Whether you know John Mayer for his pop music, his blues prowess, or his surprising new signature guitar, you’re undoubtedly familiar with his incredible guitar tones.

In the past, he’s used a wide variety of expensive and boutique tube amplifiers, an arsenal of pedals and effects, and only the highest quality of instruments.

While the caliber of his instrument choice hasn’t changed, he’s recently made the switch to a digital system – the Fractal Audio AxeFX III – for his live work.

The Fractal unit was spotted during his performance at Coachella this weekend when he performed a guest spot on stage with Khalid during “Outta My Mind.”

(Skip to 1:35 for the guest spot)

This isn’t the first time he’s gotten out of his comfort zone with gear, however. A few years ago he was spotted with a Kemper Profiler, he was recently seen playing an 8-string Abasi Concepts guitar, and in 2018 Mayer released a signature guitar with PRS of all companies.

It should be noted that many artists who are known for their particularly detailed ear for tone have made the switch to digital units purely during their live show for convenience and keeping costs down.

In the studio, they’ll still rely on a wide variety of analog (and digital) gear to get the desired results. Which makes sense, the record lives forever, so if money isn’t a factor then it just comes down to using the best tool for that particular job.

While some digital users are looking at analog enthusiasts with a look that simply says “where is your god now?” there are no signs of Mayer switching over from analog completely, nor should he. However, his decision to use it live – and at such a large show – is a testament to just how convincing the technology has gotten.

Anyone who is passionate and particular about their guitar tone should take the same approach as Mayer: try everything, you never know what will create the sound in your head. Purists be damned.

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