John Frusciante’s Guitars and Gear

John Anthony Frusciante was born on March 5th, 1970. He is best known as the guitarist of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, with whom he had been for a number of years and recorded five studio albums from 1988 until 1992 and again from 1998 until 2009. Frusciante also has an active solo career, having released eleven albums under his own name, two with Josh Klinghoffer and Joe Lally as Ataxia, and was a studio member of The Mars Volta, as performing guitarist and an occasional live member from 2002-2008.

Red Hot Chili Peppers perform at Voodoo Music Experience 2006, New Orleans. Photo by: Chad Carson – Flickr

As far as his gear goes – John relied heavily on his 1962 Fender Stratocaster on the last three albums he did with Peppers. He also used a 1955 maple neck Stratocaster extensively on the “Californication” album and a couple of different pre-CBS Strats on “Stadium Arcadium”. Two of his main guitars are equipped with Seymour Duncan SSL-1 pickups, and he mostly relies on his vintage Marshall Major 200W amp when it comes to the sound, although he did use a Fender Showman for some clean stuff previously.

Electric Guitars

date_range 1988

1986/87 Kramer Pacer Custom II

This was the only guitar that John had with him when he first joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in 1988. He only used it for a few gigs with the Peppers [Red Hot Chili Peppers John Anson Ford Theater October 8, 1988], and for some of the early gigs with HATE (sideband project with Flea). This particular […]

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date_range 1988

Ibanez RG760

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

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date_range 1989

Ibanez RG750

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

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date_range 1989

1968 Fender Stratocaster

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

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date_range 1989

1970s Les Paul Custom

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

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date_range 1990

1966 Fender Jaguar (Under the Bridge)

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

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date_range 1991

Fender Stratocaster Fretless

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

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date_range 1991

1990s Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

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

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date_range 1991

1958 Fender Stratocaster (BSSM)

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

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Blue Fender Jaguar
date_range 1993

1960s Fender Jaguar (Blue)

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

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date_range 1997

1962 Fender Jaguar (Red)

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

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date_range 1998

1962 Fender Stratocaster

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

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date_range 1998

1955 Fender Stratocaster

From the time he came back to the band up until the release of the album “Californication” in 1999, John acquired a good amount of new guitars. Among them was a 1955 Fender Stratocaster – the only maple necked guitar John would ever use. The guitar is finished in two-tone sunburst, and as said – […]

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date_range 1998

1960s Fender Telecaster Custom

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

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date_range 1998

1955 Gretsch White Falcon

John used this guitar on “Otherside”, “Californication”, and for a few sections on “This Velvet Glove”. He usually played the guitar through a Fender Showman and a Marshall 4×12 Cabinet, although he did switch to a 1961 Gibson SG Custom plugged into a Marshall JCM800 for solo and outro on the “Otherside”. John found this guitar through Vincent Gallo, and […]

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date_range 1999

1956 Gibson ES-175D

John found this guitar through Vincent Gallo sometime in 1999. It features dark sunburst finish, two PAF pickups, and a full depth hollow body making it a semi-acoustic guitar. John had .013 strings on this guitar, which are heavier even than the ones he’d use on his Gretsch (he uses .012s on that guitar, and .010s on his Strats). The guitar […]

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1963 Fender Stratocaster Red
date_range 2005

1961 Fender Stratocaster (Fiesta Red)

This is one of the guitars John bought just prior to Stadium Arcadium, most likely to have something on hands available as a backup for his 1962 Stratocaster. This Stratocaster was made in 1961, and features fiesta red finish and a rosewood fretboard. The pickups in it are most likely original, although there’s a possibility that John replaced them with Seymour Duncan […]

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date_range 2005

1963 Fender Stratocaster (White)

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

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date_range 2006

1959 Fender Stratocaster (Fretless)

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

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Acoustic Guitars

date_range 1998

1940s Martin 0-15

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 […]

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Amps

date_range 1990

Marshall JCM800

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

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date_range 1991

Fender H.O.T. Combo Amp

John used this small practice combo amp used for some overdubs on 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 […]

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date_range 1991

Marshall Bass Head (BSSM)

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

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date_range 1998

Marshall Major 200W (Model 1967)

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

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date_range 1998

Marshall Silver Jubilee

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

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date_range 1999

1965 Marshall JTM-45

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

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date_range 1999

Fender Blackface Showman

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

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date_range 1999

Fender Silverface Dual Showman (Head)

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

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Strings

date_range 1998

D’Addario EXL110 Electric Guitar Strings

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 […]

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Accessories

date_range 1998

Levy's Guitar Strap

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.

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date_range 1998

Schaller Strap Locks

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, […]

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date_range 1998

Dunlop Tortex 0.60mm Picks

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, […]

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