I think one of the first steps that you need to take when trying to replicate John Mayers amp settings is to realize and appreciate his affinity for Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Mayer’s early singles weren’t guitar heavy, but if you watch some of his more recent concerts, you can really hear the Vaughan influence on a number of his tracks.
They’ve even shared the same guitar tech.
- Ibanez Tubescreamer
- Boss Blues Driver
- Boss DS-1 Distortion
- Fender Standard Stratocaster
- Fender ’68 Vibrolux
For starters, check out this rundown of Mayer’s guitar rig from 2010.
There are plenty of Stratocasters, amplifiers and a pedal rig that’s all probably too expensive for the likes of us to afford.
But the good news is that despite all the gear, Mayer’s sound is fairly basic and easy to replicate.
John Mayer Amp Settings
You’ll notice in the video that on the Dumble Amp (Mayer’s clean sound), you can plainly see the red marks indicating where each dial is set.
There are the same settings.
His second amp, which does have a gain setting, appears to be what he uses for a dirty, or high gain sound. Those settings are also visible from the video.
The combination of the Fender and Dumble amp (both covered in the video) is pretty crucial when it comes to Mayer’s signature sound. Since there were only a handful of those particular Dumble amps made, odds are that you don’t have one available to you.
Fenders will be your next best bet and will more naturally emulate Mayer’s bluesy tone.
Just avoid really heavy distortions while keeping mids low and adding some extra bass on your amp dials.
But if you don’t have a Fender, these settings can still get you close, especially if you understand the characteristics of Mayer’s sound.
So what characteristics can we assume?
First, mids are consistently low while being couple with a bass that’s pushed a little past 12pm. Depending on your guitar and amp, something in this general vein should get you close to Mayer’s guitar tone.
- High Bass
- Low Mids
- Light Distortion
Light distortion just means that Mayer isn’t a heavy rock guy or metal head.
He’s a blues player, which dictates that his distortion is going to be a lot more smooth and subtle than some of the heavier overdrive sounds.
You can see a number of his pedals in the video, but his distorted tone isn’t that unusual. If you use an Ibanez Tubescreamer or Boss Blues Driver, you’ll be able to get really close to what you’re hearing on Mayer’s records.
Covering Mayer’s tunes and replicating his tone is fairly easy and straightforward.
Just avoid really heavy distortions while keeping mids low and adding some extra bass on your amp dials. If you have a distortion pedal that can accommodate and perhaps a little reverb, you’ll be good to go.
Some good closing advice?
Don’t over-think it.
Listen to Mayer’s music and start with the settings we’ve given you here. If it sounds off, five minutes of tweaking will go a long way.
Do you have a different experience trying to dial in Mayer’s amp settings?
Amp Settings and Images Courtesy of JamUp
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