Rigs: John (Mayer) vs. Johnny (Ramone)

September 14, 2010 | By | 8 Replies More

We break down rigs here at WoodyTone. It’s fun, I dig it, you dig it…so, much as I didn’t want to, I eventually clicked on a Premier Guitar video rundown of John Mayer’s rig (below). And….

I didn’t want to because I’m not a fan of Mayer or PG vids. But I figured hey, I might learn something, write it down, maybe someone who reads this will dig it.

Well, I learned jack. Zip. Captain donuts.

You might, though. If you’re a Mayer fan or just curious how he sets his amps, you can see that easily on the Dumble, and almost as easily on the Two-Rock and Band Master. If you’re curious about his effects, you get to see most of them – but not all (c’mon PG, get a clue!).

Okay, I learned one thing – besides the fact that PG is using cute chicks to try and get you to watch their vids: I now might have an idea of why I instinctively don’t dig Mayer’s stuff. What I mean is, do you really have to tour with 40 guitars, have three amps on at once and use – I didn’t count but will say conservatively – 30 stompboxes? Seriously?

What are we talking here, $100K worth of gear?!

Are you a rock musician at that point, or just a tap-dancing gear hound?

Can you not sound good and stun your audience with A guitar, AN amp and ZERO friggin’ boxes on the floor? I bet Mayer could. Really. But he doesn’t.

I’m sure you can point to many guit-slingers who have and do, but here’s someone who does (as recorded) and did (live) but we don’t talk about much: Johnny Ramone.

Johnny, who unfortunately died of cancer in 2004 (RIP bro!), had this as his perennial rig:

> Mosrite guitar into a Marshall JMP 100w MV head, Marshall cabs.

Done. That’s it.

It sounded great, he didn’t need anything else and – truth be told – unlike John, Johnny probably couldn’t afford much else.

Now, Johnny couldn’t have played John’s stuff, but the opposite is true too. Because rock is attitude, man! Mayer has…some tats (nice try on the attitude), lots of chops (props to him), too much gear and is a fine singer (yes, but would you really prefer him over Bon Scott?) – but where’s the darn fire? Any Mayer fans out there? Does he have fire? If so, can he possibly have it, or express it, with all that gear on the flo’?

I don’t know, man. Maybe I need to be skinning a mastodon in a tick-filled loincloth somewhere. Maybe I’m that stuck in the past. But I don’t think so – or at least I’m not alone. One sign is all the amazing boutique amps out there – they’re meant to capture or enhance vintage tones. Not be muffled by 70 miles of cable and more stompboxes than you can count on your fingers and toes.

And as Johnny showed us all, you don’t need amazing chops to have great tone and rock. Dammit!


When you Google for Mayer images, you get a bunch of People magazine-like photos (with girls, on boats, paparazzi stuff). When you Google Johnny, you get him holding a guitar!


> From a short thegearpage.net thread about Johnny’s gear: “Although he used a few different Mosrites through the years, most people remember him for the modified white Mark II Mosrite. That guitar had a Dimarzio FS-1 which was wired to be always on. The neck pickup (not used and not wired to be used) was a Seymour Duncan Firebird mini-humbucker.”

Category: John Mayer, Johnny Ramone, Rants

Comments (8)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. Santana’s Simple (Pretty Much) Rig | September 16, 2010
  1. Joaquin says:

    AND John Mayer doesnt have any personality, using guitars like a hendrix guitar EVH frankestrats you lose your own style, and johnny had his unique style and that makes it better in many aspects than john mayer

  2. snaresy says:

    good article, man. JR doesn't get that much credit, but he's SO distinctive.

    And yeah, i'd take Bon over Mayer any day…

  3. Neal says:

    only 3 amps? Nothing like that Joe Perry rig you had on here. I can't buy into the Mayer bashing, I know he's a hit with the ladies and his badboy image has been cultivated but his playing is hard to knock and his live tone on the TRY! album sounds good to me. Also the lead break on their rendition of Wait until Tomorrow is really solid and full of fire. I'd say Derek Trucks has no visible fire at all but again you can't knock the playing. Ya, John's style moves around but so what? Dude is clearly on a tone quest and has put in the time to hone his chops, he writes solid lyrics and brings Blues based guitar to the Pop masses. It's art man, not everyone is going to like it which I understand and that's the way it should be but at least he's out there doing it. It must be a pain to have put in so much time and effort into being the musician he is and have people write him off because of his fashion sense or occasional stupid things he says when trying too hard to fit in with the street cred crowd. Let him play I say, let's see where he takes us.

  4. Adam says:

    If Mayer wasn't trying so hard, he'd get more credit from the critics. When he says or does things purely for the press, he losses credibility, IMO. If Ramone had tried to fit in, everyone would bash the crap out of him and he would forever lose his credibility.

    Personally, I like the Ramones.

    • Neal says:

      I think you're absolutely right. It would have been way worse if a Ramone had tried to fit into any mold other than Punk (which I'm pretty sure they worked at keeping inside). Punk was based in a pretty strong idealism and any attempts to do be something else I think would have been heavily frowned upon. Mayer is not a punker, just a modern dude in a world where everywhere he goes he's being recorded. I'd bet it's because he doesn't have a movement like punk to fit into that he finds it harder to make his own way. I think he'll get it eventually. The Ramones didn't have to put up with this crap. I like the Ramones, I listen to Mayer more, though he's not in my top 10 probably.

  5. Bob says:

    1) I'll defend Mayer as he's a homeboy (Fairfield, Conn. – "the home of the blues" as JM wryly notes on the Trio live album). He needs the effects to replicate the sounds found on his albums, which are pretty heavily produced as most modern pop albums are. He would kill with just a Strat and a Fender amp, but that's not what his records sound like. 2) The Ramones played my high school (in the aforementioned Fairfield) in 1976. Johnny had two Marshall 1959 100-watt SuperLead full stacks. Dimed. In a high school auditorium. You felt the sound as much as you heard it. As spoiled suburban brats we were utterly clueless about what the Ramones were about at that time, but good grief, you couldn't forget them or their songs. RIP.

  6. masatori says:

    I saw the Ramones in 1984-85 and they ripped through their entire 2 album set in 18 minutes. People were standing there with their jaw dropped to the floor. I saw Marshalls and fender amp heads and cabs on stage and I thouht the bass was using the Marshalls and the guitar the Fender amps but I may have been mistaken. I thought J Ramone didn’t start using Marshall until the late 80s but what did I know as a kid? SEX PISTOLS SEX PISTOLS When I was 12 years old I saw theSEX PISTOLS on the news and their 3 month USA visas had been reduced to 7 days and sid vicious got off the plane and too a leak. I went to the record bar and the clerk turned me on to the ramones, took me in the back and sold me never mind the bollocks for 3.50 the album had just een banned in the usa. I still have the vinyl. I was ruined for life at the age of 12!

Leave a Reply