Across his more recent tenures with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, John Frusciante has been known to use a fairly substantial pedalboard to cover the bands massively diverse catalogue of tones. If we take a dive back to a pivotal moment in the bands career, we find a more stripped back rig at the core of the tones.
This rig is the rig used on the 2000 album Californication and the subsequent tour. This album marked Frusciante’s return to the band after a few years away due to personal problems. The return was not only welcomed by fans, but it spawned some of the bands biggest hits and sparked a new era of success for the group.
Out of all the photos of his live board at this time, it is fairly stripped back.
- Boss DS-1 Distortion
- Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion (Essential for that Frusciante sound)
- Electro Harmonix Russian Big Muff Pi
- MXR Phase 90
- Ibanez WH-10 Wah
- Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble
Boss DS-1 Distortion
For the most part of the albums recording and first half of the tour, Frusciante’s pedalboard was seen without the DS-1. This pedal was added to his live rig some point mid way through the tour but was kept off the board. It was most likely used as a boost of some sort, or just as a different flavour of distortion.
Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion
The DS-2 Turbo Distortion has been part of John’s tone since he first got it in 1991. It has become the main distortion for both studio and live use as well as on his own solo material. This pedal is the one essential pedal to nail the John Fruscinate distortion tone.
Electro Harmonix Russian Big Muff Pi
This pedal was photographed on his board on the Californication tour but there is no information to support how, and if, it was used either on tour or in the studio. It is assumed that John might have kicked it on during various lead breaks through the night for colouration.
MXR Phase 90
For the recording of the Californication album, John used a Phase 100 pedal in the studio that had been borrowed from a friend. By the time the tour started, John had added the Phase 90 to his pedalboard. This is used for a few early tracks from the bands catalogue as well as a few from the Californication album.
Ibanez WH-10 Wah
Since the Mother’s Milk era, the WH-10 has been Johns favourite wah pedal. He has been quoted saying he prefers the sound of the WH-10 over the typical Dunlop CryBaby sound as the WH-10 has a wider sweep and frequency response. It was on his board right through to his departure from the band in 2010.
John has also said he likes the wide frequency response because there are certain positions that he can hold the pedal to create feedback with his amplifier.
Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble
The CE-1 has also been a part of John’s board from 1990 right through to his departure from the band in 2010. John used the CE-1 to also split his signal between his Marshall Major and his Marshall Bass guitar heads. This pedal could be heard on songs like Under the Bridge.
By the time John had re-joined the band in 1998, prior to the writing and recording sessions for Californication took place, he did not actually own a guitar. In the years prior to this, John had a known drug dependency and sold a lot of his guitar collection to finance his habit. He was also the victim of a house fire in which a lot of his guitars were destroyed. When he rejoined the band, he had to start collecting all over again.
1962 Fender Stratocaster
This guitar was purchased by frontman Anthony Keidis as a gift to John for rejoining the band as John did not own a guitar of his own at this stage. An interview with John revealed that John did infact own one guitar, a red Fender Jaguar, but he felt this guitar was not good enough for studio use with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. He has stated that he needed a Stratocaster in order to be part of the band and fulfil the sound.
If it believed that the guitars original pickups were used for the recording of the Californication album but these were later changed. John claims they were changed to a set of Seymour Duncans (Though he does not know which model, it is believe it was the low output SSL-1 set), but his guitar tech at the time, Dave Lee, claims they were swapped for a set of stock USA Fender Stratocaster pickups that came on all shop-bought Strats at that time.
1955 Fender Stratocaster
This guitar was also bought at the same time. This is the only maple necked Stratocaster that John has ever been known to use live or in the studio. When he bought the guitar in 1998, the original pickups had already been replaced with a set of Seymour Duncan SSL-1 pickups. This guitar tends to be used more for the slower and mellower songs.
1959-1962 Fender Telecaster
This guitar was used to record the song Easily and the guitar solo for Scar Tissue. John believe’s it to be a 1965 Telecaster, but the slab fretboard points to it having been made between 1959 and 1962.
1955 Gretsch White Falcon
Used for the songs Otherside and Californication as well as for a few sections on the track This Velvet Glove, the White Falcon made a few appearances on the album and was also seen in the music video for the title track. John strung this guitar with .12 gauge strings, a big jump from his usual .10 gauge sets on all his main guitars.
Amplifiers and Cabinets
During the recording and touring of the Californication album, John mixed some Marshall amps together with some Fender amps to create his famous tone.
- Marshall Bass Head
- Marshall Major 200w Head
- Marshall Silver Jubilee
- Fender Showman
Marshall Bass Head
The Marshall Bass Head has been part of John’s live and studio rig since the early 90s. He pairs the amp with other amplifiers to get a blend of tones. The Marshall Bass is used for the low end in his sound.
Marshall Major 200w Head
The Marshall Major is a 200w head that John paired with the Marshall Bass. The Major entered his rig during the Californication recording sessions and became one of his main amps. The Major was a high headroom amp that wound run the brighter end of John’s tone.
Marshall Silver Jubilee
The other amp that John started using at the time of recording the album is the Marshall Silver Jubilee. This was always paired with the Marshall Major on stage. He has also been seen to use two Silver Jubilee’s live. When he ran two, he would run one clean with effects going into it and the other on the overdrive channel, totally dry to be used whenever he used a Les Paul. He took inspiration for this overdriven tone from Slash.
The Showman amp was used heavily both in the studio and live. John used a Blackface Showman on the recording of Scar Tissue and Otherside, but the Blackface model was not used on tour. The touring Fender amp was a Silverface Dual Showman that was paired with his Marshall amps.