Grooves & Guitars – John Frusciante’s Armor of Enigma
The enthralling & electrifying guitar maestro, John Frusciante, is best known as the former lead guitarist of Red Hot Chili Peppers. The American funk-rock band knew how to rock a party but John Frusciante’s inclusion to the band was immensely special & significant for them. He would magically turn them into an arena-packing band that had a sound to claim as their own. He boosted their sounds with seamlessly integrated fire such as the volcanic & exhilarating, Hendrix-style solo on ‘Dani California’ as well as the remarkable & unforgettable opening chords of ‘Under the Bridge’. He was a seeker of memorable melodies regardless of the musical context, most notably the stunning solo in ‘Can’t Stop’. The art of impeccably playing with such melodic intention is one of the most difficult things to master.
Frusciante enjoyed two stints with the Red Hot Chili Peppers aside from enjoying an actively successful solo career. He successfully released eleven solo albums and five EP’s on his own. He recorded five studio albums with them from 1988 until 1992, and then again from 1998 until 2009. Ranked 72nd on the ‘Rolling Stones List of Greatest Guitarists’, the only guitar Frusciante owned when he first joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in 1988 was the 1986/87 Kramer Pacer Custom II. He only used it for couple of shows with the Peppers as well as some of his initial performances with HATE, a side band project with Flea.
Another gem in his gallery of guitars was the 1968 Fender Stratocaster, his main Stratocaster since the time of his joining the band up until the release of the Peppers’ album, Mother’s Milk. For the recording of the Peppers’ 5th studio album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, John switched from late 60’s CBS to other models made earlier. The musical styles of Blood Sugar Sex Magik differed notably from the techniques employed on the Chili Peppers' preceding album, Mother's Milk, and featured little use of heavy metal guitar riffs.
When John rejoined the Chili Peppers in 1998, the red 1962 Fender Jaguar was the only guitar he had with him. John admitted in an interview, “I love Fender Jaguars. I feel like Strats are an extension of me, and a Jaguar feels like the next closest thing to being an extension of me.” It was tremendously close to his heart. He used the Fender guitar in late 90’s and early 2000’s for warming up before shows. It also served as his greatest companion in his own time to come up with ideas for the new songs around that time. John also used to perform live with it quite frequently in 1999, most notably for the song ‘Around the World’.
Distinctive & charismatic melodic tendencies along with simple yet effective rhythm guitar parts built from triads defined John’s flair & fashion with the guitar. He was armored with the ability to play various styles of music without losing his signature style. Aside from a fascinating collection of guitars, he had a unique & overpowering presence on stage with the guitar at hand. A rather low-down, gaudy, loud and erratic groove form the key habits of John Frusciante’s signature style.