Gear Rundown: Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication

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Gear Rundown: Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication

red hot chili peppers californication
Words by Mixdown Staff

The prodigal son returns! We're diving into the gear and production behind the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californication.

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication. The conclusion of One Hot Minute‘s global tour marked a significant tipping point for the Californian Rockers. Guitarist Dave Navarro – John Frusciante’s supposed replacement – left the band to rejoin Jane’s Addiction.

The Peppers’ manager followed suit and abruptly quit, leaving the now three-piece band in complete disarray. Meanwhile, Frusciante was coming to grips with reality after a lengthy, harrowing relationship with drug abuse.

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

After completing three months in rehab, he was visited by long-time friend and bandmate Flea, who invited him to rejoin the band. Frusciante tearfully accepted the offer, and reunited with the Peppers after six long years of his absence.

In a similar vein to Frusciante’s new outlook on life, the foursome toned down their funk-rock approach of old and began to lean towards increasingly mellow and melodic pathways in their songwriting. It wasn’t long until Californication was born – and as they say, the rest is history.

To celebrate the prodigal son’s return with their forthcoming album less than a month away, we take a nostalgic trip down memory lane to check out the gear behind the Peppers’ biggest comeback album to date.


1962 Fender Jaguar

Frusciante lost his extensive collection of guitars in a house fire prior to his rehabilitation. The only guitar he owned when rejoining the band was this stock vintage Jaguar in Fiesta red, with a matching headstock.

This guitar mainly saw its bright, poking tones in certain live tracks º ‘Around the World’ being one of the most prominent. While Frusciante has been documented to adore the unique and quirky facets of the Jaguar, it definitely wasn’t the guitar he was most famously associated with.

1962 Fender Stratocaster

Without a doubt, this is Frusciante’s most iconic guitar in his arsenal, with its relic finish and slab rosewood fretboard. After rejoining the band with barely a penny to his name, Frusciante asked singer Anthony Kiedis for a loan to buy a new guitar – and it had to be a Strat.

After picking up this gorgeous 1962 sunburst Stratocaster from a Guitar Center, the guitar quickly became his number one, and was used in all future Chili Peppers records and live shows up until his second departure in 2009.

1955 Fender Stratocaster

This 1955 Stratocaster was another one of Frusciante’s acquisitions after his return, with its all maple neck and similar two-tone sunburst finish. This particular axe saw its fair share of use in the creation of Californication, and its subsequent world tour.

Frusciante bought this guitar second-hand, and believed it to be all stock. However, upon opening up the guitar with his tech, they discovered it contained a set of Seymour Duncan vintage Stratocaster pickups. Eventually, this drove Frusciante to replace the stock pickups in his ’62 Stratocaster with Seymour Duncan SSL-1’s in later years.

1955 Gretsch White Falcon

Last but not least, is Frusciante’s absolutely stunning Gretsch White Falcon. This guitar was most commonly seen live for the slower jams – ‘Otherside’ and ‘Californication’ in particular.

Modulus Flea Bass

Flea primarily used an original Modulus Flea Bass to record Californication, occasionally swapping to a Fender Jazz Bass and Taylor acoustic bass guitar for ‘Road Trippin’. The inimitable bassist was often seen on stage with his Modulus Flea bass finished in a flaky, silvery glitter.


Marshall Major 200W, Marshall JTM-45, Marshall Silver Jubilee, Fender Blackface Showman, Marshall Super Bass

Frusciante’s love for Marshall amplifiers extends all throughout his playing history. While recording Californication, the venerable guitarist preferred to use the Marshall Major in addition to the Super Bass in the studio.

When playing live, Frusciante would often mix and match the different amps to his taste, save for the Fender Showman – which was almost always paired with his White Falcon.

(Image: Rebecca Rogers/RLR)


Frusciante’s board was in its infantile stage at the time of Californication‘s recording, compared to the sprawling monstrosities of the Peppers’ Stadium Arcadium era. His board featured the now obsolete Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble and Ibanez WH-10 Wah (which has since been reissued, then discontinued again).

On the contrary, the remainder of Frusciante’s board consists of commonly-found stompboxes. An MXR Phase 90, Electro-Harmonix Russian Big Muff Pi, and a pair of Boss Distortions – the DS-2 Turbo Distortion, and the DS-1 – complete his touring pedalboard. Note the markedly absence of a tuner.

Flea toured with a modest selection of pedals, mainly using them for his explosive bass intros or solos. His “board” includes an Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron envelope filter, MXR Microamp, Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive, and a Jim Dunlop 105Q Wah pedal.

For more Red Hot Chili Peppers goodness, head here.