John Frusciante Explains How To Play “Can’t Stop” Properly

John Frusciante Explains How To Play “Can’t Stop” Properly

John Frusciante explains why 99.9% of guitarists are playing “Can’t Stop” completely wrong…


John Frusciante has some of the best muting techniques in the business – both left and right-hand muting. And this, he says, is the reason why nearly everybody that learns “Can’t Stop” gets it completely wrong. But what is the correct way to play it? Let’s find out from the man himself…

During an interview with Ultimate Guitar, way back in 2004, Frusciante sat down with the magazine to discuss his love of Fender guitars, why he’s started using Gibson Les Paul models, and why he switched from Orange amps over to Vox amps. It’s a great read, so if you’re interested in Frusciante, you should definitely check it out.

But one of the most interesting aspects of the interview, for me, at least, anyway, was Frusciante’s comments on the right and wrong way to play certain Red Hot Chilli Pepper songs. According to Frusciante, most players get nearly all the guitar parts wrong most of the time – and this is down to them NOT muting correctly.

John Frusciante Explains How He Plays Guitar

You see, when it comes to John Frusciante’s playing style, there is one key element you have to keep in mind: right and left-hand muting. Frusciante does this ALL THE TIME; it is part of how he gets his lively, twangy guitar tone.

John Frusciante Explains How To Play “Can’t Stop” Properly

But left-hand muting, whereby the strings you’re not playing are hit but do not create a sound, is not easy to get down – especially for beginners. But in order to nail “Can’t Stop” it is essential, as it is for many of Frusciante’s songs.

And because “Can’t Stop” is one of the Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s most popular songs, plenty of new guitarists will attempt to learn on. The song itself isn’t too complex, there’s only a selection of notes you need to hit to get the correct melody, but it is the STYLE with which they’re played that creates all the magic, and after hearing Frusciante play it, and someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing, there is a HUGE difference.

It’s sort of like Smoke on The Water; the song that EVERY beginner guitarist, at some point, learns to play. It is very simple. Anyone can play it. But when you hear Blackmore play it, well… it sounds more complete and this is down to the technical nuance of Blackmore’s playing which, for the most part, is the hardest thing to emulate.

How To Play “Can’t Stop” By The Chilli Peppers, According To John Frusciante

There’s a quote below from Frusciante, where he explains how he mutes, and the correct way to play “Don’t Stop” by the Chilli Peppers. Again, to get Frusciante’s guitar tone you will need to learn left-hand muting. There’s just no way around it. You’ll also probably need a Fender Strat to get the same kind of twang and bounce that Frusciante is known for.

I’m playing a two-note chord, or a three-note chord, I’m still hitting all the strings. I’m just blocking the strings I’m not using with my left hand. With my thumb or my other fingers … even if the chord is just a double-stop, even if it’s just two notes, I’m hitting all the strings. And I think that has a lot to do with it because most people will be playing a two-note chord in the middle of the guitar and they’re only picking those two notes because they’re scared to hit the other strings.

John Frusciante

Frusciante’s Muting Technique Explained By Frusciante

Say the part on ‘Can’t Stop,’ somebody will just learn that and play the individual notes that I’m playing. I’m hitting all the strings for every one of the notes even though I’m not ever hitting two notes at once. It’s a single note line but I’m hitting all the strings, and I’m just blocking all the ones with my left hand that aren’t being played. If I just sat there and played each note it wouldn’t sound like me at all. It’s a much more percussive thing. It comes very naturally to me but I’ve become conscious of it when I’ve shown people my things and I realize what I’m doing.

John Frusciante

As Frusciante notes above, this technique, while complex to learn as a beginner, is something that comes naturally to him – it is clearly something he “just did” when he started playing and stuck with it. If you are a beginner guitarist, and you’ve never heard of left-hand muting, it is one of the best techniques for making your playing sound tighter and more professional. This is the good news.

Left-Hand Muting: It’s Incredibly Difficult But Well Worth Learning

The bad news is that it is one of the hardest techniques, in my opinion, to actually learn and get good at. You effectively have to relearn how to fret notes because you need to incorporate your other fingers, usually, you’re thumb and ring finger, for muting purposes. Once you get it down, though, the sky’s the limit – you’ll sound like an infinitely better player.

To be frank, a solid foundation with guitar string muting – both left and right-hand muting – is one of the main things that separates an average guitarist from a very good one, with respect to overall tone and sound. If you want to sound like a tighter, more professional guitarist, you should invest plenty of time and effort in learning proper left-hand muting.

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