John Mayer reveals he used a Fractal amp modeler for some of Sob Rock’s standout six-string moments

John Mayer
Mayer, with his signature PRS Silver Sky, in a Sob Rock album outtake (Image credit: Carlos Serrao)

John Mayer’s much sought-after, highly celebrated tone is synonymous with two things: his trusted PRS Silver Sky, and one of a number of tube amps.

Be it a Dumble or a Two Rock, Mayer is rarely seen without a boutique guitar amp by his side, and, as such, his coveted guitar tone is sometimes seen as being out of reach for the average electric guitar-slinging layperson.

However, as it turns out, the blues guitar god decided to throw his own rulebook out the window for his latest studio effort, and instead opted for Fractal’s digital amp modeling for some of Sob Rock’s standout moments.

In an exclusive interview in the latest issue of Guitar World, Mayer revealed that he opted for the versatile amp modeler due to his two-fold approach to conceptualizing Sob Rock as an ‘80s throwback record.

“We actually used a Fractal in some places,” says Mayer. “Because as much as I was thinking, ‘What would I have done then?’ I was also thinking, ‘What would they have done now?’

“And if somebody had walked a Fractal into the Thriller sessions? You would have heard a Fractal all over that record.”

As for when exactly the Fractal cropped up, Mayer utilized the amp modeler for the fingerpicking passages on Wild Blue, and speculated he used the Studio Clean preset for the main guitar tone.

Mayer has previously used the Fractal Axe-Fx III live and during Instagram live streams, but these latest sessions likely mark the first time he has used the technology on his own record.

That’s not to say Mayer’s favorite amps didn’t make it onto Sob Rock, however. When asked about the variety of tube amps he paired with his new-look Roxy Pink PRS Silver Sky, Mayer responded, “We used different amps all the time, and the amps are tricky for me – I think the same amp sounds different on two different days.

“It worked really, really well to take a Silver Sky, which is already kind of hi-fi, and run it through a Dumble,” he continued, “and then maybe an old Fender combo for softness. Because those old Fenders apologize really well for the notes.”

Head over to Magazines Direct to pick up the latest copy of Guitar World, which features interviews with Kiko Loureiro and Billy Gibbons, and a closer look at the guitars spearheading the recent resurgence of Kramer.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.