date_range 2005

John Mayer’s 1963/64 Fender Stratocaster

John acquired this guitar sometime prior to the Continuum album (mid to late 2005), and used it on at least one song during the studio sessions (see quote below), but at the time of writing this, it is unknown which one in particular (if you happen to have any information regarding this, please be sure to get in contact). From then on, the guitar remained behind the scenes for the most part until just prior to the ‘Born and Raised’ tour in 2012, when it became John’s main stage instrument.

This somehow became kind of like go-to stage guitar for last two or three years. I had this guitar for almost exactly ten years, and the first time this guitar was on record was on Continuum record. [John Mayer on Periscope August 20th, 2015 – Gear Talk]

Although John does not mention the age of the guitar specifically, the exact year of manufacture is somewhat easy to figure out by looking at the pictures. If you Google a couple of high-res pictures of the guitar, you’ll notice that the headstock styles the early 60s spaghetti Fender logo, and it has three patent numbers below it. The third thing is the placement of the screws on the pickguard – in 1963 the screw between the neck and middle pickup was moved about 1/2″ closer towards the middle pickup. [Vintage Guitars Info’s Vintage Fender Guitars]

Based on that info, and on the fact that Fender completely changed the design of their logo in mid-1964, it is safe to say that John’s Stratocaster was made either in 1963 or sometime in early 1964.

Photo showing some of the details on the guitar, including 12th fret dot spacing, and pickguard screw placement. Photo by Rockin'Rita/Flickr

Photo showing some of the details on the guitar, including 12th fret dot spacing, and pickguard screw placement. Credit: Rockin’Rita on Flickr

The last thing that is interesting to note is the general design of the guitar, particularly the tortoise shell pickguard, instead of the stock white one. There doesn’t seem to be any official statement by Fender, but it seems that all the early 60s Strats in sunburst originally came equipped with white pickguards, meaning that John either replaced the old one himself or simply went shopping with this exact design in mind.

This is worth pointing out because this trend can be followed all the way back to his first SRV Stratocaster on which he replaced the original black pickguard with a tortoise one, and did that on almost every subsequential sunburst Stratocaster that he played afterward. It is therefore somewhat safe to assume that this is John’s favorite Stratocaster look/design.

Update (10/2016)

One of the members of the John Mayer Yuku forums (thanks Alejandro) pointed out that John answered a question regarding this guitar on the forums. His statement seems to confirm that this is indeed his favorite Stratocaster look:

It’s my favorite spec combination, sunburst with tortoise pick guard and rosewood fretboard. You see a lot of basses with that look, I think Dela (David LaBruyere) had one the whole time we were playing together. […] I didn’t decide on it being a top 5 guitar, it just sort of kept getting used until one day I looked back and realized it was my favorite vintage Strat. It really is perfect. It’s like a Stratavarius. [JM Answers Some Questions From Our Own Musicians…]

John also points out that the guitar was re-fretted by Chris Fleming at the Fender Custom Shop, and the original 3-way switch was replaced with a modern 5-way by his guitar tech Rene Martinez.

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