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Watch John Frusciante Hard at Work in the Studio

John Frusciante, 1991
John Frusciante, 1991 (Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

30 years ago, the Red Hot Chili Peppers stood poised on the edge of international stardom as they prepared for the release of their breakthrough masterpiece, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The album proved John Frusciante to be one of the greatest guitarists of his generation and he rapidly ascended to guitar hero status.

Many hours of fly-on-the-wall video footage was captured for the Funky Monks rockumentary which chronicles the recording of Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Among the film's many great moments is the sequence where Frusciante nails his solo for the song “Mellowship Slinky in B Major.”

John Frusciante performing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, 1991

John Frusciante performing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in New York, 1991 (Image credit: Bob Berg/Getty Images)

Speaking to Guitar Player in 1991 about the recording Frusciante said, “I like to keep things simple. Those MESA/Boogie amps were too hard for me to understand. For most of the basics, I used two Marshalls: a guitar head for edge and a bass head for punch and low end. I split the signal with a DOD stereo chorus pedal. For some overdubs I used a Fender H.O.T. practice amp, but for a lot of parts, even solos, I just went straight into the board. You can get amazing, funky tones that way. In fact, a lot of my distortion is from overdriving the board."

And when asked about his choice of electric guitars the guitarist revealed, “My main guitar was a ’58 Strat, though I used a Les Paul reissue on a couple of things. I also have a ’57 Strat, which someone had screwed up by putting on those big stupid frets that everyone uses these days. I vomited and told them to make it fretless. That’s what I used for the “Mellowship Slinky” solo. Some people think those big frets help your vibrato, but I make a point of using as little vibrato as possible, though I might do it more if I had long, pretty black hair. And I didn’t use any whammy bar.”

Buy Funk Monks here.

Guitar Player magazine October 1991 issue

Guitar Player magazine October 1991 issue (Image credit: Future)

Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros, and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist magazine, MusicRadar, and Guitar World, as well as contributions for specialist books and blogs. He is also a lifelong musician.