When John Mayer’s Sob Rock tour kicked off earlier this year, there were a number of questions that fans had on their lips: how many acoustic guitar deep cuts from his ‘08 live album will he play? Will he use his PRS SE Silver Sky? Can we expect to see him reunite with his pink Jackson Soloist on stage?
The answer to that last question is, apparently, yes. The hot pink shred machine, which Mayer grew immensely fond of during his pre-Silver Sky years, has indeed returned to Mayer’s six-string starting lineup.
Captured via fan footage from Mayer’s gig last Tuesday (April 5) at Tampa, Florida, the hot pink six-string came out mid-song during a performance of I Guess I Just Feel Like – a track noted for the nature of its extended, jam-like outro exchanges.
At first, Mayer opts for a thumb-heavy fingerpicking technique, and wastes no time putting the Floyd Rose to good use via some subtle embellishments. A guitar pick is then summoned for the classically Mayer outro solo, which is also littered with two-hand taps, silky pentatonic runs and even more whammy wiggles.
We don't need to comment on the fact that seeing the Jackson axe, so often associated with genres beyond the remit of Mayer’s pop-blues stylistic direction, strapped to Mayer at first seems to make for one unexpected pairing.
However, Mayer’s history with the guitar is an intimate one, and one that can be traced back to his pre-PRS playing days in 2015. The guitar made its first live appearance at that year’s Grammy Awards ceremony, during which Mayer teamed up with Ed Sheeran for a rendition of the latter’s chart-smashing single, Thinking Out Loud.
Though footage from the event is seemingly non-existent, the pair joined forces elsewhere while Mayer was hosting a Late Late Show episode for a decidedly heavier take on Sheeran’s track Don’t, which gave a hint of what the pink Jackson is capable of in Mayer’s hands.
Even before these events, Mayer was showing off his eye-catching axe – and his chops – through a series of quick-fire Instagram posts and guitar lessons. Since then, it’s been a go-to guitar for Mayer, having made subsequent appearances on 2017’s The Search For Everything, both on stage and in the studio.
In reality, Mayer’s affinity for the metal-leaning axe is unsurprising. A self-professed forward-thinker of the instrument, the Sob Rock man has been engaged in a long-term process to modernize and change the way we think about the guitar for quite some time.
A super-Strat sounds like the first thing Mayer would be attracted to. His own PRS Silver Sky, after all, was born out of his interest in “pushing things forward“, and he recently called Jim Root’s signature Fender Telecaster – a minimalist take on the original blueprint – everything a Tele “should look like in this day and age“.
The Jackson Soloist, with its very Sob Rock color choice, tonal versatility and flexible hardware appointments, certainly seems to fit the bill. In fact, it's entirely possible that Mayer’s love for the aesthetics of his Jackson informed his decision to bring out a similarly styled Roxy Pink PRS Silver Sky.
All we know is, Mayer is one of today’s standout soloists. Throw a whammy bar into the mix, and the results are inevitably going to be impressive. One to look out for on the Sob Rock tour, for sure.
For a full list of Sob Rock tour dates, visit John Mayer's website.