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Juan Alderete de la Peña (born September 5, 1963) is an American musician, best known as the longtime bassist of Racer X and the Mars Volta.

Juan Alderete
Juan Alderete.jpg
Alderete at Earthquaker Day 2018
Background information
Birth nameJohn Peter Alderete
Born (1963-09-05) September 5, 1963 (age 56)
Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • Musician
  • songwriter
InstrumentsBass guitar
Years active1985–present
Associated acts



Alderete was born in Los Angeles, CA the fourth of five children. In the 70s, the Alderete family moved to Novato.

Son of the late civil rights activist Angel Manuel Alderete[1], he was exposed to jazz music on a weekly basis by his father, who often played it around the Alderete household. Alderete's other early influences included his brother's progressive rock albums, which included bands such as Yes, Rush, King Crimson, etc. He started learning the basics of the bass guitar when he was 16, and was influenced by such players as Jaco Pastorius, Geddy Lee, and Stanley Clarke. His fascination with the bass guitar revolved around it being a somewhat "underappreciated" instrument at the time.

Alderete enrolled in Musicians Institute in Hollywood (Los Angeles, CA). He enjoyed his time in the school, explaining that he was able to learn techniques and styles that he had never even considered prior to his enrollment. Alderete and fellow student Paul Gilbert started their musical relationship during an audition that Alderete held to find a drummer. Alderete showed up at the audition, bringing a Musician's Institute student and drum-playing friend named Bill Lescohier. Although Lescohier was turned down for the part, Gilbert was impressed with Alderete's bass playing; the two quickly sought to form a speed metal band that would incorporate Gilbert's advanced neoclassical metal guitar technique with Alderete's solid bass lines. To complete the band, Harry Gschoesser joined to fill the drummer position, and Jeff Martin became the vocalist; the group named themselves Racer X (a title that Lescohier had suggested). With this lineup, the band released their debut album, Street Lethal, in 1986. Alderete has been recording with Racer X ever since (note: there was a ten-year hiatus starting from 1989), and their latest album was released in 2002, titled Getting Heavier. Alderete is credited as John Alderete on all Racer X albums.

However, four years after the creation of the band, Gilbert left Racer X to form the band Mr. Big. The remaining members of Racer X decided to stay active in music, although they went their separate ways. For the next ten years, Alderete would be involved in several different bands (including The Scream, DC-10, Big Sir, and Distortion Felix) as well as becoming an instructor at Musicians Institute. Not long after, he released his first instructional video on bass techniques and modulation.

Although Extreme Volume II: Live was released in 1992, Racer X was not actually reunited. That year, Paul Gilbert was touring with Mr. Big, and Alderete was recording with a hard rock band called The Scream. In actuality, the album was just a compilation of songs that were recorded in concerts before the hiatus. However, around 1999, Alderete got a telephone call from Paul Gilbert, who asked if there was any possibility of recording another Racer X album. Juan agreed, and Racer X reunited to record Technical Difficulties, which features new material as well as older songs that were never recorded.

In 2003, while working as a radio producer, Alderete received a call from Omar Rodríguez-López of The Mars Volta while on their European tour with an offer to audition for the band:

He went on to record Frances The Mute with them in 2004, and has played bass on every Mars Volta album since, as well as a number of solo albums by Omar Rodríguez-López. Since joining the band, he has played at Madison Square Garden and was featured on the front cover of the March 2005 issue of Bass Player Magazine.

Aside from The Mars Volta, Alderete has been invested in his own musical projects. Big Sir is a group composed of Juan and singer Lisa Papineau that has released four albums. Vato Negro is a group with a revolving door of musicians; originally a duo of Alderete and drummer Matt Sherrod, it has since featured Deantoni Parks, Omar Rodriguez-López, and Jon Theodore in various lineups. Alderete has played shows with both groups in 2010, in California and Fuji Rock Festival in Japan.

In addition, Alderete co-produced the film The Sentimental Engine Slayer with Rodríguez-López and former Mars Volta bandmate Paul Hinojos.[3]

After The Mars Volta broke up in 2013, Alderete joined vocalist Cedric-Bixler Zavala in his new band, Zavalaz, and later became the touring bassist for Deltron 3030. Juan also runs a website dedicated to showcasing effects pedals and other musical gear called

On November 5, 2017. Alderete filled in bass for Marilyn Manson at the Ozzfest Meets Knotfest festival, replacing longtime bassist Jeordie White, a.k.a. Twiggy Ramirez. He has been Manson's bass player on tour since.

Personal lifeEdit

Alderete lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Anne.

On May 1, 2007, Alderete announced that he had been diagnosed with polycythemia vera, a rare blood disease. However he also mentioned that he is feeling fine, will experience no side effects from the medication, and will continue to play music.[4] Since discovering his condition, Alderete had agreed to become a spokesman for the MPD Foundation.[citation needed]

Technique and equipmentEdit

Playing styleEdit

Influenced by players like Jaco Pastorius, Alderete's main playing technique is to use the "standard" fingers to pluck the strings with his right hand (two fingers: index and middle). He occasionally uses Dunlop Gel picks, as well as his signature picks. He is also known to use two-handed tapping techniques and even slapping/popping.

Bass guitarsEdit

In 2007, Alderete sold some of his Fender bass guitars on eBay and donated money to the MPD Foundation for research on blood disorders.

The Laklands that Alderete had on tour are:

  • a white Darryl Jones Signature
  • a black custom fretless
  • a red Bob Glaub signature

Lakland had made Alderete a bass guitar that if popular, would become a signature model, assumed to be based on his modified 70's fretless Fender Jazz that he used during the Frances the Mute tour.

  • Darryl Jones model body
  • Fretless neck with painted lines
  • Volume/Volume/Tone. (Passive)
  • Precision/Jazz pickup orientation
  • "Curb" style thumb rest
  • Killswitch

For live shows he was most recently using a white model with a white pickguard and maple fingerboard.


  • Mid-'70s Ampeg SVT Amplifier (now Ampeg SVT-VR heads with 8x10" SVT cabs)
  • Early '70s Acoustic 360 preamp and folded 18" cabinet (the "Jaco rig")

Alderete was featured on the first issue of the online magazine Resonate, talking about his Ampeg Rig.

Effects PedalsEdit


  • a short and incomplete list starting with...
  • Boss CS-2 Compressor/Sustainer
  • MXR DC Brick
  • Electro-Harmonix Bass Synthesizer ('70s version)
  • Two DigiTech Whammy IV Pedals
  • moogerfooger MF-102 Ring Modulator
  • DigiTech Digital Delay
  • Boss LS-2 Line Selector
  • Fulltone Fuzz
  • Musitronics Mutron III
  • Musitronics Mutron Micro V
  • Electro-Harmonix Sovtek Fuzz (second issue)
  • MXR Phase 100
  • Digitech Bass Synth Wah
  • Boss PN-2 Pan Tremolo
  • Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner
  • Two Boss CS-2 Compressor/Sustainers
  • Dunlop Bass Crybaby Wah
  • Boss OC-2 Octave
  • Boss DD-3 Digital Delay
  • Wren and Cuff Phat Phuk B
  • Wren and Cuff Tri Pie 70
  • Line 6 DL4 Delay
  • Ernie Ball Volume Pedal
  • DOD Meat Box Sub Octave Pedal
  • EarthQuaker Devices Hummingbird [6]
  • EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath


With Racer XEdit

With The ScreamEdit

  • Let It Scream (1991)
  • Takin' It to the Next Level (Recorded in 1993, unreleased)

With DC-10Edit

  • Co-Burn (1995)

With Distortion FelixEdit

  • Record (1999)
  • I'm An Athlete (1999)

With Big SirEdit

With Halo OrbitEdit

  • Halo Orbit (2016/2017)

With The Mars VoltaEdit

With Omar Rodríguez-LópezEdit

With Free Moral AgentsEdit

  • Control This (2010)

With Vato NegroEdit

  • Bumpers (2008)
  • TBA – (TBA)

With ZavalazEdit

  • All Those Nights We Never Met (unreleased)

With Lil PeepEdit

Guest appearancesEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ Back on Track
  3. ^ Da oportunidad a talento de EP – Edición Cd. Juárez
  4. ^ "RACER X Bassist Diagnosed With Rare Blood Disease". May 2, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^

External linksEdit