John Mayer has achieved the guitarists dream of creating a distinguishing tone that is recognizable by many. A large part of achieving that tone is the pickups he chooses to use. So, what pickups does John Mayer use?
John Mayer uses 635JM single-coil pickups on his PRS Silver Sky model. These pickups come standard with the Silver Sky and exhibit a higher signal-to-noise ratio than vintage models, and their in-between sounds are hum canceling. They give off a warm vintage tone.
Continue reading to learn more about John Mayer’s pickups, what other guitarists say about them, and where you can get them.
What Pickups Are in John Mayer’s Fender Stratocaster?
In the John Mayer Fender Signature Stratocaster, there are Big Dipper Stratocaster pickups with a midrange scoop. The pickups were based off underwound 50’s style Fender Standard pickups, mimicking the strength.
Big Dipper pickups focus on the high and low frequencies and roll back on the midrange. They give off a vintage tone that John desired based off his SRV Signature Stratocaster that he played growing up.
Find Out Why John Mayer Left Fender Today!
Big Dipper pickups are essentially Texas Specials but with scooped mids. John’s SRV Signature Stratocaster that he played growing up, and still occasionally does, had slightly defective Texas Specials. Supposedly, John asked Fender to recreate the same pickups with the defect. This alteration to the Texas Specials became known as Big Dippers.
John used these pickups from 2005 to 2014, when he left Fender. Although he sometimes still uses his Stratocaster, which likely have Texas Specials or Big Dippers in it.
What Pickups Does John Mayer Use?
John Mayer uses 635JM single-coil pickups in his PRS Silver Sky. They are slightly underwound to give a vintage 60’s Stratocaster tone without having a musical high end that is too thrusting. These pickups come standard in the PRS Silver Sky, allowing any customer to use the same pickups as John Mayer.
For those who do not know, the PRS Silver Sky is John’s main guitar that he records and tours with. He created this guitar in collaboration with PRS with the aim of reinvigorating the electric guitar, whilst bringing forth a 60’s Stratocaster like tone.
Often, an artist will use a custom version of their signature model to enhance the performance. That could be changing the specifications of the pickups, neck shape, etc. For the PRS Silver Sky, John made it a point to only use the production model and not any custom versions of the guitar. With that being said, it is confirmed that John uses the 635JM single-coil pickups every time you see him playing the Silver Sky, which is often.
“It replicates an old pickup, where the magnets on a 50-year-old pickup would have warmed up / weakened just a little bit so the top-end is gone. We made a pickup that does that from start and that is the most exciting to me.”John Mayer, Guitar Center Interview
For these pickups, John wanted to have the warmth that comes with 50-year-old guitars without having to wait 50 years or spend 15 grand on a relic. The 635JM pickups completely erase any harsh top-end that so many new guitars often have.
Wolfe Guitars writes how the chiming harmonics yielded by these pickups are impressive. And when you put them in front of a tube amp, you get a gorgeous growl with outstanding note definition. These pickups have a few modern tricks up their sleeve, too: they exhibit a higher signal-to-noise ratio than vintage models, and their in-between sounds are hum canceling. On top of that, their electronics have been precision valued- component matched, ensuring superior consistency from pickup to pickup.
PRS Silver Sky 635JM Pickups Reviews
So, what are experienced guitarists saying about these pickups? After scowering the internet and reading hundreds of reviews, there is not one bad comment on the pickups. Every single guitarist that tries the 654JM Single-Coil pickups loves them.
One of my favorite guitar reviewers, The Studio Rats, mentions how the pickups are definitely the best pickups that they have ever heard on a Stratocaster (Strat-like design for PRS). They even mention how these pickups are much more articulate than their Fender custom shop guitars.
Find Out How John Mayer Started Playing Guitar Today!
Overall, every guitarist aiming for either the John Mayer sound or a 60’s like blues sound is exceptionally impressed by these pickups. Personally, these are the best pickups I have ever played. They beat out my Texas Specials and Fender Standards overwhelmingly. So much so that I am always playing my Silver Sky while my Strat unfortunately gathers some dust.
Where Can You Get John Mayer’s Pickups?
The only way to get John Mayer’s pickups, 635JM Single Coil Pickups, is to purchase a PRS Silver Sky. PRS independently created these pickups and they do not sell them separately.
If you want these pickups in your Fender Stratocaster, as many do, it can be a little difficult to find them separate from the Silver Sky. With that being said, sometimes they pop up on Reverb for around $300. Many Fender fanatic guitarists are stalking Reverb for an opportunity to have these amazing pickups in their Stratocaster. I recommend doing the same if you truly desire these pickups without having to buy the Silver Sky.
Does John Mayer Use Humbuckers?
John Mayer does not typically use humbuckers. Since the main guitar he uses is the PRS Silver Sky, he often only uses single-coil pickups. Occasionally he will use humbuckers when he is going for a meatier tone or covering a B.B. King song.
The best performance with John Mayer using humbucker pickups is his cover of Ain’t No Sunshine. In this performance, John is using a Gibson ES-335 in Cherry Red with humbucker pickups.
The solo for I Guess I Just Feel Like was recorded with a Gibson using humbucker pickups. You can watch the video here: Making of “I Guess I Just Feel Like”.
To summarize, yes John occasionally uses guitars with humbucker pickups. Although, it is not often and has not been seen yet on his Sob Rock tour (2022).
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