John Mayer has worn plenty of hats during a job spanning practically two decades. From Grammy award winning and chart topping pop artist, to incendiary blues-rock trio work and also roots inflammation albums. Probably of most interest to Buzz regulars is his many recent occupational with the heavy Dead and also Co, which functions Grateful Dead alumni Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, invoice Kreutzmann and Jeff Chimenti alongside former Allman Brother, Oteil Burbridge. At the love of this diversity is Mayer’s guitar playing, heavily steeped in the blues and also honed in the woodshed as a teen poring over Stevie beam Vaughan and Eric Clapton albums. Mayer’s tone has actually long to be studied and also in this Buzz equipment guide we take a look in ~ his tools of choice.

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John Mayer electric Guitars

Mayer is in the possession the a far-ranging guitar collection, reportedly between 200-400 pieces depending on your source. For this write-up we will emphasis on the key guitars that have defined his career, specific strats, his two PRS signature models and a few other axes of note.

Mayer’s SRV obsession do the Fender Stratocaster one obvious selection of electrical guitar. His first electric was a black Fender Squire strat, followed by a white design customized through ‘JM’ initials top top the scratchplate – and also obvious nod come Stevie beam Vaughan’s initial laden ‘SRV’ guitar.

Mayer in 2001 v his 1996 SRV Signature Strat

His very first ‘real’ etc was a 1996 Fender Stevie ray Vaughan signature model, purchased v gas station paychecks and further counter by commerce in a Takamine acoustic and also Mesa Boogie drive pedal. Some subtle mods were made through Mayer: swapping the end the black color SRV adorned scratchplate for a tortoise covering design and engraving his name on the backplate. This sunburst etc would function heavily in Mayer’s early on career (2001-2003) and also would ultimately inspire some design cues because that his very own Fender signature model.

Mayer road testing a prototype of his Fender Signature model in 2004

In July 2005, Fender released the man Mayer Artist collection Signature. Whilst the guitar featured part similarities to his initial SRV – a sunburst complete with faux tortoise shell guard, vintage approved 21 stress neck v a huge profile, a bigger 50s style belly edge – it also made some significant departures. The neck profile change from an oval D layout to a slightly rounder C shape, the frets stayed jumbo yet were contempt narrower, the tremolo to be a an ext conventional best handed model, the neck radius a more traditional Fender 9.5” as opposed come the SRV’s Gibson-esque 12”. Arguably the many noteworthy appointment was the consist of of Fender’s “Big Dipper” pickups, apparently designed to scoop the end midrange in opposition to the pronounce bark that the SRV’s Texas Specials. At the moment these pickups were not available separate come the guitar and also thus added another class of secret for the ton hounds already dissecting Mayer’s signal path. This design was discontinued in 2014 as soon as Mayer and also Fender parted ways.

Mayer has been spotted through a slew of other Strats, specific two other SRV models, GT stripe tradition Shop models indigenous the early on 2000’s and also the at an early stage ‘60s sunburst top top the covering of his 2nd album, more heavier Things.

Arguably, Mayer’s most recognizable Strat is recognized as “The black One”, “Black1” or “BLK1”. This etc was built in late 2004 by the Fender custom Shop who affiliated Mayer in the process. According to Mayer, the relic complete was chosen an ext to permit wood resonance than aesthetic reasons, citing the Fender Rory Gallagher version as a etc with more bare timber than finish. The pickups to be voiced similarly to the huge Dippers, although custom wound through the practice Shop. This guitar finished up all over Mayer’s 3rd record, Continuum and on parts of battle Studies.


The black color One was a hit through fans and also Fender subsequently produced two models because that public sale. The Fender john Mayer special Edition Black1 to be spec’d very likewise to the 2005 signature series, upgraded with gold hardware and an exclude, gig bag. Production was limited to 500 guitars. Keep in mind the conventional black finish in the picture above.

A practice Shop replica was also crafted i m sorry painstakingly reproduced the functions of the original guitar, down to the worn finish. Only 83 of this guitars were built, with a $15K price tag. They have been spotted on the used market with questioning prices end $30K. Third party builders have because been copying these guitars as result of their unavailability.

Mayer wails ~ above a Fender Monterey Strat top top “Slow dance in a burn Room”.

Whilst probably synonymous through Strats – and also in recent years PRS guitars – Mayer has actually ventured beyond these waters at times play Duesenburgs, a hybrid strat/tele tuned to open up Esus2, SG’s, 335s and even a shreddy Jackson soloist. A Gibson L5 has been employed for studio and also live work.

A Novak fanned-fret guitar lurks in the lift of the cover arts on Mayer’s debut album Room because that Squares. Mayer’s admiration for Charlie Hunter – at the moment a Novak player – might well have played right into the acquisition of the guitar. Special a lengthened scale size on the base side this etc was offered for the fall C tuning offered for the struggle “Neon”.


After leave Fender in 2014 Mayer started working through Paul Reed blacksmith of PRS guitars. In 2016 Mayer started playing a PRS super Eagle in reflects with Dead and also Company. The super Eagle featured some really different attributes to the strats Mayer had been previously playing. The scale size was a slightly shorter 25.375 inch, 3 humbuckers (wound come Mayer’s specs) and a 24 stress neck. The controls watch complicated, however essentially the guitar sporting activities a 5 means switch with a grasp volume and also tone. The extr switches allow coil switching for each pickup and kick in a preamp with treble boost.

Mayer wrings tasty licks native his PRS supervisor Eagle onstage through Dead and also Co. On “Brown Eyed Woman”. Note the two PRS half stacks in action.

In march 2018, and after two years of development, PRS announced the launch of the Silver sky John Mayer model. Instantly recognizable together taking countless of that is cues native Mayer’s Fender past, the silver Surfer was met v polarized opinions. To some, the etc was a mere copy; just a strat v a PRS headstock. Others much more soberly saw it as a culmination of Paul Reed Smith’s exacting guitar science in collaboration with Mayer’s vision of his can be fried strat.

The Silver sky featured a strat exact 25.5 inch range length, solitary coil pickups voiced come Mayer’s specifications – some 8 to adjust of prototypes were tried – and a bolt top top neck. The neck radius was a surprising 7.25 inch scale, absolutely the roundest and most vintage of Mayer’s miscellaneous signature models.

Paul Reed Smith and also Mayer’s lengthy time tech, Rene Martinez speak in depth around the PRS silver Sky.

John Mayer Acoustic Guitars


Whilst Mayer has actually said the is many comfortable on electrical guitar, acoustic guitars have featured prominently in his work. One acoustic collection is common place in his solo shows. Mayer frequently turns to Martin for his acoustics and has co-designed several signature models.

Early in his career Mayer was mostly seen through a martin DM3MD – the Dave Matthews signature dreadnaught – and also a boy name 000-14 Cutaway Custom.


In 2003 Martin exit the OM-28JM limited Edition, a signature model featuring a solid spruce top, eastern Indian rosewood earlier and sides and also a mahogany neck. Aesthetic appointments encompass sterling silver- binding, tradition inlays and also Martin’s iconic herringbone rosette binding.

Mayer’s fine worn 2003 signature model in action live in 2017

Production top top the restricted edition was restricted to 404 guitars which quickly sold out. Martin comment by producing a production line design – the OMJM – which stays as part of the that company line.

A second Martin participation was released in 2012, the smaller bodied 00-45SC. Although originally reluctant to be named on the etc – Mayer wanted to be recognized as a co-designer – that relented and also the 00-42SC john Mayer was released together the result.

John Mayer Amplifiers

Not unequal his approach to guitars, Mayer has referred to as on a selection of amps transparent his career. Frequently he has used solitary channel amps through a most headroom, although his at an early stage work featured a selection of short to mid wattage Fender amps such together Vibro Kings, Princetons and also Deluxe Reverbs.

Mayer’s Vibro-King flanked by a pair of 2 Rocks (pre signature series).

During the tracking of heavier Things, and also again influenced by Stevie beam Vaughan, Mayer started to look for out a Dumble amp and ended up through two stole String Singers. The amps, do by Alexander Dumble, had actually attained a close to mythical condition thanks come their use by SRV, Carlos Santana, Larry Carlton and Robben Ford.

Mayer likewise started using two Rock amps as at an early stage as 2005, the very first of which was a custom Reverb head. After some modifications to the design, most notably removing the command channel, a john Mayer Signature 2 Rock was released in 2006.

By 2010, Mayer was playing live through a Dumble, his signature 2 Rock and also a Fender Bandmaster running at the same time through Allesandro open back cabinets.

Mayer’s amp rig circa 2010, a Fender Bandmaster head (out the picture) also ran at the same time with the Dumble and Two-Rock.

Mayer’s cooperation with PRS has prolonged into amps. In January 2017 a signature amp, the J-MOD 100, was released. Together Mayer announced in the succeeding NAMM show, he was in search of a single amp that captured the disparate aspects he was in search of in his multi-amp rigs.


The J-MOD runs four 6L6 power tubes in ~ 100 watts. Like his Dumbles and signature 2 Rocks, the J-MOD is a single channel machine – albeit with a footswitchable obtain boost.

Mayer talks with the features of his J-Mod 100 PRS amp.

Mayer has been seen using a pair that J-MOD 100 amps on the roadway with Dead and also Co. At part shows, he has actually been spotted playing through a trio of Fender luxurious Reverbs augmented v JBL speakers and also a Victoria outboard reverb.

John Mayer guitar Effects


Mayer bring away two unique approaches to regulating his results live. For his own headlining shows, that runs sophisticated Bob Bradshaw custom Audio electronics switching rig. When touring v with Dead and also Co, Mayer has actually distilled his go-to pedals right into a smaller solitary pedalboard.

In 2010, Mayer’s rig consisted of pedals housed in a rack and also controlled by a CAE footswitch. By 2017, Mayer was still using a CAE because that switching, yet kept the pedals top top two surrounding boards.


We no approaching Vernon Reid genuine estate yet, yet it’s quite epic and also designed come cover the sonic spectrum of Mayer’s divergent solo career. The shift of pedals native rack to the floor is to enable tweaks top top the fly during soundcheck or shows.

What is running here? This is what we deserve to spot:

Way substantial Aqua Puss delay and Camel toes OverdriveStrymon Timeline Delay, Möbius, Flint, and also Ojai strength supplyTC digital Ditto Looper and also 2 Polytune pedal tunersDawner Prince Boonar DelayElectro Harmonix QTronEHX PogIbanez TS-10, the stop 1980s successor to the classic TS9.CAE WahSilver KlonMXR step 90Dunlop EchoplexPete Cornish NG-2Source Audio EQKeeley KatanaRoger Linn Adrenalinn IIIDrybell Vibe MachineNeunaber Slate

Dead and also Co pedalboard circa 2016

As noted, Mayer’s Dead and Co rig is far more concise whilst retaining few of the lengthy term staples from his boards.

An also smaller board offered in July 2018. In part instances a Keeley Katana and PRS J-MOD footswitch have replaced the Klon on this board. Photo by

John Mayer Strings and Picks

Mayer is an Ernie ball player using constant Slinky 10-46 ~ above his electrics and also Earthwood Phosphor bronze on his acoustics.


Mayer favored Dunlop Tortex choose – the famed 0.88mm environment-friendly ones – for many years. Sometime approximately 2014-15 he moved to a 0.75mm choose Boy rainbow celluloid. This time frame coincides with his involvement Dead and Co and the start of collaborations through PRS guitars.

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Matt Wakeling is a guitarist and also music educator from Sydney, Australia. Matt produces the guitar Speak Podcast, one interview format podcast that has had guests such together Dweezil Zappa, Andy Timmons, Zakk Wylde, Brian Wampler, Scott Henderson, Gretchen Menn, Brett Garsed and also many more world class guitarists. Matt’s ‘Tone and also Sound – gear Guide’ blogs because that have likewise looked in ~ the rigs used by Jimmy Herring, Trey Anastasio, Marcus King, Phil Lesh and Warren Haynes.