have directly replaced the MXR Phase 90 which John was seen using during the Californication tour.
MXR Micro AmpContinue Reading 2002
Chronologically looking, John first used the MXR Micro Amp as part of his pedalboard during the By the Way tour. It appears that he used it all the way until his departure from the band after Stadium Arcadium.
As far as usage and impact on the sound, unfortunately, there’s doesn’t seem to be a single interview out there where John goes into specifics about the Micro Amp.
What is most likely is that he used it to crunch up his clean tone. Most noticeable perhaps is the song Can’t Stop where the guitar is driven almost to the point of breakup. You can hear this often even in his solo performances during RHCP concerts, where the guitar sounds clean but as if being pushed to the limit.
Boss PSM-5Continue Reading 2002
John used this pedal briefly during the By the Way tour. According to his tech, Dave Lee, the pedal was used to activate three distortion pedals at once.
It was used to turn on distortion pedals at the same time. I believe three different pedals. It was also used as a power source for some pedals. At least that’s what I remember.
It would be interesting to find out why exactly John felt the need to use three distortions at once – so if you have any idea or happen to remember him using them (for instance at Slane) leave a comment below.
Fender '63 Reverb TankContinue Reading 2002
This reverb tank was seen in front of John’s pedalboard during the By the Way tour. At the same time, he has used the EHX Holy Grail reverb, so it is unknown on which songs specifically he used each.
EHX Holy Grail V1 ReverbContinue Reading
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.
Apparently, the way John had it set up most of the time was that it stud right between his Boss CE-1 Chorus and his Marshall Major. To remind you, in case you haven’t read about the CE-1 – he used the Boss to basically split his signal between a Marshall Major (clean) and Marshall Silver Jubilee (crunch sound) [thanks Beardog for pointing out the previous mixup]
Based on this, the Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb played a major part in how John achieved his clean sound – or at least it did when it was used in this fashion.12002
Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-WahContinue Reading
John used this pedal briefly around late 2004/early 2005. It’s unknown for which purpose he had it on his pedalboard since he used his Ibanez WH-10 Wah pretty much exclusively throughout his RHCP years.
One possibility could be that he was having issues with his WH-10 towards the end of the By the Way tour (which is a vintage model and hard to find replacements for), and the 535Q Cry Baby was there just in case he needed it.12004
EHX POGContinue Reading 2005
John used this pedal on the outro part on Snow (Hey-Oh), and on the second chorus of 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 the song I created an articulated arpeggio using three distorted guitar parts, each playing one note of the arpeggio recorded onto a separate track.
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante, by BARRY CLEVELAND, September 20, 2006
It’s unknown at this point whether John used the Nano POG or the full-sized version which has much more functionality. Based on John’s quote, the latter is way more likely.
Moog MF-105 MuRFContinue Reading 2005
According to an interview John gave to Guitar Player magazine in 2006, he used the Moog MuRF on the solo for Tell Me Baby.
The second verse begins with a couple of guitars playing in harmony. After they were recorded, I ran them through a Moog MF-105 MuRF (Multiple Resonance Filter Array) pedals six times and recorded the results on individual tracks.
The effect was also featured in the second verse of Dani California (listen to the video below).
EHX Electric Mistress FlangerContinue Reading
According to John, this pedal can be heard on the bridge section of the song Hard to Concentrate, from RHCP’s 2006 album Stadium Arcadium.
The EHX Electric Mistress Flanger was also allegedly used on the By the Way album – but further research is needed on this.
Please note that John most likely used an older version of the pedal, which now you can only buy from second-hand stores since EHX replaced it with a newer version.12005
Moog CP-251 Control ProcessorContinue Reading 2005
John used the Moog CP-251 Control Processor starting with the Stadium Arcadium tour. He usually had two of CP-251s on his pedalboard, each controlling one of his numerous Moog pedals.
Moog MF-105 MuRFContinue Reading 2005
As is the case with most of John’s Moog pedals, he started using the MF-105 during the Stadium Arcadium tour. Unfortunately, it is unknown for which exact purpose he used this pedal, so if you happen to come across an interview in which talks about it, be sure to leave a comment below.
Moog Expression PedalContinue Reading 2005
John used a couple of these pedals throughout the Stadium Arcadium tour. In case you’re unfamiliar with the expression pedals – basically, they don’t do anything on their own. You use them to control parameters on other devices (John, for example, had around eight different Moog pedals on his pedalboard) such as modulation, delay, volume, etc.
Moog MF-101 Low Pass FilterContinue Reading 2005
This pedal is most notably heard on Dani California during the second part of each verse (basically, that “wobbly” sound you hear starting from around 0:45).
Worth noting is that during the studio recording of the song, it seems that John had a bit more complicated setup than what he used on stage:
Frusciante uses the audio from the tape to trigger an envelope generator or ADSR in his modular synthesizer. The envelope generator responds to the playing dynamics and uses that information to dynamically control a low-pass filter. Unlike typical auto-Wah, this arrangement allows them to produce considerably more complex filter effects than simple Wah sounds.
Regarding stage use, it seems likely that John had the MF-101 Low Pass Filter hooked up to a Moog CP-251 Control Processor, which has an LFO control. Based on this YouTube tutorial (How to get the Dani California Filter Effect – 3 Ways – The Frusciante Way Ep. 5), that seems to result in a pretty spot-on tone.
Moog MF-102 Ring ModulatorContinue Reading
This is one of the weirder pedals on John’s Stadium Arcadium era pedalboard. First, because it’s such a unique sounding pedal by itself, and second, because John never really appeared to have used it – at least not live.
To see what exactly this pedal does and how it sounds, check out this YouTube video MOOG Ring Modulator MF-102 guitar effects pedal demo by gearmanndude. If you gave that a listen, and you can recall hearing something similar played by John, be sure to leave a comment below.12005
Guyatone Flip VT-X Vintage Tremolo
DigiTech Whammy 4 Pitch ShifterContinue Reading
Used very briefly towards the latter part of the Stadium Arcadium tour circa 2007, most notably at the Coachella festival (see comments for more).22007
fOXX Fuzz Wah VolumeContinue Reading
This is one of the pedals that John used very briefly during the Stadium Arcadium tour, for an unknown reason/purpose. The pedal is kind of weird piece of equipment, as it’s sort of a volume pedal and a wah 2 in 1 deal. On top of that, it also has a built-in fuzz and an octave effect.
As always, if you happen to come across a video of John actually using it in a live setting, be sure to leave a comment below.12007
EHX English Muff’n Tube DistortionContinue Reading 2007
This pedal was first seen on John’s pedalboard around late 2007, and it seemed to have directly replaced the Big Muff Pi – which John used from around the By The Way release.
Based on the fact that Stadium Arcadium came out on May 9, 2006, it’s likely that during the studio sessions John used the Big Muff. The choice to switch to the English Muff’n at the end of the Stadium Arcadium World Tour is more or less a mystery (if you happen to find an interview in which he mentions the pedal, be sure to leave a comment below).
Boss SD-1 Super OverdriveContinue Reading 2022
John added this pedal to this pedalboard before the Unlimited Love tour in 2022. As explained by John in the Howards Stern interview, he uses this pedal for a “less overdriven” tone, while he continues to use his Boss DS-2 to achieve a “more distorted” sound.
Based on Justin Jeske’s analysis, John used this pedal on the chorus and on the solo in the song “Black Summer”. and likely on “It’s Only Natural”.
MXR Super Badass Variac FuzzContinue Reading 2022
This is one of the pedals that John started using on the Unlimited Love tour, and it has been his main fuzz pedal since he rejoined the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2021. This is definitely one of the pedals that John uses most extensively, and you’ll often hear it in choruses and solos, often paired with a Boss OD-1.
MXR DynaCompContinue Reading 2022
John started using this pedal after he re-joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2021. According to an interview he gave to the Total Guitar magazine, the pedal was used to get more sustain out of his clean sound.
Sometimes the Dyna Comp was just exactly what I needed in terms of getting the right amount of sustain on clean things, and having a more Tatty-like kind of sound.
Total Guitar, May 2022
MXR M300 ReverbContinue Reading 2022
John started using this reverb after he re-joined the Peppers in 2021. It was first seen on a photo taken of his pedalboard at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles on April 3, 2022 (see John Frusciante’s 2022 Pedalboard).
In the May 2022 interview with Total Guitar, John mentioned that he uses two of these on live performances, although in the studio, he used real room reverb.
That was on almost all the time [at rehearsals]. The other is set for a more long kind of reverb.
Total Guitar – May 2022
Micro-Tron IV Mu-TronContinue Reading 2022
This pedal was seen on John’s pedalboard at a gig that the Red Hot Chili Peppers played at the Apollo Theater on September 13, 2022 (for images see John Frusciante’s Unlimited Love/Dream Canteen Pedalboard). This is the only time the pedal was seen on his pedalboard, so it’s unknown precisely for what purpose he was using it.
For whatever reason, John removed the foot switch labeled “Up and Down” from the pedal. This switch basically allows you to switch between an auto-wah and a down-swoop sound.
John Frusciante's Strings
D'Addario Bronze Acoustic Guitar StringsContinue Reading 1998
There is very little information out there regarding John’s choice of acoustic guitar strings. D’Addario’s used to have some on the old version of their website, on which it was listed that John used their EJ16 light set. The gauges are of this set .012, .016 unwound, and .024, .032, .042, .053 wound.
But, John’s guitar tech seems to remember otherwise. In the comments section of his own video on the topic of how he strung John’s guitars, he recalls using 10s. This would be the D’Addario EJ10 set.
D’Addario EXL110 Electric Guitar StringsContinue Reading 1998
John uses D’Addario EXL110 strings (.010-.046) exclusively on all of his Stratocasters. One guitar worth mentioning where he uses a different set is John’s 1955 Gretsch White Falcon, on which he prefers a heavier set – which is likely the D’Addario EXL145 (starting with a .012 string on the high E)
Also, on occasion, John would use a .11 string on his high E. The specifics behind when and why he did this are at this time unknown.
The EXL110 strings are among the popular electric guitar strings out there. They have a nickel-plated steel string wound around a carbon steel core. They are also very versatile, and for example – next to John, someone like Joe Satriani is also known for using them.
John Frusciante's Accessories
Levy's Guitar StrapContinue Reading
John most often uses Levy’s MSSC8-BLK straps. Interestingly enough, these are regular cotton straps and are relatively cheap when you compare them to the more premium leather straps. For some reason, however, John warmed up to these straps. and used them on every single one of his guitars.
Also, he sometimes uses Guitar Centre straps, which are basically the same thing but with the GC logo on the leather patch instead of Levy’s.61998
Schaller Strap LocksContinue Reading 1998
Based on photos, John had Schaller strap locks installed on all of his guitars. These are by many considered to be one of the best strap lock designs at a reasonable price.
One thing worth pointing out is that in order to install these, John had to remove the original vintage strap pins from his guitars, and screw in those supplied by Schaller. Just as a fun fact, the original 60s strap buttons go for at least $150, depending on their state – which is funny considering they are just two tiny pieces of metal. This just goes to show that most of the 60s Strat fame is due to vanity and the fact that there are fewer and fewer of them out there, and not just for their supposed superior quality over the modern Strat.
Dunlop Tortex 0.60mm PicksContinue Reading
From the time John re-joined the Peppers in 1998, he’s been using the orange 0.60mm thickness Dunlop Tortex picks. According to his guitar tech, Dave Lee, John was asked by Dunlop whether he’d like his own custom design printed on the picks, which John felt was a bit too much for his own personal taste. However, eventually, a custom design was agreed upon.
For picks, John uses Jim Dunlop .60mm. They’re the orange ones. There’s a funny story attached to these picks. The guy that makes them was asking if John wanted a personalized one and John felt kind of funny about that, kind of like it was a little too rockstar-ish, y’know? So when we were in South America we were in an airport and this kid freaked out about the band and then he looked at me and said, You are Dave Lee, guy of John. The story got back to the pick maker guy and he had some picks made up with that on.11998
Ernie Ball Polypro Guitar StrapContinue Reading 2020
John was seen using this guitar strap on one of the more recent videos of him playing filmed at Green Acres Estate, Beverly Hills, CA, on February 8, 2020.
ILITCH BPNCS Hum-Canceling SystemContinue Reading
In the May 2022 issue of Total Guitar magazine, John mentioned that he installed an Ilitch Hum-Canceling System into his 1962 Fender Stratocaster.
The reason for this mod could be that he went back to the original pickups in his Strat, and he felt they were too noisy compared to the modern Fenders which were believed to be in his Strat prior to this. You can read more about the pickups in his ’62 Strat here – John Frusciante’s 1962 Fender Stratocaster.
ILITCH offers a few different versions of its hum-canceling system (see ILITCH hum canceling systems for single-coil pickups). Based on the fact that John’s guitar now has a backplate, which it didn’t have before, he most likely went for the ILITCH BPNCS (Backplate Noise Canceling System).12022
Lekato Guitar StrapContinue Reading 2022
John on the most recent European leg of the tour (Unlimited Love Tour 2022) used a Lekato strap with its logo removed replacing his usual choice of Ernie Ball, Guitar Center, and Levy’s straps. The strap is known for its moisture-wicking neoprene sponge padding which helps relieve shoulder fatigue.
Also worth pointing out – the reason why John now wears his guitars higher than usual might be the fact that this particular Lekato strap is not highly extensive, even at its maximum length.
This gear list is a result of years of research and constant updates. It's a hobby project with the goal to eventually have the most complete and thorough gear list on the web - but that is only achievable with your help!
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