John Frusciante’s 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).

John playing what was likely a Performance Custom guitar. Photo credit: Jim Steinfeldt
John playing what was likely a Performance Custom guitar. Photo credit: Jim Steinfeldt

Model, Specs

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.

What doesn’t fit with the usual configuration of the Pacer Custom II model is the 24 fret maple neck featuring a long banana headstock. By 1986/87 when the model was first introduced, Kramer already started using pointy headstocks, so John’s guitar must have been one of a kind. Even the few of the Pacers that featured maple necks all came with pointy headstocks finished in black, so again quite unusual seeing that particular setup on John’s guitar.

A more likely option is that this was not a Kramer, but a Performance guitar []. If you look at some of the photos, you’ll notice that the branding on the headstock is way too long to spell Kramer.

Furthermore, one of John’s friends who actually drove him to buy the guitar, said in a post on Instagram that according to his memory, it was an Ibanez Performance.

Its an Ibanez performance custom with nudes all over it i drive him to pick it up

Matthew Goodman – Instagram

But, since “Ibanez Performance” is tied to an acoustic line, and there was never an electric guitar from Ibanez branded “Performance”, likely, Matthew is remembering only partially correct.

Update from Rick Rubin’s Podcast

In a lucky sequence of events, Anthony Keidis actually asked John about this exact guitar on Rick Rubin’s podcast. John confirmed that it was a Performance and that this was the only guitar he had when he first joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

JF: I had two guitars – I had one guitar that had naked ladies all over it, under the finish. And then I had this – I guess I didn’t have the Ibanez – the naked lady guitar was what I had when I joined

AK: What was that?

JF: It was a Performance guitar. It’s made by this guy in North Hollywood.

John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers | Broken Record (Hosted by Rick Rubin)

Where is it now?

As far as what happened to the guitar post-1988, it’s apparent that it was filmed in the 1993 short documentary recorded at John’s place. This means that John kept the guitar for at least 5 years, even though by then he switched to playing Fender Stratocasters almost exclusively.

John's Kramer spotted in the 1993 short documentary Stuff
John’s Kramer spotted in the 1993 short documentary Stuff

From that point on, it’s most likely that the guitar was either sold or was destroyed during a fire that caught John’s house.

If you happen to know anything more about this guitar, even the slightest bit of information, be sure to leave a comment at the bottom of this page. To help you start in your research – below is a video of John playing this guitar in 1988, and here’s a photo album on imgur showing screencaps from a couple of different videos.


GroundGuitar counts on your criticism and feedback. In case you notice anything wrong with the information posted on this page, or you have knowledge of something that you would like to share, be sure to leave a comment below.

If you notice a piece of gear missing, and you wanna add it yourself, you can do so on this page Add Gear to GroundGuitar.

In case you want to talk to me directly and privately, please use the Contact Form and I will get back to you as soon as possible. (Dan)

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The other
The other
3 years ago

I assume it was destroyed when his house burned down the following year

I read alot of his artwork and guitars were lost in that fire

10 months ago

John confirmed this was a Performance Customs made in Hollywood on Broken Record with Rick Rubin. Anthony remembered the Ibanez phase and asked him about this guitar too.

John grindey
John grindey
4 months ago

I remember this was the guitar he had at MI musicians institute in 87 to 88 before he left.