John Mayer upsets the gear apple cart once more as he uses Axe-Fx live

(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Six-string sex symbol John Mayer is renowned for his meticulous approach to tone - famously jumping ship to PRS for his Strat-a-like Silver Sky electric guitar because Fender couldn’t “bring his vision to life” - but a recent performance at Coachella has seen him make a surprise switch from his tube backline to digital modelling.

Mayer was spotted playing through Fractal Audio’s Axe-Fx III during a guest performance with Khalid at this weekend’s Coachella festival, during which he unleashed one seriously tasty lead tone (check out 1:37 in the video below).

Given the guitarist’s penchant for the upper echelons of tube amps, including Dumbles, Two-Rocks and his own signature PRS J-Mod, the news is likely to come as a shock to blues purists.

In actual fact, Mayer is no stranger to new guitar tech, having previously been spotted running through a Kemper Profiling Amp with Dead And Company back in 2015; his use of Axe-Fx also tallies with the revelation that he no longer brings amps to sessions, instead relying on his Akai MPC.

It’s not the first time the blues hero has upset trad guitarists in recent months, either, after he recently deployed some slick licks on one of Tosin Abasi’s eight-string Larada models, of all things.

It’s unlikely dear John will be making the Axe-Fx a permanent fixture of his rig, however, since his regular arsenal of high-end guitar amps was present and correct for his performance with Ed Sheeran in Japan earlier this month.

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.

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