When John Mayer was just starting out as a musician, fame, and worldwide popularity were just a figment of his imagination. That said, even back then it was obvious that the guy had some serious potential. One of the first guitars he fell in love with was the Fender Stratocaster.
This relationship started when he bought an SRV Signature Strat while still working at a gas station. Ever since then, John Mayer was all about Strats. When he walked out the store with that SRV Strat, he probably couldn’t even imagine that one day Fender would offer his own signature model Stratocaster. That is exactly what happened in 2005.
When he cooperated with Fender on building this guitar, Mayer was interested in achieving a more unique tone. It was supposed to be something close to his SRV, but with his own twist. The result? A very special Stratocaster that brings an equally special type of tone. Today we are going to take a closer look at this awesome guitar, and show you just what kind of performance it has to offer.
There’s one thing that can be said about signature Stratocaster models – they aren’t all that different from the stock version, until you start inspecting details. Same goes for Mayer’s Strat. As a matter of fact, there are several versions that bear his name, but we have chosen to go for the default one as it’s the most attractive one to be completely honest. If we had to give you a quick reason why this Strat is good and what makes it so different from your run of the mill Stratocaster, we’d say it’s the much heavier tone. More on that later.
Once you pick up the John Mayer Signature Strat, the first thing you will notice is the different neck. It’s a standard C-shape profile, but it’s a bit wider. Made of maple and covered with a thin layer of satin urethane finish, this slightly different design has its benefits.
On top of it, there’s an Indian rosewood fretboard with standard dot inlays. The body is pretty standard Strat edition, made of alder and featuring that standard Fender sunburst finish.
In terms of hardware, we’re looking at an American vintage tremolo bridge that packs no less than five springs. Interesting fact about this bridge is that the plate comes removed. That’s how Mayer likes it, and that’s how Fender ships it. A closer look at the headstock reveals a set of Gotoh tuning machines, which have been tried and tested so many times by now. Overall, the hardware is bulletproof and designed for serious use.
With all that said, the absolutely best part about this guitar is the pickups department. John Mayer and Fender decided to install a set of Big Dipper single coils on this thing, which are customized to fit Mayer’s specs. By that we mean factory scooped mids, achieved by applying a pretty rare type of coil winding.
Where to even begin with this one. The whole guitar is setup the way Mayer likes it. After all, he’s using several of these as his main axes. That slightly different neck is built for bending those strings with ease, although we’d assume that Mayer would buff out the back side of the neck until all the finish is gone. Considering that shipping guitars like that is pretty much a big no-no, we can’t blame Fender for not going that far in terms of authenticity.
The next big thing is sound. Those Big Dipper single coils are truly something else when it comes to the color of the tone, and overall fidelity you are presented with. Even at the bridge pickup, you will definitely hear that low-end response kicking in. Of course, the whole story only gets fatter when you switch to the middle or neck pickup. This configuration is just awesome once you start dropping some rock riffs, or blues licks. It’s fair to say that these pickups are among the more unique designs Fender has developed so far, and that is definitely in a good way.
If we were talking about any other guitar player, mentioning the bridge and tuners wouldn’t be required as long as they are capable of keeping the guitar in tune. However, considering that Mayer bases a lot of his music on those extreme bends, we wanted to see just how capable that American Vintage trem bridge actually was. Lo and behold, it’s a true bending machine. You can take things to the edge of on the regular, and the guitar stays in tune. Naturally, some adjustments will have to be made from time to time, but yo certainly won’t have to worry about dropping out in the middle of the performance. When it comes to riding that tremolo, the situation is the same. With five springs in the back, there’s a lot of anchoring power that pops the bridge back every time. If you are big on bending and tremolo use, this combo is exactly what you need.
John Mayer took the world pretty much by surprise once he rolled out his first album. His skill and music were enough for a lot of experienced critics to say that this ‘new kid’ is going to make it big. One testament to that is the fact that he has his own Strat signature series. Not a lot of guitar players can say that. Unfortunately for most of us, Fender is ending the production of this series soon, which was also confirmed by Mayer himself.
For the time being, stocks are full and you ca get one easily. However, that is probably going to change in the coming years. Whether you are a fan of Mayer’s work, or just someone looking for a fatter sounding Strat, John Mayer Signature Stratocaster is definitely something that should be on the top of your list. It’s just that good of a guitar.
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