To talk about John Mayers gear is probably a never-ending task. He is one of the last guitar heroes our culture will ever have.
Not because there won’t be any good guitarists after him, but because of the way the industry is headed and new generations are being brought up, guitar-centered bands are not what we would call the norm now.
Guitars are reduced to second place instruments in most big mass-produced hits. Due to the music I’m listening to now; I have not felt the urge to pick up my guitar as much as I used to.
John Mayer is his own fresh air of music. He has a style that is unique and refined with finesse that accompanies his flavor of singing and his cockiness as a human being. He opens for himself live and has declared himself to be a recovering ego-addict.
He has no problem with swapping up guitar styles and playing any genres he does with the most peculiar guitars.
He also is as fluent with an acoustic guitar as he is with an electric, and his Nokia Theatre live performance is probably one of the most mind-boggling things I watched as a teen that made me push my limits as a guitarist.
Bottom Line Up Top: John Mayer plays a number of Fender Stratocaster guitars but has more recently paired up with PRS to make his Silver Sky Strats. He has an endless amount of pedals and uses one-of-a-kind Dumble amplifiers.
Interesting Read: John Mayer Pedalboard Setup.
John Clayton Mayer was born on October 16, 1977, in the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut (USA). During his childhood, Mayer was interested in music and began to play the clarinet but did not have very good results and abandoned it.
When he turned 13 years old, his father gave him his first guitar, thus discovering the instrument that would mark his life and would be the key to his success. Sometime later, a neighbor gave him a cassette tape of the American singer Stevie Ray Vaughan, thanks to which his fascination for music grew.
From that moment on, he began to attend guitar lessons. Mayer began to think about promoting his musical career, so he started to play in bars and concert halls in his town, and little by little, he gained recognition.
When he turned 17 years old, he suffered a heart attack and was admitted to the hospital; what he did not imagine is that his inspiration would come from that fiasco, as only a few days after the incident, he wrote his first lyrics.
John began to study at Berklee College of Music, but, being carried away by a classmate named Clay Cook, he abandoned his studies soon after, and both moved to Atlanta, where they formed a duo called LoFi Masters. Their career didn’t last due to differences between its members.
At that time, everything seemed to go wrong, and one could think that he had left his studies for nothing. But, nothing could be further from the truth because soon after, he received the help of a local producer and recorded Inside wants out and some songs composed together with Cook.
Mayers’ popularity proliferated thanks to a performance at the South by Southwest festival where he got Aware Records interested in him.
After incorporating him into several presentations and including him in the label’s compilation albums, by 2001, his debut album was released under the name of “Room for Squares,” several of the songs that composed it became a resounding success.
By 2003 Mayer won his first Grammy Award in the category Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. That same year he formed the John Mayer Trio, a Blues-Rock group with bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Steve Jordan.
Mayer’s fruitful career continued with the release, between 2003 and 2021, of six albums in which he has combined pop music with blues. His latest, Sob Rock, is a great throwback to ’80s sounds, melodies, and even music videos.
“John Mayer” and “Stratocaster” are two terms that go completely hand in hand.
Although it is not clear exactly which was his first guitar, it is known that since his first shows with the John Mayer Trio, he used Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Fender Custom models, adding to his collection other instruments from Eric Clapton’s line, also from Fender.
And so, having Vaughan as his great role model, Mayer also had his “custom” line of Fender guitars. The name of the product? The Black1, similar in name to the late Stevie Ray’s Number One.
Despite his historical relationship with Fender, the musician currently uses PRS (Paul Reed Smith) Stratocaster models, named Silver Sky -in four different colors -.
The body is made of alder, while the fingerboard is made of rosewood. In addition, the four finishes are equipped with 635JM capsules, which give a sound closer to the music of the ’60s and were created especially for this model:
Stevie Ray Vaughan Fender Stratocaster
Although John Mayers version might be one of a limited series of 100 “Number One” Strat guitars Fender presented at NAMM 2004.
The more common version of this guitar features gold hardware, alder wood, a Pao Ferro maple fretboard- one of the features that makes it so popular. It has a red tweed lining and some red iron-hot texas special single-coil pickups. The sound is spot on what twangy overdrive should be.
PRS Silver Sky
The Silver Sky guitar has a Stratocaster-like body but with some key differences. At first glance, the main difference is the headstock which is typical for PRS. This guitar has 22 frets, 25.5″ scale length, maple acoustic guitar bracing, and rosewood fretboard.
The fretboard radius is 7.25,” and its nut is made of bone. As for the electronics, it has three pickups designed by PRS in the typical configuration of Strat guitars (with single-coil pickups in the bridge, middle, and truss rod), all three 635JM. Its tuners are an interesting combination of classic style with the PRS locking system.
The sound of the Silver Sky is undoubtedly superior as far as Strat guitars go. Each of the pickups offers the best of the classic Strat sound but without having that unpleasant brightness that some models present, especially in the bridge and bridge/middle pickups.
Position four (activating the middle and arm pickups) presented a really spectacular sound. It’s the typical sound used for Funk, but on the Silver Sky, it took on a more musical color than on other Strat models I’ve tried.
John Mayer just released his SE model for this guitar, which is the more affordable version of its bigger sister. A guitar just under a grand that mostly resembles this Silver Sky, but cutting enough corners to get it out to most intermediate guitarists. Fair play.
Related read: PRS Silver Sky vs Strat
Martin Acoustic OM-28JM
Inspired by the unique artist’s first Signature model, the OM-28JM introduces the OMJM John Mayer. This more economical variant has inherited many features from the old John Mayer Signature without skimping on sound and playability.
The OMJM relies on solid Engelmann spruce combined with East Indian Palo Santo wood for a clear and balanced sound image, which offers plenty of space for articulation and dynamics precisely to pick players.
Thanks to the flat neck shaping and the low string position, the OMJM plays smoothly and comes in the old C.F. Martin hand art, precise intonation, and perfect finish. If you are interested, be ready to dish out over four grand for this beast.
Fender Stratocaster “The black one”
This is one of the most beautiful relic finishes on a strat I’ve ever seen. He used it at his Berklee Clinic performances and class. It is probably based on his SRV Fender specs but is so “customized” that I’m not sure what model it is exactly. The tone, jingle, and growl are unparallel on this guitar.
Jackson Custom Shop Limited 30th Anniversary
This pink, very pink majestic Jackson guitar is the one John Mayer uses in his performances on Ellens Show doing “Still Feel Like Your Man.” It is a huge aesthetical contrast with his suit and style of song. It pops out so much that it is comically entertaining.
Vox, Orange, Marshall, Fender, Bogner, we could spend hours mentioning well-known brands in the world of amplification.
However, there are other lesser-known names with much more prestige. This is where the name of Alexander “Howard” Dumble, an amp manufacturer who worked on equipment for artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bonnie Raitt, comes in.
Dumble does all the work by hand, with no outside help, and often the resulting sound is praised by experts. These days, to buy a Dumble is to spend at least US$50,000, and in some cases, they have been resold for up to four times that value.
John Mayer has one of the few Dumble amplifiers that are still around on the planet. In his case, the cornerstone of his gear is the Steel-string singer, the same one Vaughan had since the mid-’80s, and perhaps as important, if not more so, than the Stratocasters that have accompanied him.
“It’s one of the best amps made in the world today,” Rene Martinez told Premium Guitar.
In addition to the legendary Dumble, the American guitarist has a Two Rock John Mayer Signature headstock and another Fender Bandmaster.
However, in recent performances, he has also used a Paul Reed Smith J-MOD 100 (also a signature). In addition to this, he uses six amplification cabinets, called “Alessandro Cabinets.” These have an open back with Celestion Heritage speakers. For the shows, they are miked mainly by classic Shure SM7Bs.
Effects and Modelling Equipment
Although the above equipment is part of his basic amplification, John Mayer has used a large number of other devices, some of which would even go against the purists.
On specific occasions, the guitarist has used Axe-FX III preamps (from Fractal Audio) and Kemper profiling amps, known for emulating tube amps and combining effects, thus reducing the number of pedals and the size of the equipment.
They also have communities dedicated to capturing specific amps and commercializing the configuration profiles (as is the case of Michael Britt with Kemper).
John Mayer has always preferred using heads, cabinets, and effects pedals. In this last section, the Grammy-winning performer has gone through a wide range of devices to shape his sound to get it to where it is today.
To begin the breakdown, ignoring the order of arrangement in the pedalboard, I’ll first mention his distortion pedals.
- Ibanez Tube Screamer: One of the most frequent pedals in most overdrive setups is the Ibanez tube screamer, currently having in its configuration the TS10, while in the past, it had the mythical TS808.
- Mesa Boogie Flux Five: In addition to this base, his effects chain includes a Mesa Boogie Flux Five (an overdrive hybrid with five-band EQ settings).
- Marshall Bluesbreaker: In his rack, he includes a Marshall Bluesbreaker -similar in design to the Shred Master used by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead.
Another important point in Mayer’s sound is the number of delays he has in pedal format. Currently, his setup includes two effects from the Japanese company Providence (also used by Ken Kitamura of L’Arc en Ciel):
- Chrono Delay DLY-4: This is a top-notch quality delay pedal with a parallel signal chain that is capable of storing two different delay effects at once. It also mixed analog and digital signals at once, giving us a very high-quality signal with an easy and intuitive interface.
- Providence DLY-83: This is a previous version of the aforementioned pedal, sorely sought after on eBay. It emulates the classic ’80s delay sound and a very sturdy dark purple casing.
- Eventide’s Time factor: A popular delay pedal that includes MIDI inputs and outputs, in addition, to reverse effects and its function as a looper. It also includes software updates via a USB port.
Other modulation effects that he has in his pedalboard are the Boss OC-3 octave pedal, which adds more bass sounds taking the same note as a reference (similar to the Digitech Whammy, but working in a partial and more limited way); an Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron Plus, which functions as a sound filter and can have a separate effects chain; a Xotic brand wah (XW-1); a SlideRIG Compact Deluxe Mk2 compressor from Origin Effects; and a Warped Vinyl MkI analog vibrato from Chasebliss Audio. The list goes on and on.
Question: What Disease Does John Mayer have?
Answer: John Mayer has had a vocal granuloma in the past, having had to have surgery and even cancel shows because of it.
Question: How Much is John Mayer Worth?
Answer: John Mayer has an estimated net worth of around 40 million dollars. Not bad for a guitar player. Most of his fame comes from his personal life, apart from his musical career.
CNBC says that he has blown about 25% of his net worth on expensive watches, mind you. he even shows an expensive Rolex off in an interview together with Kanye West.
Question: Who Was John Mayer’s Guitar Teacher?
Answer: Tomo Fujita, who has a youtube channel that you are missing out on if you are not following yet. Tomo Fujita came to the states in ’86 and became one of Berklee’s most prestigious guitar teachers.
Question: How Many Hours a Day Does John Mayer Play the Guitar?
Answer: At first, I would be quite sure he would be playing an average of 8 hours a day, like any other Berklee student. Nowadays, he plays 4-5 hours a day, he says.
Question: What Kind of Music Does John Mayer Play?
Answer: While he is not a shredder, he is a very technical player, and his genres go from pop to blues, soul, and jazz.
Question: What Other Instruments Does John Mayer Play?
Answer: Apart from the guitar (electric and acoustic), he also sings, plays mandolin and keys.
Question: Who is John Mayers Greatest Inspiration?
Answer: He himself says it must be B.B. King, who he has played together with several times.
John Mayer is a guitarist and composer with great gifts and resounding musical successes which has also collaborated with great artists such as Eric Clapton, B. B King, and other music legends throughout his career.
He is not only known for his music but also for covering other areas, becoming a graphic designer, philanthropist, record producer, and even a comedian; he is also considered one of the greatest artists in pop-rock and blues rock genres.
If you didn’t know John Mayer yet, I’m glad you read this article. And if you did know him, looking into his gear, technique, and style in more detail can really help you develop a spark that each unique guitarist has to develop. Learn from the greatest, and find your own sound!
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