Not only does John Mayer use some of the finest electric guitars and guitar amps that money can buy, he’s also something of an effects pedal connoisseur, having previously been spotted using a range of well-stocked pedalboards.
It also seems to be the case that, like many of us who suffer from some form of G.A.S., Mayer is never content with his ‘board, instead embarking on a seemingly endless quest to explore new tones through fresh stompbox choices.
With that in mind, Mayer recently set out on his first solo arena tour of North America, and it turns out he’s brought three all-new pedalboards to accompany him on the road.
Naturally, a lot of the Sob Rock star’s tried-and-trusted pedals return to the starting lineup, though it seems like Mayer has taken the opportunity to branch out from his previous rigs, introducing a few new eye-catching units into his signal chain.
The pedalboards are spread out across the stage according to Mayer’s setlist, which includes piano, standing guitar and seated acoustic sections. The first two ‘boards contain the bulk of the action and can be found sitting next to each other in the center of the stage, where Mayer does most of his Silver Sky noodling.
Here, the first intriguing appointment can be found. As noted by YouTuber Justin Jeske, a right-hand pedalboard is filled with Mayer’s acoustic guitar pedals – one of which is the next generation Eventide H90.
The H90 came out last year to usher in the company’s newest era of multi-effects units, and it makes for an eyebrow-raising addition to Mayer’s new pedalboard. Why? Well, the PRS signature artist has never been a huge floor-based multi-effects user in the past – one certainly wasn’t on his 2022 Dead & Company ‘board – so the H90 is a pretty big deal.
Joining the H90 is another new-for-Mayer unit, the Boss RC-500, which has seemingly swapped out his preferred TC Electronic Ditto X2 looper pedal. However, as Jeske notes, Mayer addressed the audience of his first tour show by saying he doesn’t have plans to loop on stage, but is supposedly open to breaking this rule.
Despite this hesitancy, looping is clearly just too irresistible for Mayer, who has in fact included the RC-500 on all three of his pedalboards. This first ‘board, though, is completed with a Boss TU-3 tuner, Strymon’s Midnight Edition NightSky Experimental Reverb, a Providence Chrono Delay DL-4 and either a TC Electronic Infinite or Flashback.
The electric ‘board makes for more familiar viewing, though retains the RC-500 alongside some of Mayer’s favorites. These include two Ibanez TS10 Tube Screamers – which sandwich a blacked-out Klon Centaur – and Mayer’s go-to TC Electronic PolyTune 3, as well as a Keeley Katana compressor pedal, Way Huge Aqua Puss, another Chrono Delay DL-4 and a final Strymon Flint.
Those familiar with Mayer’s electric guitar tones won’t be shocked by any of those choices – aside maybe from the position of the Klon between two TS10s – but with one of today’s tightest lead tones, we see no reason for Mayer to change things up.
A final acoustic pedalboard can be found, and though it shares some striking similarities to the first ‘board, there is one major difference: here, Mayer has treated his rig to the all-new Strymon Cloudburst Ambient Reverb.
The pedal itself was released only a few weeks ago, and marked the effects specialist’s most affordable and compact reverb to date. The fact it’s already made it onto Mayer’s live rig probably says all you need to know about the performance of the pedal, and at $279 it’s a far cry cheaper than Strymon’s $480 BigSky pedal.
As such, thanks to this tour, we imagine those looking to harness Mayer-esque reverbs will now be giving serious thought to the ‘board-friendly reverb.
It’s business as usual for the rest of the rig, with the final pedalboard containing another RC-500, Eventide H90, Boss TU-3 tuner and Strymon Midnight Edition NightSky.
Despite the choice selections, it’s not the first time Mayer’s equipment has caught guitarists’ attention in the early stage of his tour. Just last week, he was spotted playing an ultra-rare double-neck Martin guitar built by Tim Teel, which was first seen over a decade ago at NAMM 2010.
On the guitar front, Mayer also reunited with his Fender Monterey Jimi Hendrix Custom Shop Stratocaster at the Love Rocks Benefit Concert earlier this month for his first blues trio performance in six years.