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
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.
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.
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).
Chronological list of Guitars, Amps, Effects, and Accessories used by John Frusciante
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John Frusciante's Electric Guitars
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 guitar is somewhat of a mystery. What we do know is that the guitar had a […]
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, the theme of the stickers, and the fact that the guitar was red – we’re […]
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 around the same time that the band was working on ‘Mother’s Milk’, it is possible […]
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 4, 1990, and it was seen in the music video for the song ‘Knock Me […]
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 salt. He could’ve also just taken this guitar on the tour, and used something completely […]
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 known as Sherwood green color and features two single-coil pickups, rosewood neck with white binding […]
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 a complete removal of frets. Well, the frets on this guitar were completely shot, so […]
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 members focusing on working on Blood Sugar Sex Magik instead. The guitar most likely wasn’t a vintage […]
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 (see documentary Funky Monks), we know that none […]
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) and no neck binding when compared to John’s other Jaguar, plus it had some kind of a […]
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 […]
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 […]
From the time he came back to the band up until the release of the album “Californication” in 1999, John acquired a good amount of new guitars. Among them was a 1955 Fender Stratocaster – the only maple necked guitar John would ever use. The guitar is finished in two-tone sunburst, and as said – features one-piece maple neck. When John bought the guitar sometime in 1998/1999 the pickups were […]
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 slide on a Telecaster into my Fender Showman amp. My favorite slide guitarist is Snake […]
John used this guitar on “Otherside”, “Californication”, and for a few sections on “This Velvet Glove”. He usually played the guitar through a Fender Showman and a Marshall 4×12 Cabinet, although he did switch to a 1961 Gibson SG Custom plugged into a Marshall JCM800 for solo and outro on the “Otherside”. John found this guitar through Vincent Gallo, and the inspiration for it supposedly comes from Matthew Ashman who played one in his new wave band […]
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 don’t know whether the guitar was actually used during the recording session for ‘Fortune Faded’, […]
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 was used on the solo for “Get on Top”, and on some parts of “Porcelain”. You […]
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 […]
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 to 1960s Fender Duo-Sonic finished in white, featuring two single-coil pickups, and a stop-tail bridge. […]
This is one of the guitars John bought just prior to Stadium Arcadium, most likely to have something on hands available as a backup for his 1962 Stratocaster. This Stratocaster was made in 1961, and features fiesta red finish and a rosewood fretboard. The pickups in it are most likely original, although there’s a possibility that John replaced them with Seymour Duncan SSL-1s like in his two main Strats. John used this guitar quite a lot during […]
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 a rosewood fingerboard. It’s also John’s only Strat that has a floating tremolo bridge – meaning […]
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 […]
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 1969 model with two PAF humbuckers without the metal pickup covers, and except for this, […]
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 […]
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 may, by 2009 John converted this guitar to a Roland GR-300 guitar synthesizer. This basically required doing […]
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 time that John appeared with this guitar was during the music video for the song […]
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 ’69, but I’m not sure what years the ES-175 and 335 are from. I don’t […]
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 […]
John was seen playing this guitar circa 1991, on a photograph taken by Karen Miller (we’re working on getting the photo to display it 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 […]
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 […]
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 to grainy to tell anything for sure, and it is more likely that the bedroom guitar from ‘Funky Monks’ is actually a Martin D-18, […]
John borrowed this Martin guitar from Anthony when the band started working on Californication, and eventually it sort of just became his guitar. He used it on nearly all of the acoustic stuff he did with the Peppers and on his solo albums. 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 […]
John played this Maton acoustic guitar during a part of the Californication tour. The first time that the guitar was seen was on the photos published in the Guitar Player Magazine in September 1999. The photo shows 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 October 29, 2000. This was also […]
According to a June 2003 interview published in Guitarist Magazine, all the acoustic guitars used on 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 ocassions at the […]
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].
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]
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 photos is that John’s used a number of different JCM800s, mostly those with vertical inputs. […]
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 point the amp was halfway broken, and John was already thinking about a replacement. As […]
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 things, I just went direct into the board – which is like my favorite guitar […]
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 […]
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 Silver Jubilee 25/55. I used a real old ’65 Marshall. I also used a 200-watt […]
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, John was seen using two Marshall Silver Jubilees at the same time on stage (see Slane […]
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 recording engineer, Jim Scott. I like Jags – they get a really cool, cheap sound. […]
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 – Bizarre 1999 Germany] (talking about ‘Otherside’) That was a ’55 Gretsch White Falcon through the […]
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.
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.
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 pedal, because it has a wider range than the others. I use a Fuzzface and […]
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 live, the Boss CE-1 was used for the same purpose, although here splitting the signal […]
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 model, or something like a 1990s Dunlop JH-2 Fuzz Face. I have an Ibanez wah-wah […]
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 the Peppers. I have an Ibanez wah-wah pedal, because it has a wider range than […]
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’ pedalboard most of the time […]
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 […]
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 […]
This pedal was seen on photos taken of John’s pedalboard 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 […]
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. [Guitar Player […]
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 and the Clean Sound Apparently, the way John had it set-up most of the time […]
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 the song I created an articulated arpeggio using three distorted guitar parts, each playing one […]
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 harmony. After they were recorded, I ran them through a Moog MF-105 MuRF (Multiple Resonance […]
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 version of the pedal, which now you can only buy from second-hand stores since EHX […]
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) 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 […]
John used 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.
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 […]
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 […]