Ongoing History Daily: John Fruscinate’s out-of-tune guitar
One of the biggest songs the Red Hot Chili Peppers ever released is “Scar Tissue” from the Californication album. If you’re a guitarist and you’ve tried to play it, you’ll notice that there’s something wonky with what John Frusciante plays. His guitar is actually out of tune. The B string was slightly off—slightly flat—which lends a special sonic quality to everything that he plays.
The technical term is “microtonal,” which describes the sounds that lie between the standard twelve notes of the Western chromatic scale.
This B-string’s out-of-tune-ness—which was a total accident, by the way, not done consciously and went completely unnoticed by everyone during the record session—somehow adds some extra expression to the song. So if you’re a guitarist and you want to get “Scar Tissue” right, loosen up that B-string just a tiny bit.