John Mayer? Crazy, yes. But he’s also a crazy good guitar player.


What comes to mind when you think of John Mayer? Do you think of the reports that he chose Twitter over Jennifer Aniston? Do you think of his unusual references to his libido? You may even think of him as the sunken-eyed singer-songwriter who writes mushy fem-pop turds like “Your Body is a Wonderland.” Sure, I’ve thought all of these things. And yeah, in my estimation John Mayer is a little bit crazy. But he’s also a talented musician and a fantastic guitar player.

I urge you to get your hands on a full John Mayer album – it doesn’t matter which one – and listen to the whole album. I guarantee you’ll be surprised with his skills as a guitarist. Every song is chock-full of guitar goodness. Mayer is not flashy nor extremely fast, but he always manages to play meaningful solos and craft compelling song structures with the guitar.

And that’s the fascinating aspect of John Mayer’s playing. He only has a few measures to express himself in a solo since his material is mostly pop-oriented. In fact, considering the current trends away from improvisation, it’s amazing that there are even solos in his songs. Even with a limited amount of time to stretch his legs, he manages to create memorable and tasteful solos. I’ve always admired that ability and Mayer certainly has it.

Mayer’s guitar playing expertise isn’t just put on display when he improvises. He is also a fantastic rhythm player. His music isn’t riff-centric, so his excellent rhythm playing may not be apparent at first. Listen to “Why Georgia” from the Room for Squares album  and you’ll hear a catchy two-bar riff that is just fun to listen to and a joy to play. “Neon,” from the same album, is an incredible example of his rhythm playing ability.

Aside from being a mega-popular pop star, Mayer’s street-cred with guitarists like me comes from his blues roots. In fact, he has a side project called the John Mayer Trio with several albums featuring blues and blues/rock songs exclusively. But even if you listen to his mainstream pop songs closely, you can hear blues and R&B in there.

John Mayer is crazy, that’s for sure. But no one can deny his ability to create music for the guitar. Think I’m crazy too? Take a listen. Here are ten fantastic John Mayer tunes sure to make you a believer. And no, “Your Body is a Wonderland” is not one of them.

1. “Neon,” Room for Squares

2. “Stop This Train,” Continuum

3. “83,” Room For Squares

4. “Why Georgia,” Room for Squares

5. “Bold as Love,” Continuum

6. “Only Heart,” Heavier Things

7. “Belief,” Continuum

8. “Bigger Than My Body,” Heavier Things

9. “My Stupid Mouth,” Room for Squares

10. “Perfectly Lonely,” Battle Studies

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4 responses to “John Mayer? Crazy, yes. But he’s also a crazy good guitar player.

  1. Anyone intersted in watching a very enjoyable DVD with some great music should grab “where the light is” dvd. I particularly enjoy Mayer’s “Trio” songs on this disc. Great recording, and his guitar playing will suprise you! If you’re searching for inspiration as a guitarist, listen to “Out of my Mind” cut. It’s a real treat!

  2. Pingback: How to play the solo to John Mayer’s “Only Heart” | Guitar Lessons Baltimore·

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