John Frusciante's Pedalboard: The Guitar Effects Pedals Behind His Sound

It's never really easy to get a good guitar tone. However, for some it seems like an effortless task and whatever are the guitars, pedals, and amps they play – it always sounds so perfect. One of the guitar players that comes to mind here is John Frusciante. Although best known for his work in Red Hot Chili Peppers (with many fans still mourning his departure from the band), there are so many different aspects to his playing and we can't find enough words to praise his skills and the ability to conquer new sonic territories with some pretty straightforward pedals.

While the first image that comes to mind when we think of Frusciante is him holding a Stratocaster, there are some other pieces of equipment responsible for shaping his tone. In case you're looking to achieve Frusciante's sound, here's a brief look at his pedalboard and some of the interesting pieces we can find on it.


There have been a few different distortion pedals in his signal chain. The most obvious one is the classic Boss DS-1 that many other guitar legends are also known for using. While we're at Boss, he's also used the FZ-3 Fuzz and the DS-2 Turbo Distortion. The DS-2 is a pretty interesting one as it takes the classic DS-1 to a whole new level.

There's also another fuzz somewhere in there, made by a smaller manufacturer Zvex, called Fuzz Factory.

Then there are pieces like Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, English Muff'n, and – weirdly enough – Metal Muff. Although not a metal guitarist, Frusciante has some high gain lead and riff sections in his music. Yes, some of these might be unexpected to see on his board, but he implements them in such a way to create his own unique style.

Other than these, he also uses the MXR M133 Micro Amp gain booster. This way, he pushes the signal which then breaks the limits of his tube amps, ultimately delivering that "organic" overdrive.

Modulation and other effects

It's not rare to hear some modulation and other effects in Frusciante's guitar parts he recorded over the years. There have been some chorus pedals, like the old and somewhat rare DOD FX65. However, he really went old school with his use of Boss' CE-1, that legendary old pedal from the 1970s.

Frusciante is also a fan of different filter effects which allow him to create some pretty quirky tones. First, there's the famous Line 6 FM4 with its abundance of options. However, things become interesting with his use of Moor Moogfooger MF-105M which is capable of delivering some wild effects.

There are also a few different phasers on there, flangers like the Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress, and a tremolo pedal like the Guyatone Vintage Tremolo.

He's also known for using other quirky stuff like Electro-Harmonix POG Polyphonic Octaver Generator, Electro-Harmonix Micro Synthesizer, as well as the legendary DigiTech Whammy.

Delay and reverb

As for delays, there there are some vintage pieces in his arsenal, like the DOD Analog Delay, DigiTech PDS 1002, and the classic Boss DM-2 analog delay.

Going over to reverbs, he decided for yet another Electro-Harmonix option here, the Holy Grail Nano. However, for the studio recordings, he used a very rare and highly valued vintage rack-mounted piece EMT 252. Looking at some of his other pedals, this choice of a vintage '80s reverb comes as no surprise.


His wah-wah use is also something that made him famous. There are a few different wahs he implemented throughout his career, like the Dunlop Dimebag Darrel signature pedal, classic GCB95, and Ibanez WH10. Of course, there is another vintage pedal in this category as well, Fender's old fOXX Fuzz Wah that can also be used as a volume controller.

Other pedals and effects

In this heavily vintage-oriented setup, there are a few other pedals worth mentioning. For controlling some of his effects, John uses different expression pedals, like the Moog EP-3. There's also a volume pedal by Boss, the FV-50H, which also has the expression connectivity option.


Overall, it's pretty clear that Frusciante either likes the old models that are still produced today (which can be seen with his Electro-Harmonix and Boss collection) or those vintage pedals from the '70s.

Recreating his tone is not exactly the easiest task. But aside from a Strat-like guitar with single-coils, you can start with the DS-1, Big Muff, a simple chorus, analog delay, and a classic Cry Baby wah. In case you'd want to take it to another level, then you'd need to be ready to dig for those vintage effects, but that might get a bit expensive.

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