John Frusciante’s 1940s Martin 0-15

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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 writing songs.

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

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

In the first quote John says that he has two more small body Martins, and he’s probably referring to own Martin 0-15, that he bought at Norman’s rare guitars in 2001, and possibly a 0-18 model which he mentioned in a later interview.

Credit: Reddit – John Frusciante buying a Martin D-15 M (?) from Norman’s rare guitars

Two or Three 0-15s?

John does not seem mention anywhere if he ever returned the first Martin to Anthony, but from the quote below, it sounds like that could be the case. John talks about owning two 50s Martins, 0-15s, and a 0-18 (blond one). He picked one of the 0-15s at Norman’s (photo above), alongside the 0-18, and the back-up 0-15 was suppled by Dave Lee, John’s guitar tech at the time.

Actually I have two brown Martins from the fifties – the small-scale ones – and they’re incredible. I also have a blond one too. I picked two of them up from Norm’s Rare Guitars in the Valley and my guitar tech found me the other one somewhere because I needed to have a back-up for something or other.

Guitarist – April 2004

However, according to Dave Lee, the back-up was the one that was purchased at Norman’s, while the main one was Rick’s.

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

So, depending on who tells the true story, John either used Rick’s Martin, then returned it and bought himself two 0-15s, making that three 0-15 in total. Or – he never returned the guitar to Rick/Anthony, and only bought one additional 0-15, making it two total.

Also, Dave Lee seems pretty adamant about the 0-15 belonging to Rick Rubin, which means that even if John got it from Anthony, the guitar was only lent to Kiedis, and still belonged to Rubin.

In any case, just to keep things simple, we’ll go along with the story that there were two 0-15s. This seems to make most sense, especially if you read John’s interviews from 2001, and if you think about that Rick probably wouldn’t ask for the guitar back anyways, if he saw that John was attached to it.

Lastly, if you look at the photo below, which was taken in January 2001 in London, you’ll notice a scratch on the back of the body. This scratch is also visible on the guitar on the photos taken by Vintage Guitar magazine in 2009. Given that by January 2001 John didn’t already buy the second 0-15 from Norm’s (which he probably didn’t), this proves that the Rick Rubin Martin is still with John, and eliminates the existence of the third 0-15.

This scratch on the back of the body is the easiest way to differentiate the Rick Rubin 0-15 and the Norman’s Rare 0-15.

Year of Manufacture

Unfortunately, the exact year of manufacture of John’s main 0-15, the one he got from Rick Rubin, is unknown. John sometimes refers to the guitar as a Martin from the 30s, and in other cases as a 40s or a 50s model.

Based on most sources, the 0-15 model was introduced in 1940, but there were a few prototypes built in the mid 30s. Going by deduction, John’s guitar is then way more likely to be a 40s or 50s model than 30s.

However, without serial number, one can only keep guessing without ever reaching something that could be considered conclusive.

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Piotr
Piotr
1 year ago

How about the Taylor that Rick Rubin suggested using on “Californication” album?

Piotr
Piotr
1 year ago

I can see it added already, cheers Dan!

Miguel
Miguel
10 months ago

Does anyone know wich amp John used to play his acoustic guitars with?

Miguel
Miguel
10 months ago

I’ve been looking for some video or photograph from him playing with the peppers or from his live performances to clarify this and I found nothing relevant. In John’s ATP show there’s an amp at his back but I’m not sure if it is part of his gear or of any other band, either way I can’t tell which amp it is…