It’s no secret that John Mayer is spearheading the charge to bring the electric guitar into the modern era. In a strategic play that started with his move to PRS to create his “elevated” Silver Sky signature guitar, Mayer has continuously voiced his desire to change guitar norms, and has championed an approach to function and aesthetics that aims to tap into a new era of guitar design.
Mayer reiterated his position during a recent conversation on Cory Wong's Wong Notes podcast, and confirmed his desire to “bring the guitar into the same context as everything around it” while simultaneously observing that those who share his opinion are few and far between.
He does, however, name one individual who is also at the cutting-edge of guitar design: Slipknot’s Jim Root, whose signature Fender Telecaster is, according to Mayer, everything a modern-era Tele should be.
“You know who else’s feels great?” Mayer asks Wong while discussing modern guitars. “Jim Root from Slipknot. I mean, that’s cool of Fender. They’re actually letting artists go, ‘Here’s what you should do.’
“The Jim Root Tele looks like every Tele should look in this day and age,” he claimed. “It’s smart. It’s awake. It’s doing something completely new. It’s got big EMGs in it and it looks spacey but still really disciplined.”
No doubt Mayer is fond of the entire Jim Root line of signatures, comprising equally streamlined Stratocaster and Jazzmaster models, all of which are designed with a similar no-frills-needed approach to functionality in mind.
As for his penchant for ultra-modern design and aesthetics, and the importance of likening the guitar to consumer products of today, Mayer mused, “The reason I think the Silver Sky feels great is because, if you go to find one, there are two neck options for wood and six color options. That’s it.
“It’s very disciplined,” he added. “Which is why when something new happens with it, it’s exciting. Even though obviously in there is a great guitar, it feels modern. It feels like the rest of the stuff in this world does.
“People all the time go, ‘Can you make it with humbuckers?’ I go, like, ‘Keep it clean.’ It feels really good to tell a clean story.”
His campaign has not been in vain, though, with Mayer concluding his commentary on guitar design by saying, “I am seeing a change, which is exciting. I'm seeing photoshoots for guitars get better.
“We're getting there. I think it's really cool. Because my guitar doesn't feel like a T-Bird; it feels like a Tesla, even though it's pink.“
In an earlier section of the show, he also teased that he has a secret stash of uniquely finished Silver Skys that would make people “flip out“.