Californication Guitar Lesson – Red Hot Chili Peppers

In this video guitar lesson series we will take an in depth look at the Red Hot Chili Peppers' smash hit "Californication".

"Californication" was released on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 1999 album of the same name (their most commercially successful album to date). It was the fourth single off of that album and quickly shot to No.1 on the mainstream rock charts.

In this Californication guitar lesson I will demonstrate all of the guitars chords and solos just as John Frusciante played them on the original recording.

Frusciante starts the song off with a sparse arpeggio picked riff in A minor. He develops this riff a little further towards the end of the section, but still manages to keep everything relatively simple. One thing that you will notice in live videos of him playing "Californication", is that he favors using his thumb to finger the low bass notes. I mention this in the lesson as well but also show you a way to play the riff easily if you are one of those players that aren't very comfortable with using their thumb to finger notes on the 6th string.

From there we go to a simple 2 chord pre-chorus section. Once again he is employing his thumb here and for the Fmaj7 chord in the pre-chorus you may want to try playing it that way to fill up the sound with the low F bass note on the 6th string.

The only other part of the song that deals with chords is the chorus. Once again John Frusciante employs basic open position chord forms throughout the chorus.

Frusciante's guitar solo for "Californication" is quite unique. During the solo section the song modulates to the parallel major key of A major. Within this framework John Frusciante plays an extremely stark yet melodic guitar solo. He employs a large amount of bends including a few unison bends. However, there are no technical fireworks to deal with here and as long as you concentrate on keeping those bends in tune you shouldn't have much of a problem mastering this solo very quickly.

"Californication" is one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' most successful singles. If you are a fan of theirs, even casually, you owe it to yourself to learn how to play it! You may even pick up a few tricks. 🙂


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Californication Guitar Lesson Pt.1 - Chords & Rhythms

Californication Guitar Lesson Pt.2 - Guitar Solo


  1. Daniel Fuentes Guerrero on February 22, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Can you please do a lesson of scar tissue by the red hot chili peppers? I really want to learn this song.
    Sincerly Daniel

  2. Natalie Pauls on October 6, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Carl, I really like your lessons, thanks a lot!. I couldn’t find the chords for accompanying the solo, i believe they must be different because of the modulation, is that right?
    Cheers, Natalie

    • Carl Brown on October 18, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Hey Natalie, I am not sure. I would have to listen to the song again. Hehe

  3. Brendan Carroll on October 9, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Nice easy solo. Great lesson as always.

  4. Joe Josephs on November 7, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Can you do a lesson on Scar Tissue? That would be a great song to learn.

  5. John on February 22, 2022 at 1:07 am

    Hi Carl! How do you play those „dead notes“ in between the Chorus chords? Just open strings? Thanks!

  6. Keegan on September 16, 2022 at 10:19 am

    Hey can you do a lesson for the Slane Castle solo?

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