John Mayer's Pedalboard: The Guitar Effects Pedals Behind His Sound

Although you can often see him doing acoustic stuff, John Mayer became pretty much a modern electric guitar hero, perfectly balancing between blues and modern pop, all while implementing his impeccable guitar skills. Belonging to the generation of those younger guitar heroes that began their career in the late 1990s, Mayer brought closer together the best of two worlds and technical proficiency and the virtuosity of modern shredders, and the emotion of those good old blues guitarists. As his playing and songwriting progressed, so did his tone. Of course, aside from his Fender and Paul Reed Smith guitars, this great sound was built with some rather interesting effects pedals. Here, we will be taking a closer look into his pedalboard while checking out some great effects he's been using over the years.

Overdrive and distortion

So let's start with the main thing - his overdrive and distortion pedals. While he's mostly known for his clean tone, there have been some stompboxes for additional bark to his tone. There is, of course, the very obvious choice of the well-known and highly sought after Ibanez Tube Screamer TS808 as well as some other of its variants, like the TS10.

Relying heavily on blues influences, there are also some overdrives like the Marshall Bluesbreaker, Boss BD-2 Blues Driver, and the somewhat rare Klon Centaur and Analog Man King of Tone. Aside from some other drives he's been using, to add just a little bit more dirt, Mayer has his classic and simple MXR M104 Distortion Plus as well as the Fulltone Full-Drive2 Mosfet.

In more recent years, he's been playing through Shin's Music Custom Dumbloid Twin which is a pretty advanced and expensive overdrive pedal.

Wah pedals

As for wah wah pedals, he's famous for his Real McCoy Custom RMC8 that has its own built-in 5-band EQ. Aside from that one, he also used the Fulltone Clyde and the MXR MC404.


Being a lover of the vintage stuff, it's not a surprise that he became known for utilizing the good old Univox Uni-Vibe pedal. Of course, there are also some Leslie rotary speaker simulators like the Korg GT4 that's known for its abundance of different tones.

Going over to chorus pedals, he's been seen using the Way Huge Blue Hippo which is a rather simple but great sounding analog effect. Another chorus that he prefers using is the Fulltone Mini DejaVibe, which is a stereo effect of great quality. Speaking of which, Mayer also used another famous stereo chorus, the Fulltone Mini DejaVibe.

Phasers are also not unusual to see in Mayer's signal chain and he's been rocking some MXR products, like the Eddie Van Halen signature EVH-90 and another the Phase 100 Script Vintage.

Delays and reverbs

John Mayer's love for that wet tone can be seen in his extensive use of different delay and reverb pedals. The well-known Line 6 DL4 is a pretty interesting one as it features a variety of delay effect presets. Other delays also include Way Huge Aqua-Puss, T-Rex Engineering Replica, Dunlop EP103 Echoplex, MXR Carbon Copy, and the Strymon TimeLine.

While we're at Strymon pedals, he also used the company's Flint Tremolo and Reverb pedal. Obviously a huge fan of Strymon, he's also used their Volante Magnetic Echo.

Of course, with Boss being one of the leading manufacturers, Mayer is fond of their RE-20 Space Echo dual pedal.

Other pedals

But aside from these basic pedals, there have been countless others that helped shape his tone. Knowing how thorough Mayer is about his tone, there are always some equilizer pedals in his signal chain. A pretty interesting one is the MXR M-108, which is a 10-band EQ giving a lot of options for frequency boosting or cutting. There's also the unavoidable Boss GE-7 that's also been present on pedalboards of various musicians, both amateurs and professionals.

Booster pedals are also very frequent in his signal chain, like the Keeley Katana Pre Amp, Sabbadius Mr. White, and the JHS Kirkland. For some additional effects, John uses multi-FX units like the Roger Linn Design AdrenaLinn III.

Filters and different synths can also be found on Mayer's pedalboard and he's known for using stuff like Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron Plus, as well as the MicroSynth XO.

Having a variety of pedals, it's only obvious that Mayer needs a solid power supply, which is something that is essential in order to keep your tone without any unwanted noise. For this purpose, he has MXR Custom Audio Electronics MC403 which can power 16 pedals at the same time.

But after years of relying on tube amps and different pedals, John Mayer has been seen using a Kemper modeling amp. While it's somewhat of a controversial choice, we will see in the future if he'll completely abandon using complex big rigs and pedalboards in favor of very practical modeling amps.
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