How to Capture the Magical Tone of John Frusciante

Let's unpack the tone of another one of my favorite guitarists - John Frusciante. As someone who grew up in the 90's, the Red Hot Chili Peppers definitely impacted my musical journey and I still love playing their riffs today. I'm a self-professed Strat guy and there is just something about John's tone that warms my heart. Perhaps it is his Frank Zappa or Jimi Hendrix inspired style of his funk and jazz inspired sounds...whatever it is...I find his work magnetic.

So, if you are here to dial in on his tone so you can recreate all of that Chili Pepper magic, I want to help you accomplish that goal. A couple of items to note, I am not going to cover the tones from John's early work or projects after the year 2009 which is when John left the Chili Peppers for the second time. Also, John obviously has way more guitars and pedals then what will be covered here so the intent of this post is to get you about 80-90% there. 


John has a ton of amps and amp heads but the shining star or most notable is his Marshall 25/55 Silver Jubilee. John actually has two of these where he uses the second one for mainly overdriven tones and no effects. The Jubilee is always paired with his Marshall Major which is supposedly a 1967 model.

There is not a lot of information available online about his exact amp settings, but here is a ballpark estimate:


Presence: 4 or 5
Bass:  3
Middle:  3
Treble: 7 or 8
Output: 7 or 8
Input Gain: 5

Now, if you also want the amp settings for his Marshall Major, here is another rough estimate:

Presence: 5 or 6
Bass: 8
Treble: No higher than 7
Volume: 8 or 9

This gear is going to cost you a pretty penny since the Jubilees were only produced for one in year in 1987 so if you are looking for some pedal alternatives, I would suggest starting with something like the Alexander Pedals Jubilee Silver Overdrive which mimics the Marshall 25/55 Silver Jubilee John utilized.

At this point, we have covered John's main amps, so let's go ahead and talk about his guitars. John owns a number of guitars (probably 30-40) and the purpose of this post is not to cover every single piece of gear, so we'll cover the most influential guitars.


John has two tobacco sunburst stratocasters. The first is his 1955 strat. This guitar is the only guitar in his collections which has a maple fretboard and contains Seymour Duncan SSL-1 Pickups. John has mentioned this is second favorite guitar and it can be heard on mellow songs like The Zephyr Song.

And, that leads us to the second tobacco sunburst strat which is his favorite guitar and probably the most important to him sentimentally since it was given as a gift to him from Anthony Kiedis. This guitar features a rosewood fretboard and stock Fender Vintage pickups. There  are some conflicting reports that he may also have the Seymour Duncan SSL-1's installed but in a recent interview, Dave Lee who was guitar tech on tour from 1998-2007, confirmed the pickups on this guitar are indeed the Fender Original Pickups.

The next guitar worth mentioning is John's 1963 Telecaster. John is definitely a strat guy but by the time the Chili Peppers were recording their "By the Way" album he was really into telecasters. You can hear that tele twang on songs like Warm Tape and This is the Place. There is really nothing fancy about this guitar and it includes stock Fender Vintage Pickups.

And finally, it is worth mentioning John's Gretsch White Falcon. If you look line some say it is a 1955 and others say it is a 1965. It is hard to pinpoint the actual year but nonetheless you can hear those distinctive White Falcon Filtertron Pickups on songs like Californication and the Otherside. This guitar was generally paired with his Fender Showman Amp and a Marshall 4 x 12 cabinet.

At this point, we have covered the foundational gear - amps and guitars. Let's go ahead and dig into his pedals. Again, there are too many pedals to cover in just one blog posts so ware going to focus on the main ones.


Let's kick things off with his Ibanez WH-10. This wah pedal has been a main stay for him from around "Mother's Milk" to "Stadium Arcadium." John mentioned he prefers this over something like a Dunlop Cry Baby because of the wider frequency range.

Next up is BOSS DS-2 Turbo Distortion which is definitely a John Frusciante staple. Just think of the solo from Dani California and most other Chili Pepper songs. It's on a lot of his stuff.

Speaking of BOSS pedals, we have his BOSS CE-1 Chorus Ensemble pedal. This pedal is a classic and costs about $600-700 to get one these days. It is another long-standing pedal for him and can be heard near the end on songs like Under the Bridge.

And, we have John's 2 Line 6 pedals. The first one is his Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler which was mainly utilized during the "By the Way" era to achieve his delay effects. And often, right next to it, would be his Line 6 FM4 Filter Modeler.

And finally, we have John's MXR M133 Micro Amp which is utilized to punch up his clean tone a bit without coloring his tone too much. If you catch one of his solo performances during a concert, you'll hear this pedal shine.

So there you have it. That's how you capture the magic of John Frusciante's tone. It's mainly a Marshall/Fender Stratocaster combination and is heavily vintage making it expensive but it sounds amazing. 

If there is a certain musician you would like to cover next, please comment below. Until then...

Keep Exploring.


DISCLAIMERS: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

This blog post was not paid for by outside persons or manufacturers. No gear was supplied to us for this project The content of this blog post and video are our opinions and not reviewed or paid for by any outside persons.


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1 comment

  • Could y’all do Tom Morello next?


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