John Frusciante’s 1970s Les Paul Custom

Acquired sometime prior to Mother’s Milk and possibly used to record Higher Ground, Good Time Boys, and Knock Me Down. This is based on the fact that John on occasion used the guitar when performing the songs live, although he never really gave a precise statement on this subject – so take it with a grain of salt. He could’ve also just taken this guitar on the tour, and used something completely different in the studio.

I played mostly Strats and Les Pauls on the record. (continued) For a while, my main guitar was a ’68 Strat, but it was stolen. Since then, I’ve gotten a couple of others that I’ve fallen in love with. But our basic philosophy is that our tones are in our fingers, and the particular instrument you play, or what kind of pick you use, doesn’t matter much.

Guitar Player (USA), April 1990


Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much info out there about this guitar. The only thing worth noting is that based on the photos, it appears to have a wide body binding, which is typical to the models made post-1975 – so John’s Les Paul was almost certainly not a highly-priced vintage model from the 50s.

John Frusciante playing a Les Paul Custom. December 30, 1989
John Frusciante with the Les Paul Custom. December 30, 1989

Also, this guitar was mentioned by Robbie Allen, in a recent interview he did with the JF Effects website, but he did not disclose any significant new information regarding it.

He had a Les Paul too, when he first got his money, he bought two ’69 Stratocasters and a brand-new black Gibson Les Paul Custom [Black Beauty].



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Brian S
Brian S
3 months ago

I actually asked Dave Navarro on an Instagram story a while back about any interactions he may have had with JF and what his relationship with him was like given the One Hot Minute situation. He posted a very interesting and somewhat detailed response about this Les Paul, stating that he gifted JF a Les Paul (this one) and it was sold for drugs. Much later after JFs return, he felt bad and gave Dave Navarro the exact same guitar as a peace offering. Very interesting story, and I believe Dave talks about it somewhere in his podcast.

Brian S
Brian S
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian S

*correction. It appears I’m mistaken in saying this guitar was originally gifted to him by Navarro. The correct version of this story is that Navarro gave him a different Les Paul that was sold for drugs and that JF later gave Navarro this guitar to make up for it. Still a touching and fascinating story!