As well as being a frontman and lead electric guitar player in his own right, John Mayer is also a prolific session musician, having played with the likes of Fall Out Boy, Jay-Z and Ed Sheeran at various points throughout his career.
Now, it’s been confirmed that Mayer has been continuing his pop-leaning six-string session activities behind the scenes, and will appear on Justin Bieber’s forthcoming, as-yet-untitled album, which has almost been completed.
Bieber broke the news while in conversation with Ebro Darden of Apple Music 1, revealing the collaboration came about while the pair were both at LA’s Henson Recording Studios.
Mayer had then joined Bieber in the studio, and laid down a “wicked” guitar solo that will feature on an unnamed track when the album arrives.
As Bieber recalled, “John Mayer is on the project, which is pretty sick. [He’s playing a] wicked guitar solo, so that was really cool for me. He's someone who I've looked up to for a long time.
“We were at Henson Studio and I was working on this song,” he continues, “and he came in and he's like, ‘Can I go in the booth?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, bro, go in.’
“And so he went in the booth, and he laid a guitar solo and it was just like... it was mind-blowing to see him actually operate in his gift like that, being able to see it firsthand, because like he is on another level. It's insane.”
While it would be easy to label the tease as hyperbole, we’ve no doubts that Mayer is more than capable of providing a session solo worthy of Bieber’s hype. After all, Mayer’s 10 best guest appearances include a sublime pink Jackson-powered spot on Ed Sheeran’s tracks Don’t and Thinking Out Loud, as well as a tasteful lead effort on Shawn Mendes’ Like To Be You.
Likewise, Mayer also offered his solo services to JP Saxe, during a live rendition of the latter's track Here's Hopin' on The Late Show.
While it’s likely Mayer stuck to his usual PRS Silver Sky, as opposed to his pink Jackson Soloist, for Bieber’s record, the rest of the rig he used was probably far more streamlined than his standard Dumble-loaded, pedalboard-stacked setup.
Speaking to Guitar World in 2018, Mayer revealed his no-frills approach to session work, saying his “guitar parts are getting on three times more records these days” thanks to his stripped-back session rig.
“When I’m playing on people’s sessions these days, I don’t usually bring an amp, I record all my guitars through my Akai MPC,” he said. “A Bassman amp with three mics put on it literally will not fit inside the song. There’s a lot of resistance to that from producers.
“My guitar parts are getting on three times more records these days than when I came in with my guitar amp and a couple pedals and mics. It wasn’t fitting the lexicon, so I had to really look at that and ask, ‘Is the old way of doing things really honoring the electric guitar?’”