This month Stuart Ryan shows the more introspective acoustic side of Red Hot Chili Peppers' legendary funky-rock guitar master.
Stuart Ryan unveils the funky acoustic style of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante.
The ersTwhile member of red hot Chili Peppers is held in high regard, thanks to his funk rhythm chops and hendrix inspired soloing. however he also has an individual voice on acoustic guitar and that is what we will examine in this study. Frusciante joined the Chilis in 1989 as a replacement for the deceased hilel slovak, and made his first appearance on the mother’s milk album. The following album, 1991’s blood sugar sex magik, saw the band reach a new global audience.
however, this level of superstardom proved to be overwhelming for Frusciante and he left the band and then spiraled into a reclusive, drugaddicted lifestyle.
Thankfully, he re-emerged sober and re-joined the band for 1999’s smash hit album Californication. we’ll focus on his deft fingerpicked work from the blood sugar sex magik era for this study, athough it’s also worth checking out his solo material to hear more acoustic at play.
Coming from a musical family, John's first influences were from the punk rock scene, but then he gravitated towards classic rock guitarists like Jimmy Page, Jimi hendrix and David Gilmour. latterly Johnny marr became a huge influence on Frusciante, who was drawn in particular to The smiths’ guitarist's creative use of chords. Frusciante is best known as a pioneering funk-rock player through his work with the red hot Chili Peppers and these days he eschews the guitar more and more in favour of electronic, programmed soundscapes. however, there are acoustic gems in his back catalogue from the uptempo strumming of breaking The Girl to the introspective, melodic figure of I Could have lied. For this study we’ll look at how he creates memorable, fingerpicked acoustic passages and how he embellishes standard chord progressions with more interesting chords, often using open strings to add extra colour to the basic harmony.
For this study we’ll examine how Frusciante might build an acoustic part around a standard chord sequence in b minor, using embellished chordal ideas to create riffs, and go beyond standard major and minor chords to add 7ths and open strings for more texture. he often favours a strong picking hand attack so don’t be afraid to dig in and ‘grab’ the strings – check out the intro to Funky monks and you’ll hear how aggressive his picking hand can be! when playing the chords section of this study you may find it useful to use the fretting hand thumb to fret the notes on the sixth string, thus making it easier to leave the open strings ringing clearly – this is a technique that was especially popular with guitarists from the 60s (especially Jimi hendrix) and has also found favour with players as diverse as stevie ray Vaughan, Frusciante and Pat metheny.
For this study we’ll look at how John Frusciante creates memorable picked passages and chord progressions.
John Frusciante in his laid-back acoustic mode