Sound Like John Mayer: Amp Settings and Gear

Strumming your way to John Mayer’s sound? Well, you’re in the right place! This Killer Rig article is your backstage pass to the world of John Mayer amp settings.

We’re going to dive deep into the heart of Mayer’s sound, exploring the amp settings that give his music its unique character and soul. From the bluesy undertones to the clean, crisp melodies, we’ll uncover the secrets behind Mayer’s iconic tone.

So, grab your guitar and set your amp to:

  • Bass: 5
  • Mids: 4
  • Treble: 6
  • Gain: 7

We will then start our sonic journey together into all things John Mayer and help you get his sound for yourself!

What is John Mayer’s Sound?

John Mayer’s sound is like no other. His soulful melodies and intricate guitar work, along with his smooth vocals, create an unmistakable sound. Rich tones and a bluesy feel add to its captivating and emotive nature.

It’s an interesting blend of soul, blues, and pop. This is what really sets him apart in the music world and is desirable by not only other guitarists, but music lovers worldwide.

Amp settings are a key part of Mayer’s sound. He loves to experiment, and his meticulous attention to detail has earned him a great reputation. Whether it’s clean arpeggios or solos, his amp settings shape his iconic sound.

Mayer also uses various pedals to give his music depth and texture. Reverb and delay for atmosphere, overdrive and distortion for an edgier tone. In fact, Mayer’s pedalboard is full of tools to explore sounds.

But his is also always changing. He fine-tunes his amp settings during performances, trying to capture the essence of each song perfectly.

Not sure what amp settings actually do? Check out my guide to amp controls and settings to get up to speed!

Understanding John Mayer’s Amp Settings

Before we move too far into the fin details, it’s best to understand how the amp settings each affect his tone. If you know what each setting is doing, you will end up with a better sound much faster.


The gain is the driving force behind Mayer’s sound. Set at a robust 7, it provides the perfect amount of crunch, creating a tone that’s rich and full-bodied, yet never heavily overdriven. It’s the growl in Mayer’s tone, the grit in his blues.

But the right amplifier here makes all the difference. If your amp is high gain, this setting will result in a metal tone. And that is not what we are going for here.


The bass is the foundation of Mayer’s sound. Set at a solid 5, it provides a deep, resonant undertone that anchors his tone. It’s the depth in Mayer’s sound, the rumble in his rhythm.

This setting can also create a muddy or boomy sound, so use lower settings when getting started.


The mids are the heart of Mayer’s sound. Set at a balanced 4, they add warmth and richness, creating a tone that’s as smooth as silk. It’s the warmth in Mayer’s sound, the soul in his solos.

It’s also the cut in the mix and foundational settings for guitar frequency. This is a very powerful setting in the guitar realm.


The treble is the sparkle in Mayer’s sound. Set at a bright 6, it adds clarity and definition, creating a tone that cuts through the mix like a knife. It’s the clarity in Mayer’s sound, the bite in his leads.

But it can also be overpowering with some guitars. So aim for bright and not piercing.

Master Volume

The master volume is the power behind Mayer’s sound. Set at a commanding 7, it ensures his tone is always front and center, loud and clear. It’s the volume in Mayer’s sound, the roar in his riffs.

Just don’t get evicted from your apartment. Your neighbors might not like higher settings on this control.

Check out our Arctic Monkey’s amp settings here.

John Mayer’s Guitar Settings

The Fender Stratocaster and PRS Silver Sky are his primary guitars. This is because they are super versatile. Loaded with three single-coil pickups and a 5-way pickup selector, these guitars offer a wide range of possibilities.

The Stratocaster, in particular, is known for its bright, twangy sound, with a pronounced treble, reduced bass, and a mid-range that’s been somewhat scooped out.

The Pickup Selector

Pickup selector switch.

The pickup selector is a crucial tool in Mayer’s tonal arsenal. He often leans towards the 4th or 5th position, isolating the neck pickup or combining the middle and neck pickups.

This choice softens the single coil’s inherent brightness, adding warmth and depth, perfect for achieving those clean, soulful tones Mayer is known for.

For solos or lead sections, Mayer might switch to a combination of the middle and neck pickups on a 3-pickup guitar, or the bridge and neck pickups on a 2-pickup guitar. This change brightens the tone, adding clarity that helps the guitar cut through the mix.

Mastering Volume and Tone Controls

Mayer is a maestro of volume and tone controls, often maxing them out. This approach gives him direct control over his playing dynamics and tone, right from his guitar.

This is pretty common with most players, as they utilize the settings from the amp or effects to do the heavy lifting. But you might prefer using the controls on your guitar, depending on your setup.

Check out The Strokes amp settings here.

Emulating the “Strat” Sound

Even if you don’t own a Strat-style guitar, you can still chase that “Strat-like” sound. If your guitar has a coil tap/split function, use it to mimic single-coil tones.

If you’re working with humbucker pickups, try using both pickups together (middle position on the pickup selector), or the bridge pickup alone. Avoid using the neck pickup by itself, as it tends to sound too warm and mellow.

Technique Tips

If you want to achieve this tone too, here are some tips:

  1. Experiment with guitar tones. John Mayer usually plays a Fender Stratocaster, but don’t be afraid to try other guitars and pickups.
  2. Adjust the settings for your style. The settings work well for blues, but you can make small changes depending on your genre.
  3. Practice dynamics. Mayer has control of both soft and loud sounds – work on your technique to express yourself.
  4. Learn his phrasing techniques. Listen to the articulation and phrasing in Mayer’s playing and try to replicate it.

All these suggestions will help you get your own unique sound. It takes time and dedication, so don’t give up if you don’t get it right away! Keep practicing and exploring different possibilities until you find the perfect tone.

Check out our guide on clean amp settings here!

Fender Stratocaster.

John Mayer’s Pedalboard

John Mayer’s pedalboard plays a big part in his signature sound. Let’s take a look at what makes it so special.

John’s pedals include:

  • Klon Centaur – Overdrive
  • Ibanez Tube Screamer – Overdrive
  • Boss CE-2 Chorus – Chorus
  • MXR Carbon Copy – Delay
  • Strymon Flint- Reverb and Tremolo

These pedals are carefully selected to suit John’s style. The Klon Centaur and Tube Screamer lend warmth and dynamics to his overdrive, while the CE-2 Chorus adds depth and richness.

You will also find that he uses the Marshall Bluesbreaker with all control maxed out to get a crunchy tone. The King of Tone also makes an appearance, but this is harder to get.

The Carbon Copy offers versatile analog delay, and the Flint creates spacious and atmospheric reverbs and Tremolo.

John also uses wah, tremolo and EQ pedals to tweak his sound. Each pedal is chosen with precision to enhance his playing.

Pro Tip: When building your own pedalboard, remember that it’s not all about expensive gear. You need to find the right combination of effects that suits your playing style and helps you achieve your desired tone. Experimentation is key!

Popular John Mayer Songs and Their Amp Settings

John Mayer is a famous singer-songwriter and guitarist. His music has gained fans around the world. His amp settings play a big part in creating the unique sound of his songs.

The table below shows some of John Mayer’s most popular songs and their corresponding amp settings:

GravityFender Deluxe Reverb4645
Slow Dancing in a Burning RoomDumble Overdrive Special5754
NeonTwo-Rock Signature Series5563
BeliefFender Twin Reverb5675
Your Body is a WonderlandDumble 4665

These are just starting points to get the same tones as in the songs. It’s important to experiment and make it your own.

John Mayer puts a lot of effort into his sound. He looks up to guitarists like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton and is always learning. This has made him one of the most influential guitarists of our time.

From broken strings to blown amps, this next section has the solutions to keep you rocking out!

John Mayer Playing PRS Guitar
Playing His PRS Silver Sky

Common Problems and Solutions

John Mayer amp settings can be tricky to configure and cause frustration for guitarists trying to replicate his distinctive tone. But with the right adjustments and knowledge of the equipment, these problems can be solved. Here’s a list of common problems and their solutions:

  1. Lack of clarity? Boost the midrange frequencies while reducing bass and treble.
  2. Need more sustain? Increase the gain or overdrive of your amp and use a compressor pedal.
  3. Muddy or boomy low end? Reduce bass control on amp and guitar. Change speaker cabinet too.
  4. Harsh highs? Turn down amp treble and boost mids to keep a balanced tone. Better speakers can help too.
  5. Inconsistent volumes? Match guitar output with amp input. Use volume pedal or attenuator to control levels.

By following these tips and making careful tweaks, you can get John Mayer’s sound. Experimenting with his techniques, while staying true to your musical expression, will help you find your own voice.

So, if you’re a fan of John Mayer or just want to channel your inner dark humor, these amp settings will have you strumming witty one-liners and entertained till the last note.


Dive into John Mayer’s amp settings and we find a meticulous approach to his sound. He chooses the right amplifier model and fine-tunes EQ settings for each song, creating a balanced, rich tone that cuts through any mix.

As per Guitar Player magazine, John Mayer’s preferred amp for live performances is a Two-Rock Custom Reverb Signature. It gives him the tonal versatility and responsiveness he needs to showcase his dynamic playing style.

Experimentation and personalization are key to creating a captivating guitar tone. Go forth and take these insights with you. Forge your sonic path and stay true to your musical identity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which amp models or brands does John Mayer commonly use?

John Mayer is known to use a variety of amp brands, including Fender, Two-Rock, Dumble, and PRS. His go-to amp models include Fender Deluxe Reverb, Two-Rock John Mayer Signature Amp, and the Dumble Overdrive Special.

How can I achieve John Mayer’s Bluesbreaker amp sound?

To achieve John Mayer’s “Bluesbreaker” amp sound, you can use the following amp settings. Set the gain around 4-5, bass at 5, mids at 8, treble at 6-7, and presence at 6-7.

Additionally, consider using a Tubescreamer-type overdrive pedal to push the amp into breakup territory.

Are there any amp settings that John Mayer uses for his clean guitar tones?

For clean guitar tones, John Mayer seems to set the gain to a low level, around 2 or 3. With the bass at 3-4, mids at 5-6, treble at 7-8, and presence around 5. This will provide a clean and crisp sound with plenty of cut, while retaining the warmth of the guitar.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!