John Frusciante’s 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.


John found this guitar through Vincent Gallo, and the inspiration for it supposedly comes from Matthew Ashman who played one in his new wave band “BowWowWow”, and also from Malcolm Young who played a similar model with AC/DC.

He [Vincent Gallo] found me a lot of things. At this point he’s found me pretty much a whole recording studio! As far as guitars go, he’s found me my 1955 Gretsch White Falcon, which is the nicest guitar I have, I think.

original  source needed

Heavier Strings on the Gretsch

John strings this guitar with .012 strings, which are noticeably heavier from the usual set of .010s he plays on most of his guitars.

I also used this ’55 Gretsch White Falcon- it’s the kind of guitar that Matthew Ashman used in BowWowWow and Malcolm Young used to use in AC/DC- for “Californication” and “Otherside.” I have .012-gauge strings on it. I’d like to go more into that- developing a guitar style using thick strings like that.

Guitar One (USA), September 1999

Since it’s fairly well known that he uses D’Addario EXL110 strings on his main Stratocaster, it’s safe to say that he uses the same brand on the Gretsch. So based on that, the Gretsch would be strung with the D’Addario EXL145 set.

The Year of Manufacture

John most often refers to the guitar as a ’55 model, but in reality, the guitar was most likely made in 1957. This is based on the fact that it has two toggle switches, and it has Filtertron pickups instead of the Dynasonics which are found on the ’55 models (thanks to all the commentators for their contribution).


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1 year ago

His guitar has 2 pickup switches, a normal 55 white falcon has 1. Did he modify it?

Mark Swartley
Mark Swartley
10 months ago
Reply to  George

There are lots of variations on this model. In fact Malcom Young played a version that was called a “Project-o-sonic” 6136 White Falcon and it had 4 switches and a different configuration on the lower bout, it was a 1959. There are plenty of pics of his online, I love the way it look. I personally own a reissue of the 1955 version with one switch.

Gretsch guitars screen shot for screen saver.jpg
6 months ago
Reply to  George

Its a 57 The 55 falcon were one switch and dynasonic pickups . This one has filtertrons and 2 switches and one master volume and one pickup volume and tone etc

1 year ago

I made some research and found out that it is more likely a 1957 white falcon because his white falcon has two switches, 1955 has one switch, a different pickguard and different pickups.
Johns guitar:comment image
’57 white falcon:comment image
’55 white falcon:comment image

Last edited 1 year ago by George
3 months ago

Anyone noticed that in the 2022 tour he uses a different white falcon? This one has a bigsby, other pickups, different positioning of the knobs … Anyone who knows which version that is?

3 months ago
Reply to  Dan Kopilovic

I noticed it in the same video but only could find the picture attached. I think based on the pickups it could be a ‘55 or ‘56, but I’m not sure.