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Another key (and a BIG one) in the search for the John Mayer tone is selecting the correct style of amplifier. For years now Mayer has been using Two-Rock amplifiers, which are a variety of the infamous Dumble style amplifier. To make a long story short, starting in the late 60’s, Alexander “Howard” Dumble was building amplifiers for all kinds of guitarists, including Stevie Ray Vaughan. Only 300 or so of these amplifiers were rumored to ever be created, and they are now very expensive, if you can even find one.
John Mayer amps on stage – Dumble (left) and Two-Rock (right)
photo courtesy aaron warren – www.flickr.com/photos/pedalfreak/4778288116/
Fast forward 50 years later and there are dozens of companies who build amplifiers that are based on the tone of those original Dumble amps. Two Rock is one of those companies, and is John Mayer’s amp of choice. The clean tone of these style of amps is a huge foundation in John Mayer’s tone, and anyone who’s played one can attest to that. The overdrive tone comes more from his use of pedals, which are featured on the Pedals page.
John’s Two-Rock is a limited edition signature model which is no longer in production, but it is based on the Two-Rock Custom Reverb model, which is still available.
Two-Rock Limited Edition John Mayer Signature Amp
Two-Rock has also recently come out with small studio-sized amps, such as the Two-Rock Studio Pro 22, which offers Dumble-like tone in a lower watt package.
Two-Rock Studio Pro 22
But Two Rock isn’t the only option in the Dumble-arena. There are a number of companies that build Dumble style amplifiers, at a variety of different prices. Arguably, the most popular runner-up to the Two-Rock amongst Mayer fans is the one of the Ceriatone Overtone models.
Ceriatone Overtone Special (Dumble Clone)
These Ceriatone amps are made in Malaysia, can be had for under $2,000, and sound fantastic:
John has been to known to use several different Fender amplifiers, such as the following:
Several Mayer fans praise the Fender Blues Junior, a relatively inexpensive amp, as a great portable tone machine. Others have also achieved great tones on the Egnater Tweaker 15, another small amp that has a Fender voicing option.
So in short, the John Mayer tone begins with a Dumble, or at least Fender voiced amplifier. There are several great models out there, and plenty of demos available on the internet. If you’re looking for a good deal, hit your local music store and try their selection of Fender amps. If you have more to spend, you can’t go wrong with a Two-Rock or a Ceriatone.
Guitar… check. Amplifier… check. Now you just need to pick out some effects to round out the Mayer tone. You can see some of the most popular Mayer pedals on the Pedals page…