john mayer toneWhen you think of amazing guitarists, it’s easy to think of the legends from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. But today, in this generation, a man by the name of John Mayer came onto the pop scene with real talent. Influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B King, Mayer naturally displays a very bluesy kind of playing. His guitar skills coupled with an undeniably sweet sounding tone gives him a very likeable sound. You know what I mean, it’s that bell-like strat tone with its glassy, piano-like texture. So lets talk about how you can get John Mayer’s guitar tone.

Guitar

While John Mayer plays a variety of guitars, his mainstay is a Fender Stratocaster. Really, any strat will do the job, but if you want to nail his sound, then you want to install a set of Big Dipper pickups. This is a good chunk of his tone right there. If you really want everything to be just like his strat, he does have a signature one available by Fender.

Amps

John Mayer is known to play Two Rock amps, though they are quite expensive ($5000+ US for a Head!). He even has a signature amp by Two Rock that you can get. Also, he uses high-end Dumble and Fender amps in conjunction. But if you want to get this tone without shelling out a ton of money, then I would suggest a decent Fender tube amp that has spring reverb. Part of Mayer’s tone is in his Fender-like cleans with a bit of verb for sweetness. So if you really wanted to do this on the cheap, a Fender Blues Junior could get you almost there. As for dialing in the amp, you want what I refer to as pushed cleans. This is where the tone is very clean when attacked gently, but has great touch sensitivity and a slight distorted texture when picked hard. Experiment with your amp settings.

Pedals

John uses a ton of different pedals and they vary from song to song. Since his pedalboard changes often, some of signatures are an Ibanez Tubescreamer, a Marshall Bluesbreak 1 (Pedal no longer made), an RMC Wah, and many many others. He tends to have a bunch of overdrive pedals, so it is tough to say what to use where. But if there is one to get, then I suggest the tubescreamer. Couple that with the right amp/guitar, and you’ll be getting a lot of his tone right there.

In the end, if you want John Mayer tone, then you got to play like him as well. Otherwise, even if you have all of his gear, it won’t sound like him if you aren’t employing his style. So learn the blues, some r’n'b licks, listen to some BB King and SRV, and you’ll get there!

4 Responses to How to get John Mayer Tone

  1. Andrew says:

    It’s all in his style/fingers and that two-rock. If you look on YouTube of guys playing strats through two-rocks it’s like BOOM-instant John mayer tone. You were absolutely right about the next closest thing being fender amps with reverb. He also uses a silver klon centaur and he specifically stated that it’s the “kindest overdrive he’s ever used. While he does use tubescreamers, he only uses the ts10 version now it seems like. I hardly ever see him use the 808 and others anymore.

    • GuitarToneTalk says:

      Yes, I’ve seen the Klon on his pedalboard. He really uses a ton of different ODs, and his board is constantly changing too.

      Thanks for reading :)

  2. Randall says:

    You want to use 11 guage or higher also.
    The guys at the blues jams around have been using a EP Boost mini pedal.
    I use it with the blues jr and get a very blackface tone with it.
    Chords play while a slight change in right hand attack and the strat will start barking.
    I have the ts808 and dont recommend it for the Jr.
    I am still looking for something that will make notes sustain without adding fake sounding distortion.

    • GuitarToneTalk says:

      Thanks for great info Randall!

      “get notes to sustain without a fake sounding distortion…”… To truly achieve this is via tube saturation which only happens when the amp is cranked. That is how you get great sustain with real sounding distortion. At this point, you can add a fuzz or OD or distortion to the mix and it will sound natural (as long as its not digital).

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