John Frusciante’s Marshall Bass Head (BSSM)

access_time First seen circa 1991

Based on photographic evidence, and statements made by John, this amp was used extensively on the Blood Sugar Sex Magic album. However, as he never stated specifically which amp he used on the record, we’re left to guess by ourselves.

For most of the basics, I used two Marshalls: a guitar head for edge and a bass head for punch and low end. I split the signal with a DOD stereo chorus pedal. For some overdubs, I used a Fender H.O.T. practice amp, but for a lot of parts, even solos, I just went straight into the board.

From another interview, John states that he uses […]

I used this little 12W practice amp and that set up got used for most overdubs ’cause it sounded so much better than all the other stuff. For the other meat I got a bunch of Strats, all ’70s models through a Marshall 60w bass head. [Guitar (UK), November 1991]

Based on the footage from the 1991 documentary ‘Funky Monks’, which followed the band’s making of the BSSM album, John used at least five different Marshall amps.

A screenshot from the 1990 documentary ‘Funky Monks’ shows John with four different Marshall amps, plus one sitting on the floor directly behind him.

The only amp that we’re one hundred percent positive on the exact model is the one sitting on the speaker cabinet on the right – that’s a JCM800, an amp that John used extensively both during the Mother’s Milk and BSSM tours. The one sitting above it is either a vintage Marshall Super Lead or a Super Bass (same as the amp directly behind the John on the floor).

The amp on the top left is likely a de-branded Marshall JMP 2204, and the one below it could be a late 70s Marshall JMP Super Bass. The weird thing about this last amp is that it appears to be turned on, based on the light coming from the on/off switch, and it appears to have the Marshall badge sitting quiet low – very close to the control board, and there’s no visible white line going across the front.

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access_time 1990

Marshall JCM800

John used these amps extensively during the Mother’s Milk tour, usually connected to a pair of Marshall 4×10 speaker cabinets. At this point, we don’t know whether John used JCM800 model 2203 or model 2204 (the difference between the two being 100W in the former, versus 50W in the later). What we can conclude from the […]

access_time 1998

Marshall Major 200W (Model 1967)

Used first during the ‘Californication’ recording sessions, paired with a Marshall Bass head (similar principle as on BSSM, except that he mostly used a JCM800 there). He continued using this amp for ‘By the Way’ and ‘Stadium Arcadium’ as his main amp both in the studio and on stage – here paired with a Marshall […]

access_time 1998

Marshall Silver Jubilee

First used during the Californication studio session in 1998/99 and on the following tour. The amp quickly became a part of John’s main stage amp setup, always paired with a Marshall Major amp. In the Chili Peppers, I always have a Marshall Major, Marshall Jubilee, and my old Fender Stratocasters. [Vintage Guitar (USA), April 2009] On occasions, […]

access_time 1999

Vox AC30

Used on the song “Porcelain” from the 1999 album Californication [Total Guitar (UK), Autumn 1999]. The same model, although probably not the same exact amp, was also seen on some shows that John did with Ataxia, circa 2004.

access_time 1999

Fender Blackface Showman

Possibly used during the studio recording of “Scar Tissue” and “Otherside” [Guitar Player, September 1999], as there are photos showing the amp sitting next to John’s usual setup. It appears however that this amp was used only in the studio since on the following tour a Silverface Dual Showman was used instead. [Red Hot Chili Peppers – […]

access_time 1999

1965 Marshall JTM-45

This amp was used to some extent on the Californication album, usually paired with a Marshall Super Bass. Interestingly, even though John recorded some of the songs on it, the amp was never used on tour, but a 200W Marshall Lead was used instead. (Talking about ‘Around the World’:) That’s a Fender Jaguar I borrowed from our […]

access_time 1991

Fender H.O.T. Combo Amp

John used this small practice combo amp in early 1991 for some overdubs on the BSSM album. For some overdubs I used a Fender H.O.T. practice amp. […] It’s pretty good, you know. I think I got some amazing sounds out of it. Facing it to the ground and that kind of shit. And for some […]

access_time 1999

Fender Silverface Dual Showman (Head)

This amp seemed to have been used for the entirety of the Californication tour, next to a Marshall Silver Jubilee and a Major Bass. It was abandoned by the time the band went on the By The Way tour in in mid-2002, and since then John resorted to using Marshall amps exclusively on stage.

access_time 1991

Mesa Boogie Head (Unknown)

John used this amp in early 1991, although there are very few photos or videos of him actually using it as the band played only five gigs in early 1991, before taking a break to work on BSSM album. Based on a statement that John gave in an interview dated to February 1991, at that […]

access_time 1988

Soldano SLO100

This is the amp that John used during the ‘Mother’s Milk’ studio sessions, however, during the album tour, he used either a Mesa/Boogie (unknown model), or a Marshall JCM800. For the album, I played through a Soldano head, which goes to “11.” [Guitar Player (USA), April 1990]

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