Many people adore the tone of the modern blues man, John Mayer. In order to truly master the Mayer tone, you must look deep into his origins and idols. But this article is a short-cut to help you dial in that sound you’ve always wanted
First off, the guitar. Fender Strat. You have to have a Strat-style guitar to get the creamy single-coil tone in all of his blues recordings. There are many great alternatives to Fender for a great Stratocaster. If I was personally looking into what strat to buy under $800 I would have to go with a used Mexican Strat. There are great deals all over Reverb.com and Ebay for under that price point.
Next, the amp. What really matter for most of his tone. If someone was to ask me what would you rather have? A nice guitar or nice amp? Easily I would go with a nice tube amp. It is a must-have to achieve any quality tone. John’s tone is based off of clean fender amps. Through his latest years he has been known to explore boutique amps, but if you dont have $4000 to let go just for an amplifier then the smart choice here is an Vox AC15. You can find these used for around $500 and it is an absolute deal for the amount of money. Now earlier I said he mostly uses fender amps to get that tone. This is why i chose an AC15 over a blues junior for example. The Vox is a great palette to build your own sound on. It features them, reverb, and a top boost circuit which is sought after by many blues artists.
Lastly, pedals. John is a pedal collector just as I am aspiring to be. His board features around 20 pedals. If you look at it alone and try to replicate it you will end up spending thousands and possibly even a thousand for the highly sought after Klon. A big part of his sound is the reverb. The amp takes care of this perfectly. Next is the drive section. If you read my other posts, I wrote about the new TS Mini. It is a fantastic deal for the price you can get it for. The Tube Screamer gives you the creamy overdriven tone that John achieves on many of his hit records. If you want an alternative to the TS, a Klon clone is a great choice. John uses an original Klon Centaur which may run you around $1400 these days. But thankfully many engineers have released highly accurate clones that are just as good, if not better. If you’re looking to save money the EHX Soul Food is a wonderful choice. For those into more of a boutique sound, the Klon KTR is the choice of the pros. It is a faithful clone to the original. He also uses a delay to really fatten his tone for the neck pickup. Almost any slight delay will do the trick.