“In the style of” videos are some of the most intriguing pieces of guitar-related content you can find online. Why? Well, thanks to inquisitive players, we’re able to get an insight into an alternate musical reality – one, for example, where Slipknot wrote Master of Puppets instead of Metallica.
To contribute to this goldmine of guitar goodness, a YouTuber who goes by the tag STRVSS has turned their attention to two of today’s most influential players: John Mayer and Tim Henson.
Specifically, STRVSS has concocted a parallel universe in which Mayer masterminded Polyphia's Neuvo Flamenco track Playing God in his trademark fingerstyle approach, and where Henson wrote Mayer's Neon as a trap-esque, 808-loaded eight-string electric guitar workout.
We’re not quite sure what technological wizardry STRVSS used to create the edits, but the results are quite something. By overdubbing video footage of Mayer and Henson playing guitar with audio from elsewhere, the YouTuber has crafted a sonic timeline in which the two titans went down drastically different routes.
At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Mayer – who can be seen playing a Martin acoustic guitar in footage from his Where The Light Is live concert from 2008 – was genuinely playing a stripped-back, unplugged rendition of Playing God.
Even an extended intro in the style of Neon's live rendition is present, which precedes a fully fingerstyle version of track’s main riff – dutifully lifted from a cover previously published by acoustic virtuoso Sungha Jung. Such is STRVSS’s seamless editing, though, the untrained eye could be fooled into thinking Mayer did actually pen and perform the Neuvo Flamenco track over 10 years ago.
Closer inspection, though, reveals some fingering mishaps and right-hand irregularities. Still, a pretty solid effort, and Sungha Jung’s flawless cover certainly helps the cause.
As for Henson’s take on Neon, we’re not quite sure where STRVSS got the audio from – they’re keeping their cards close to his chest in the comments section – but the footage is from Henson’s performance of Reverie, meaning it looks uncannily like the Polyphia virtuoso has transformed Neon into an eight-string fretboard workout.
There are a few extra string slaps in there, and some more accented plucks à la Polyphia, meaning the video does a good job of tricking the viewer into thinking Henson is actually reeling through the track’s main hook. Alas, once again, it’s just STRVSS’s editing chops working their magic.
Now we know what Mayer and Henson playing each other’s music looks like, we can’t help but wonder what such a full-length would sound like. So, if any intrepid reader fancies adding some extra harmonics and two-hand taps to Neon, or giving Playing God a Mayer-style makeover, we’re all ears. Heck, if Mayer and Henson themselves fancy covering each other's music, that would be even better.