John Frusciante’s 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

In the second quote, John says that he has two more small body Martins. Here, he’s probably referring to his own Martin 0-15, which 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 to mention anywhere if he ever returned the first Martin to Anthony. So, we do not know whether one of the two 0-15 that he owns currently is Anthony’s/Rick’s 0-15 or not. But, from the quote below, it does sound like he’s saying that he bought all three of his current small-body Martins.

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

So, in short, according to him, he picked one of the 0-15s at Norman’s (photo above), alongside the 0-18, and the backup 0-15 was supplied by Dave Lee, John’s guitar tech at the time.

However, according to Dave Lee, the backup 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 the 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 in 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 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 the 40s or 50s model than the 30s.

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


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jo giu
jo giu
2 years ago

it is most likely from the 50’s because its got a rosewood fretboard not an ebony fretboard

3 years ago

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

3 years ago
Reply to  Dan Kopilovic

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…

4 years ago

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

4 years ago
Reply to  Dan Kopilovic

I can see it added already, cheers Dan!