Skip to main content

How Eddie Van Halen Helped John Frusciante Score a Wah Pedal

(Image credit: Ethan Miller (Van Halen), MJ Kim (Frusciante)/Getty Images)

Anyone who’s heard John Frusciante’s work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers knows the man loves the wah pedal. And not just any wah pedal but the Ibanez WH10, a pedal from the Eighties.

The WH10 had a switch that adjusted the frequency range for use with guitars and basses, and it had a depth control to control the effect’s intensity.

Unfortunately, the popular pedal was also made of plastic. And under the foot of a guitarist like Frusciante, the WH10 was not going to last long, especially when he loved the sound it made.

Frusciante’s RHCP guitar tech Dave Lee recently spoke with JFEffects.com and told them about the guitarist’s experience with the WH10 and how a certain player by the name of Eddie Van Halen once helped Lee score one when none could be found.

“The WH-10’s were always a problem,” Lee tells the site. “I was constantly on the lookout for them. I had just about every gearhead in SoCal on the lookout for them. We did a show in Moscow where John had broken our last one the show before.

“Before the show I told John, ‘We are out of wah wahs.’ John said, ‘Well, we just won’t do the songs with wah wah.’ I thought, That’ll make for a short set. Somehow we got through it.

“One of my friends that was on the lookout was a guy named Matt Bruck (Eddie Van Halen’s guy). Matt called me and said he’d found one, but I had to go up to [Van Halen’s] house to pick it up.

“As I pull up to the end of the driveway, there’s Eddie himself, standing in the driveway with the WH-10 in his hands, looking very confused. He says to me, ‘Why would he use a piece of shit like this?’

“I said, ‘They sound great! But they break all the time. This one here is our only backup.’ (Now I’m kinda blown away a bit that I’m standing there talking to Eddie Van Halen.)

“Then he says, ‘Well, don’t tell him that you have this one. When I think a pedal of mine is the only one I have, I’m a lot more careful with it.’

“Roadie advice from E.V.H. Lol. That was pretty cool."

For those curious about the WH10, Ibanez has reissued it as the WH10V2.

In the video below, the good folks over at Reverb.com share some of Frusciante’s potent gear pairings in their video “How to Sound Like John Frusciante on Guitar.”

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.