You wouldn’t know it by looking at it, but John Mayer’s Black1 Strat is one of the newer additions to the ever growing list of Historic Fender Guitars. After coming into some downtime after his Heavier Things World Tour, Mayer began contemplating building his own custom Stratocaster from the ground up. He called the Fender Custom Shop and they invited him down. The rest has become music history.
Mayer said he came up with the idea for the guitar while playing Fender’s Stevie Ray Vaughan Tribute Stratocaster, which is a distressed, relic style Strat. Mayer said that he fell in love with the way the guitar felt while he played it and became fascinated with the idea of a guitar without paint or lacquer. However, he was also concerned that a guitar with no paint at all would be too “rustic” for his taste. This is why he decided to go with the vintage, relic look.
It is interesting that the guitar, which is known for its incredibly cool vintage look, was only made to look that way in order to get the resonating feel that Mayer was looking for. In the video, Mayer explains that the idea was for the guitar to have “more negative space than positive space in terms of paint.” This is a unique twist on the reasons behind designing a relic guitar.
Here is a video of Mayer talking about the guitar with clips of him actually working on it