When 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.
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.
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.
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!