Few guitarists induce the kind of rabid gear fandom that Red Hot Chili Peppers funk-rock warrior John Frusciante stirs up. Fans pore over every detail of his guitar rig – fervour over a clear shot of his gigantic pedalboard earlier this year was unmatched.
The rumors began when Frusciante was spotted playing what appeared to be a prototype replica of his trusty sunburst Strat at an Orlando show in September 2022. The wear was different, sure, but there were enough similarities to make fans take notice, including Instagram account jfgear and YouTuber Justin Jeske.
There was no sign of the repro again until a sighting at a Glendale, Arizona show on May 14 2023 reignited the fire, before images of John’s guitar tech, Henry Trejo, taking delivery of six Fender guitar boxes in San Diego, CA poured fuel on the flames.
This was compounded by the fact that the boxes in question were of the slimline variety that normally houses made-in-Mexico Fender models, sparking whisperings of an affordable Frusciante signature.
But is there any truth to the theories doing the rounds? We reached out to Trejo, who provided invaluable gear insight during our marathon interview with the RHCP legend last year. And what he told us should slow the rumor mill to a stop.
After we quizzed the tech on the widely circulated image, Trejo responded, “I know exactly what photo you’re referring to, and unfortunately, it’s not what everyone is hoping for (a signature guitar). I don’t have any more details to offer on that at this time.”
So, what was hiding in those boxes? They could be backups for Frusciante’s vintage Stratocasters, or even prototypes to replace those fabled instruments. Heck, they could be warmup guitars or just electrics for noodling around on in his hotel room. Or maybe John was just curious to play some modern production-line guitars – back in October 2022, a fresh-looking Offset Telecaster was spotted in alleged photos of his rehearsal guitar rack.
We already know that Trejo and Frusciante have an ongoing dialog with Fender – Froosh’s maple-necked ’55 Strat was kitted out with a new set of pickups from Senior Master Builder Paul Waller for the reunion era, and bandmate Flea has a signature Jazz Bass – so these developments could simply be part of that relationship. Signature model or no signature model, Frusciante’s devotion to Strats makes him a major ambassador for the brand.
That’s not to say a John Frusciante signature guitar could never happen, but right now, it seems unlikely. We’ll keep you updated on any developments.