John Frusciante’s Marshall JCM800

access_time First seen circa 1990

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 photos is that John’s used a number of different JCM800s, mostly those with vertical inputs. On rare occasions (see Pinkpop festival footage) he was seen using a Marshall JCM800 with horizontal inputs. These models are regarded by most as less desirable than the earlier models with the vertical inputs – the main reason being a change to the circuit which made the amp sound more grainy.

John playing through a Marshall JCM800 Stack. Photo source: YouTube – Red Hot Chili Peppers 1990, “Night Music”, Chelsea Studios, NYC.

It is also worth noting that at least in 1990, John didn’t use these amps exclusively. Although most of the band’s TV appearances seem to show a JCM800 (next to the one we showed the photo of above, also see RHCP appearance on Letterman in March 1990), John also used a Marshall JMP head – for example during the Kawasaki gig in 1990. Also, for the few gigs that band played in early 1991, John mostly used a Mesa Boogie head, but switched back to the JCM800 after the release of BSSM.

Marshall JCM800 amp on Blood Sugar Sex Magik album

Although at this time we have no precise information, based on the footage of the band’s recording process captured in the 1991 documentary ‘Funky Monks‘, John used a JCM800 on BSSM at least to some extent. He also stated on several occasions that he did indeed use Marshall amps on the record.

I played through a Marshall bass head and a Marshall guitar head – sometimes only one of them, and sometimes both of them. [Guitar World (USA), November 1991]

A screenshot from the 1990 documentary ‘Funky Monks’ shows John with four different Marshall amps, one of them being a JCM800 (bottom right)

If you happen to recognize the model of the guitar cabinet sitting on the right on the photo above, please be sure to leave a comment below. Note the slanted logo in the right corner, corner guards, and the color of the cab.

From another quote from John, it is clear that he was only using two amps. However, this makes one wonder what were the other amps used for, especially since one of them seems to be turned on – based on the light coming from the on/off switch. These could’ve been Fleas (unlikely, since there were more amps sitting opposite of Flea in the room), or just a few more Marshalls that John was experimenting with at the time.

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.

If we had to guess, the JCM800 was one of those John’s main two amps on the BSSM album. On the photo below, it is clear that there’s a cable going straight to it, and what’s probably even more important – during the BSSM tour in 1991, he used a pair of JCM800s extensively on stage. It seems that he probably liked the amp, and it makes sense that he would use the same model live as he used on the record.

Also – fun to note, the amp that he used during the recording sessions, the one shown on the footage, has horizontal inputs. As we stated in the second paragraph, most people consider these to be worse in comparison to the ones with vertical inputs.

Regarding the bass amp, at this point, we find it really hard to tell which of these amps is even a bass amp. If you’re curious about some theory-crafting on the subject, check out our article on John’s Marshall Bass head.

Another screenshot from the Funky Monks documentary, showing John playing through a JCM800.

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I think the “cabinet” on the right is just a roadcase for a cabinet.

Continue browsing, or go subdirectory_arrow_leftBack to John Frusciante Gear Page
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 Silver Jubilee 25/55. I used a real old ’65 Marshall. I also used a 200-watt […]

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, John was seen using two Marshall Silver Jubilees at the same time on stage (see Slane […]

access_time 1991

Marshall Bass Head (BSSM)

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 […]

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 recording engineer, Jim Scott. I like Jags – they get a really cool, cheap sound. […]

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 – Bizarre 1999 Germany] (talking about ‘Otherside’) That was a ’55 Gretsch White Falcon through the […]

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

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 things, I just went direct into the board – which is like my favorite guitar […]

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 point the amp was halfway broken, and John was already thinking about a replacement. As […]

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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