John Frusciante’s 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.
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.).
I had my ’62, which has the original pickups, and then I had the [’54] with the Duncans, and the sound was very similar. The differences had more to do with the guitars than the pickups. Eventually, I had to get Duncans in the ’62, as well.VintageGuitar magazine – John Frusciante Red Hot On The Empyrean
According to an interview that John did with Total Guitar, published in May 2022, his ’54 Stratocaster now has custom-wound pickups made by Paul Waller of the Fender Custom Shop.
It’s been reported a few times that this is John’s second favorite guitar, and he used it extensively on Californication – possibly more than his ’62 Strat. Since then it’s usually been used on slower and more mellow songs – a good example is Zephyr Song from By the Way album released in 2002.
(talking about recording the Californication album:) I used a ’56 Stratocaster for most of the basic tracks, and a ’62 Stratocaster- the sunburst one- on some stuff.Guitar One (USA), September 1999
I only used my ’57 and ’62 Strat, because those two are my favorite guitars and I don’t think I used any other guitars. Those two make most of the sounds I’m looking for or hear in my head. I’ve been playing these Stratocasters for a long time, so they are like a part of my body. If I play other guitars, I feel like I’m playing with a toy.John Frusciante talks about his new solo album, The Empyrean, 2009
The guitar was also used on Stadium Arcadium, most notably on Dani California.
To avoid any misunderstandings, John sometimes refers to the guitar as a ’57 (like in the video above), sometimes as a ’56, but based on the serial number, the guitar is a ’54. In the above video, he might also be referring to his Shure SM57 microphones when talking about the equipment used on Dani California.
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