John Mayer has made it his business to try and push electric guitar design into the modern era, and the proof is in the visuals of his PRS Silver Sky and Silver Sky SE signature models. But the guitarist has also drawn a perhaps an unlikely parallel with Slipknot guitarist Jim Root’s approach to designing a signature model.
Speaking to Cory Wong on his Wong Notes podcast (opens in new tab), Mayer expressed his unrelenting mission to “bring the guitar into the same context as everything around it”. While he may have left Fender in favour of PRS, he noted that he’s a fan of the brand’s work with Jim Root. “You know who else’s feels great? Jim Root from Slipknot. I mean, that’s cool of Fender. They’re actually letting artists go, ‘Here’s what you should do.’”
“The Jim Root Tele looks like every Tele should look in this day and age. It’s smart. It’s awake. It’s doing something completely new. It’s got big EMGs in it and it looks spacey but still really disciplined.”
Mayer goes on to note that discipline is - in his opinion - key to modern design. Indeed the Silver Sky takes inspiration from outside of the guitar industry with an Apple-like efficiency in terms of options and clean-cut styling.
“The reason I think the Silver Sky feels great is because, if you go to find one, there are two neck options for wood and six colour options. That’s it.
“It’s very disciplined. Which is why when something new happens with it, it’s exciting. Even though obviously in there is a great guitar, it feels modern. It feels like the rest of the stuff in this world does.
"People all the time go, ‘Can you make it with humbuckers?’ I go, ‘Keep it clean.’ It feels really good to tell a clean story.” He adds, “We're getting there. I think it's really cool. Because my guitar doesn't feel like a T-Bird; it feels like a Tesla, even though it's pink.“
While talking Wong through his Dumble amps, Mayer also revealed that he owns the amp partly-responsible for SRV's tone on Texas Flood.
“That is serial number 005. That amp belonged to Jackson Browne and was in Jackson Browne’s studio when Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded Texas Flood, he recorded that entire album through that amp. That is the Texas Flood Dumbleland Special.”
“It comes with a matching speaker that is not here, and no-one knew this before i mentioned it to you, I don’t think. Maybe I mentioned it to Dean Del Ray or something. But I used that amp when I played at Stevie’s rock n roll hall of fame inauguration ceremony.
"So you know, I’m going to be honest with you: I give off huge orthodontist vibes when it comes to Dumble. I know this. I’m trying to use them as best I can, and I put them on records. I wish they were more accessible, I wish someone could legitimately clone one.”