The unique guitars, amplifiers, effect units, keyboards and studio equipment of Frank Zappa

   George Duke
   Tommy Mars
   E-mu modules
   E-mu pictures
   Barcus Berry PUs
   ZG Facts  
   ZG Quotes
Mailing list

Zappa's Gear Facts

Spurious facts from my researches - as posted on Twitter

Steve Howe was offered Frank Zappa's custom 'Baby Snakes' SG before FZ, he turned it down as he preferred semi-acoustic guitars

The custom guitar that Rex Bogue made for Frank Zappa has been seen in the Hard Rock Cafe in the Cayman Islands

The keyboard next to Ian Underwood in the photograph inside the cover of Burnt Weeny Sandwich is a Gibson G-101 combo organ

Frank Zappa had a stereo pair of MXR Flanger stomp box circuits mounted in 'lunch box' cases in his late 1970's effects rack.

Frank Zappa labelled one of his vintage Telefunken U47 studio microphones 'Gandhi (The Peace Maker)'

After retiring them from touring, Frank Zappa used two Yamaha CS-80 synthesizers as studio keyboards for his E-mu modular synth

Frank Zappa's coffee machine on the 1988 tour was an Italian 1979 Mk 2 La Peppina single-lever portable (for you coffee geeks!)

Frank Zappa first recorded Twink Walks Amok with a Linndrum machine, then got Chad Wackerman to play the part with real drums

In the early days part of the Mothers of Invention's rig was 'a Harmon Kardon hi-fi amplifier hidden inside a peach box'

On the 1988 tour Frank Zappa used an Oberheim 'Studio' practice amp instead of his usual Pignose

Frank Zappa 's Hammond organ was modified so it could work a custom SynDrum unit from one manual and a Minimoog from the other

When Todd Yvega started working for Frank Zappa in late 1988 he lent him his own stereo Synclavier as FZ only had a mono system

Frank Zappa had a modified circuit board from a 1977 Mk3 ElectroHarmonix BigMuff fuzz box in his 1988 tour effects rack.

In 1967 Frank Zappa recorded a radio ad for the US Hagstrom agent saying he used 35 Hagstrom guitars on the Lumpy Gravy album!

In the late 1960s Frank Zappa had a beautiful blonde Gibson 'Super Jumbo' SJ-200N acoustic guitar. Current whereabouts unknown

Frank Zappa used an AKG 'Harry' dummy-head microphone to record Terry Bozzio’s Hands with a Hammer drum solo from YCDTOSA3

In the early 1980s Frank Zappa sometimes used the serrated edge 'SharkFin' picks invented by Swedish guitarist Stig Landström

Frank Zappa ’s Synclavier touring rack needed lead weights put in the base as it was top heavy & legally unsafe. Pity the crew!

Frank Zappa bought 2 rather expensive Alembic F-2B guitar preamps in 1974, one for himself and one for bassist Tom Fowler

Frank Zappa had a Rex Bogue custom guitar made, but returned it as he couldn't find his way around the 'tree of life' neck inlay

Frank Zappa 's sunburst 1960 Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster was a very rare guitar (only 41 made) but he still had it heavily modified

'Toshi' Doi who invented the Sony digital studio recorders used by Frank Zappa also had a key part in the development of the CD

For completeness: The serial number of the backup sunburst Stratocaster that Frank Zappa took on the 1988 tour is FZ0001

Frank Zappa used at least one 100 Watt Marshall amplifier at almost every gig he played from 1970 until his last tour in 1988

The serial number on the neck plate of Frank Zappa 's yellow Performance Guitar custom Stratocaster is '00001'

The lost piccolo snare drum Ruth Underwood refers to in 'Drummers of Frank Zappa' DVD was discovered safe and sound at the UMRK.

Frank Zappa 's 'Baby Snakes' SG guitar originally had a tiny silver hand holding a crystal ball for the pickup selector switch.

Frank Zappa and engineer Mark Pinske made around 1000 tape edits while re-mixing the London Symphony Orchestra recordings.

The tuners on Frank Zappa 's famous 'Shut Up'n Play Yer Guitar' Les Paul originally came from an Ibanez Artist series guitar.

In 1973 Frank Zappa not only fitted Barcus-Berry piezo pickups to Ruth Underwood's marimba, but also to Ralph Humphrey's drums.

Frank Zappa used a 200 watt Marshall Major amp with an 18" bass cab for the output from his Mutron Octave Divider. Heavy!

Frank Zappa 's 1968 Höfner bass guitar (used by Roy Estrada) had active electronics with built-in fuzz and bass-boost circuits.

Frank Zappa asked for his handprints at the LA Guitar Centre 'RockWalk' to be placed next to Leo Fender 's

Zappa fans escaping the fire at the Montreux Casino in 1971 used the bands Orange OR200 amps to break down a locked fire exit.

The Electric Sitar owned by Zappa (used by SteveVai in the '80s) was a customised original '60s Coral, not a Jerry Jones copy.

The Zappa / Hendrix Stratocaster now owned by Dweezil was set on fire by Jimi Hendrix at the Astoria London on March 31st 1967

The Telecaster that Frank Zappa traded for Mark Volman's Martin D18S was the one he played the night of the Rainbow accident.

Frank Zappa only broke one guitar string during the entire 1988 tour, despite using metal picks. Props to tech Merl Saunders Jr.

Frank Zappa took lessons in using and programming the Series 900 modular synthesizer from Moog pioneers Beaver & Krause in 1967

Frank Zappa took about 20 guitars with him on the 1988 tour, but used his two Strats with Midget Sloatman e.q.'s almost exclusively

Frank Zappa is holding a French Jacobacci Studio 3 guitar on the Joe's Domage cover, bought in Paris after the Montreux fire.

Oct.1975 FZ appeared on TV on with Australian comedian Norman Gunston, with his Ovation 1613-4 Classic electric acoustic guitar.

The lowest note on Frank Zappa's Bösendorfer Grand Piano has a frequency of 16.35Hz, almost an octave lower than a 5-string bass

Frank Zappa's Fender Jazzmaster passed into the hands of Paul Buff when FZ bought PAL studios in 1964, it was subsequently stolen

Standel first demonstrated the 25L15 Amplifier (about which Frank Zappa wrote Electric Aunt Jemima) at El Monte Legion Stadium