John Frusciante

Summary of John’s Gear

John’s choice of equipment is best separated into two groups. There’s the gear used in his first stint with the band and during the BSSM era. And, there’s the stuff he used once he re-joined the Peppers in the late 90s.

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

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

John uses the D’Addario EXL110 on most of his electric guitars, including the 1962 Fender Stratocaster. On the Gretsch however, he is said to use a heaver set, the EXL145.

D'Addario EXL110 Guitar StringsD’Addario EXL110 Guitar StringsAmazon.com Check price

Other notable guitars from this period include a 1955 Fender Stratocaster and a 1960s Fender Telecaster Custom. This Strat has a maple neck, and it’s his second-most used guitar, and Tele he uses often on “Can’t Stop”. Also, worth mentioning is the 1955 Gretsch White Falcon, which John considers to be “the nicest guitar” he owns. This guitar he used to record “Otherside”, and “Californication”.

On amps, ever since the release of Californication, John relied on a combination of a Marshall Major 200W and a Marshall Silver Jubilee. But, in the studio, 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. He also uses 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.

As far as accessories, for picks, John uses the orange Dunlop Tortex .60mms. Also, in the past, he used Levy’s-made guitar straps, but since the release of Unlimited Love, he seemed to have switched to Lekato straps. Also since the release of the newest album, John started using the ILITCH BPNCS Hum-Canceling System on his ’62 Stratocaster at least.

Dunlop .60mm Guitar PicksDunlop .60mm Guitar PicksAmazon.com Check price

List of Guitars, Amps, Effects, and Accessories used by John Frusciante

Sort by:

Electric Guitars

Unknown Stratocaster

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…

John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers | Broken Record

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.

Read More

1980s Performance Custom

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.

As far as the exact model, for the longest time, the best match seemed to have been a Kramer Pacer Custom II (therefore the wrong URL on this page). As one of our readers pointed out via email, this seems to be the only model with an HSS config where the humbucker isn’t slanted like for instance on the Striker model.

Read More

Ibanez RG760

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.

John Frusciante with an Ibanez guitar, the late 80s. Photo provided by a reader.

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. [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.

Read More

Ibanez RG750

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.

Red Hot Chili Peppers performing at VCU. Photo credit: VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives
Read More

1968 Fender Stratocaster

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).

John playing his 1968 Fender Stratocaster in Amsterdam, on August 26, 1989. Photo source: YouTube – Red Hot Chili Peppers – 1989-08-26, Dam Square, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Full HD

According to John, his 1968 Stratocaster was stolen sometime in early 1990.

Read More

1970s Les Paul Custom

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.

Read More

1966 Fender Jaguar (Under the Bridge)

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.

Guitar Player (USA), October 1991

John’s Jaguar was finished in what’s known as Sherwood green color and features two single-coil pickups, a rosewood neck with white binding and dot inlays, and a floating tremolo. The guitar had a good amount of paint cracks and scratches on it, and the neck itself had a couple of dead spots – so perhaps that’s one of the reasons John never really played this guitar live.

Read More

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 a 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 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 has 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

Read More

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 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 a late 80s or early 90s one.

Read More

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 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.

Guitar Player (USA), October 1991

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.

John playing a rosewood neck Stratocaster during the recording of ‘Soul to Squeeze’ from the BSSM album. Source: Funky Monks documentary (1991)
Read More

1960s Fender Jaguar (Blue)

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.

Read More

1964 Fender Jaguar (Sunburst)

John purchased this guitar on February 26, 1997, at Guitars R US store in Hollywood, together with a Gibson L-0 acoustic.

Original receipt from Guitars R US. Credit: rhcpsessions.com

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).

John playing the sunburst Fender Jaguar, May 1, 1997. Photo originally posted on Imgur – see 1997-05-01 Mississippi Nights, St. Louis, MO. Credit uknown.
Read More

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 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.

The major problem was John didn’t even have a guitar to his name. So we went over to the Guitar Center, and I bought him a great old ’62 Stratocaster. John was thrilled by the idea of being back in the band, but he was also scared because he hadn’t played the guitar for a very long time.

Scar Tissue, Anthony Kiedis

I bought that (the red Fender Jaguar) at a guitar store, I think it was Voltage Guitars on Sunset, in 1997. I didn’t have a guitar and then I got some money and that was my Christmas present to myself. Then when the guys asked me to rejoin the band I said that I really need a Stratocaster. So Anthony lent me some money and we went to Guitar Centre and I got one with the rosewood neck. It’s a ’62 and I used that one on practically every track on By The Way.

Guitarist (UK), June 2003 – Universally Speaking

Read More

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 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.

The major problem was John didn’t even have a guitar to his name. So we went over to the Guitar Center, and I bought him a great old ’62 Stratocaster.

Scar Tissue, Anthony Kiedis

I bought that (the red Fender Jaguar) at a guitar store, I think it was Voltage Guitars on Sunset, in 1997. I didn’t have a guitar and then I got some money and that was my Christmas present to myself. Then when the guys asked me to rejoin the band I said that I really need a Stratocaster. So Anthony lent me some money and we went to Guitar Centre and I got one with the rosewood neck. It’s a ’62 and I used that one on practically every track on By The Way.

Guitarist (UK), June 2003 – Universaly Speaking

Frusciante '62 Stratocaster as seen in 1999
Frusciante ’62 Stratocaster as seen in 1999, shortly after he got it. Quite a lot of wear is already present on the guitar at that point.
Read More

1954 Fender Stratocaster

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.

John’s ’54 Stratocaster in 1999, shortly after he acquired it.

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.).

Read More

1960 Fender Telecaster Custom

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.”

Red Hot Once Again!, 1999

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.

Return Of The Prodigal Son, Guitar Player (UK), September 1999

John using his ’60 Fender Stratocaster during the Slane Castle concert.
Read More

1957 Gretsch White Falcon

John used this guitar on OthersideCalifornication, 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 case

John Frusciante playing a Gretsch White Falcon guitar.
Gretsch White Falcon as seen during the intro for the song Californication at the Slane Castle concert.
Read More

1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom

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

Guitar Player (UK), September 1999

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Fortune Faded (YouTube)
Read More

1956 Gibson ES-175D

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.

Guitar World (USA), July 1999

Read More

1963 Fender Stratocaster (white)

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

There’s a cool white early-’60s Strat that 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.

VintageGuitar.com

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).

Rock in Rio 2001
Read More

1999 Fender Silver Sparkle Stratocaster ("Can't Stop")

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.

John Frusciante with the silver Strat.
John with the silver Strat.
Read More

Fender Toronado Deluxe (Orange)

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.

John Frusciante playing an orange Fender Toronado guitar, during the "Can't Stop" music video.
John with the orange Fender Toronado.
Read More

1965 Fender Duo-Sonic

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.

Read More

1961 Fender Stratocaster (Fiesta Red)

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).

John’s Fiesta Red Stratocaster as seen during the Live Earth gig in 2007. Photo source: YouTube
Read More

1961 Fender Stratocaster (White)

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.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Live in Chorzów, July 03, 2007. Image source: YouTube

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).

Read More

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 fretless one.

The 1959 Fender Stratocaster, as seen during the Live La Cigale concert in 2006. Photo source: YouTube

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.

Ned Evett Fretless Guitar Blog: Blue Raga on John Frusciante’s Custom Guitar

Read More

1969 Gibson Les Paul Custom

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.

John Frusciante, Red Hot On The Empyrean

John Frusciante playing his Les Paul Custom, Lollapalooza 2006
Read More

1960s Bartell St. George XK12

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

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.

Read More

1960s Fender Jaguar (white, Roland synth)

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”.

Guitar Player (UK), 1999

Red Hot Chili Peppers, June 16, 1999. – Shoreline Amphitheatre
Read More

1960s Rickenbacker 365 Deluxe

This is one of the guitar photographed during John’s interview with Vintage Guitar magazine in 2009. From the photos, it seems that this is the Deluxe version of the standard 360 model, with added tremolo and white binding on the body’s edge. The guitar was 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.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dani California
Read More

1961 Gibson ES-335

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.

John Frusciante, Red Hot On The Empyrean

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).

Read More

1980 Yamaha SG2000

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

My main guitars are Yamaha SG2000s. My favorite is a purple one from 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.

John Frusciante: War and Peace

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.

John Frusciante on His Latest Solo Effort, ‘Enclosure,’ and Why His Days Onstage are Behind Him

Read More

Acoustic Guitars

Martin D-18

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.

What looks like a Martin D-18 was seen sitting on the floor in John’s bedroom at The Mansion. Photo source: Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Funky Monks” Uncut Full Documentary (1st Edit Uncut with bonus footage)
Read More

Martin 12-String

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.

Guitar One (USA), September 1999

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.

Read More

Martin D-28

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.

Read More

Kay K-230 (VPRO Interview)

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.

John Frusciante, 1994, VPRO Interview

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.

Read More

Gibson L-0 Robert Johnson

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.

Guitars R US receipt. Credit: rhcpsessions.com

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.

John Frusciante, Hollywood Moguls, March 1997. Credit: Unknown.
Read More

1940s/50s Martin 0-15

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.

Guitar One – April 2001

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Road Trippin’. John on a Martin 0-15.

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.

Guitar – March 2001

Read More

Maton CW80C

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.

Embed from Getty Images

Read More

Martin 0-15 #2

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.

Guitar One – April 2001

John at Norman’s Rare Guitars, the early 2000s.

One of those actually belonged to Rick Rubin. Not Anthony. The other one we bought from Norm’s Rare Guitars.

Dave Mail 103: Martin 0-15 vs Taylor 314ce

Read More

Taylor 314ce

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.

John Frusciante playing a Taylor 314ce acoustic guitar during Jonathan Ross Show live performance in 2002.
John playing a Taylor 314ce
Read More

Martin D12-35

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.

Guitar World Acoustic – May 2005

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.

Read More

Amps

Carvin X-100B/X-60B

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].

Read More

Mesa Boogie Strategy 400 Stereo Power Amp

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.

Photo source: Screencap Psychedelic Sexfunk-Live From Heaven

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.

Guitar (UK), February 1991

Read More

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 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.

John playing through a Marshall JCM800 Stack. Photo source: YouTube – Red Hot Chili Peppers 1990, “Night Music”, Chelsea Studios, NYC.

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.

Read More

Unknown Amp

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.

Guitar (UK), February 1991

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.

Read More

Fender H.O.T. Combo Amp

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.

Guitar World (USA), November 1991

Read More

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 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.

Guitar (UK), November 1991

Read More

1965 Marshall JTM-45

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.

Guitar Player (UK), September 1999

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.

Guitar One (USA), September 1999

Obviously, this is conflicting info regarding the bass amp, so it’s unclear whether it was a 100W Super Bass or a 200W model.

Read More

Marshall Silver Jubilee 2555

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 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.”

JF Effects Interviews: Dave Lee (2016)

Read More

Fender Blackface Showman

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.

Guitar Player (UK), September 1999

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.

These Frusciante’s amps were likely photographed during the early Californication era. Photo credit: Uknown
Read More

Marshall Major 200W (Model 1967)

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.

John with the Marshall head behind him, likely the same 200W head he used on By The Way. To the left is the Silver Jubilee, and to the right is the Fender. Photo: EMP Seattle, 2000.

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.

Read More

Fender Silverface Dual Showman (Head)

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.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Seattle 2000 (Experience Music Project). The Silverface Showman is seen sitting on two Marshall cabinets. Photo source: YouTube Screencap

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).

Read More

Effects

Ibanez CS5 Super Chorus

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.

John Frusciante. January 26, 1990, Kawasaki, Japan.

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.

Read More

Ibanez WH-10 V1 Wah

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.

Guitar (UK), February 1991

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!

How John Frusciante Got His Red Hot Wah Tones

Read More

Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble

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.

Guitar Player (USA), April 1990

Another pedal is a Boss Chorus Ensemble, which I use to split the signal in my rig.

Vintage Guitar (USA), April 2009

Read More

Dallas/Dunlop Fuzz Face

John used this pedal early on, circa 1991. It is, unfortunately, unknown to which extent he used it, and if he used it at all during the 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.

Guitar (UK), February 1991

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.

Read More

Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion

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.

Guitar (UK), February 1991

(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.

Vintage Guitar (USA), April 2009

Read More

MXR Phase 90

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.

Guitar (UK), February 1991

Read More

DOD Stereo Chorus

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

Guitar Player (USA), October 1991

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.

Vintage Guitar (USA), April 2009

Read More

Boss FZ-3 Fuzz

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).

Read More

“Black Russian” Big Muff Pi V8

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).

Read More

MXR Phase 100

Among others, this pedal was used at the ending of the song Parallel Universe from the 1999 album, Californication. If you’re listening to the studio version of the song, you start hearing this effect at around 3:20.

I borrowed an MXR Phase 100 from the people who were recording next door. I was looking for a way to approach that solo, and the Phase 100 worked out well.

Guitar Player (UK), September 1999

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.

Read More

DigiTech PDS 1002 Digital Delay

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.

The pedal was also seen on John’s 2022 pedalboard for the Unlimited Love tour (see John Frusciante’s 2022 Pedalboard).

Read More

Line 6 DL-4 Delay Modeler

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.

Read More

Line 6 FM4 Filter Modeler

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.

Read More

Boss FV-50L Volume Pedal

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.

Read More

EHX Big Muff Pi

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.

Sometime around late 2006, people have started noticing that he switched to the English Muff’n, but for the 2022 tour, he seemed to have gone back to the Pi (see John Frusciante’s 2022 Pedalboard).

Read More

Moog MF-103 12-Stage Phaser

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.

Read More

MXR Micro Amp

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.

Read More

Boss PSM-5

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.

Dave Mail 115: PSM-5, CE-1, MF-103, and Fuzzrite

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.

Read More

Fender '63 Reverb Tank

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.

Read More

EHX Holy Grail V1 Reverb

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

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.

Read More

Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah

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.

Read More

EHX POG

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.

Read More

Moog MF-105 MuRF

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.

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante, Guitar Player magazine, 2006

Moog MuRF is heard on the solo for ‘Tell Me Baby’ – starts at around 3:55.

The effect was also featured in the second verse of Dani California (listen to the video below).

Read More

EHX Electric Mistress Flanger

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.

Read More

Moog MF-101 Low Pass Filter

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.

John Frusciante – Dani California (Part 1)

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.

Read More

Moog MF-102 Ring Modulator

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.

Read More

Moog CP-251 Control Processor

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.

Read More

Moog MF-105 MuRF

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.

Read More

Moog Expression Pedal

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.

Read More

Guyatone Flip VT-X Vintage Tremolo

Seen on John’s pedalboard around 2006/2007.

When bypassed, the pedal acts as a preamp/boost and flips the amps phase, a bit like the Boss CE-1. So, John could’ve potentially used it for that.

Read More

DigiTech Whammy 4 Pitch Shifter

Used very briefly towards the latter part of the Stadium Arcadium tour circa 2007, most notably at the Coachella festival (see comments for more).

Read More

fOXX Fuzz Wah Volume

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.

Read More

EHX English Muff’n Tube Distortion

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).

Read More

MXR DynaComp

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

Read More

MXR M300 Reverb

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

Read More

Strings

D'Addario Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

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.

Read More

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)

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.

Dave Lee – YouTube

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.

Read More

Accessories

Levy's Guitar Strap

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.

Levy’s guitar straps are pretty low-key and simple-looking and extend up to 54 inches – or 66 inches on the X-long version.

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.

Read More

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.

Right now, Schaller only sells the newer version of their strap locks. These are essentially identical to the ones John used, aside from a few minor design differences.

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.

Read More

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, 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.

Guitarist (UK), June 2003 – Universally Speaking

One of John’s Dunlop picks with the custom design printed on it. Source: eBay.
Read More

Ernie Ball Polypro Guitar Strap

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.

Dave Navarro, John Frusciante, filmed on February 8, 2020.
Read More

ILITCH BPNCS Hum-Canceling System

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).

Read More