Prince:  The Unsung Guitar Hero

May 29, 2012

Prince with GuitarBorn Prince Rogers Nelson in 1958, Prince became a driving force in the pop scene in the 1980’s.  His interest in music began early in life and 1978 he released his debut album For You at just 17 years old.  This was quickly followed up in 1979 with his platinum sophomore release Prince.  From there his success continued with his next three albums and the release of the major motion picture Purple Rain and accompanying soundtrack.  Prince was giving even Michael Jackson a run for airtime on MTV and his controversial lyrics and erotic live show continued to keep him in the spotlight.  Prince played all 27 instruments on his debut album as well as writing and producing the entire thing (the song “Soft and Wet” was co-written by Moon) himself.  Besides his multi-instrumental talent, he is also has produced artists such as Sheila E., Carmen Electra, The Time, and Vanity 6.  Throughout his career he has been controversial and enigmatic, from pushing the boundaries of public decency to changing his name to a symbol; Prince has kept himself in the public eye despite a slump in album sales in the mid 1990’s. 

This behavior combined with his flamboyancy is what first comes to mind for the general populace when Prince’s name is mentioned, along with the melody to “Little Red Corvette”.  What isn’t always apparent to the mass public is his astonishing instrumental talent.  He can play practically any instrument with style and does most of the writing, arranging, and recording of every instrument on his albums.  But we aren’t interested in all the instruments he plays now are we?  We’re guitarists and as such, we are interested in his guitar playing and his gear.  One thing that is overlooked in lieu of his eccentric behavior and odd looking custom guitars is just how well the guy can rock an ax!  Don’t believe me?  Check out this all-star performance at his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Prince’s guitar solo begins at 3:28):


The Technique

Prince is much more than just a guitarist.  He is a composer and producer with the ability to conduct a group much like a symphony.  His instrumental abilities supersede most mortals and his guitar playing is no exception.  He is extremely skilled and well versed in many styles and by not tying himself to any particular one he has total freedom in songwriting and expression in his music.  He is a master of call and response, using two instruments or an instrument and vocals to play off each other in what could be called an instrumental “conversation”.  Prince is an accomplished funk guitarist with a unique sense of when to throw in the classic rock solos.  His melody and texture can be felt in most every note he plays.  He knows how and when to shred but most of all, he seems to know how to make every note count and not a lot of guitarists can make that claim.  He’s also a fan of awe-inspiring sustained notes and bends.  He knows how to use his fingers and volume to get unending sustain and can control feedback like a conductor leads an orchestra.  He definitely deserves his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his ranking at #27 for the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine.  He has been compared to legends like Hendrix and Santana for his extravagant bends and vibrato as well as his harsh stabs and guitar grunts.  Though he seems to love to play fast, every note is accounted for and they all have feeling.  From gorgeous acoustic to 80’s shred, Prince seems to have no limits on what he can make a guitar do. 

The Gear

Given that Prince has had a career spanning over three decades now, the list of gear he has used is relatively short.  He seems to have his mainstays but there has been some rotation throughout the years.  His philosophy is that everyone should find their own tone so he doesn’t go out of his way to be forthcoming with his gear setup.  There is some info out there but it’s not exactly easy to track down and the timeline is somewhat confusing unless you saw him live many times throughout his career. Prince's Guitar Rig


One brand that seems to have made an impression on him is Mesa Boogie.  He has been seen playing several models of Mesa Boogie amplifiers throughout the years such as the Heartbreaker, Nomad, and Lonestar as well as a Strategy 500 power amp paired with a Soldano/Caswell preamp.  These Mesa heads were usually paired with either Mesa Recto 4x12 cabs or Marshall 4x12 cabs loaded with Vintage 30’s (the Marshall’s).   Earlier in his career (I believe) he was playing through Soldano SLO-100 heads and he has also been seen playing Orange AD140HTC heads with Orange 412 cabinets.  He’s also been known to play through Peavey 5150 4x12’s loaded with EV speakers.

Prince MadCat TelecasterGuitars

One part of his rig that has stood out for a good portion of his career is his guitars.  Known for the unique Cloud guitars as well as his Symbol guitar, Prince’s instruments reflect his personality and stage presence.  Let’s have a look at some of his main axes.

MadCat H.S. Anderson/Hohner Telecaster

One of Prince’s mainstay guitars that he has been using since the early 80’s is the Hohner MadCat Telecaster, a Japanese made Fender Telecaster copy.  These were designed in the early 70’s and later H.S. Anderson sold the rights to Hohner in Germany.  Production stayed in Japan but with the Hohner logo.  The MadCat had a 25 ½” scale, two single coils and a fixed bridge with a maple body built with a walnut strip down the middle.  The front and back were book matched maple with fake tortoiseshell binding and a leopard print pickguard and plastic pickup ring.  The proximity of the bridge pickup to the bridge itself produced a unique tone that had the perfect honk for funk causing Prince to fall in love with it.  He owns several examples of these, most of which have had the neck replaced at one point due to him wearing them out.

Cloud Guitars

The Cloud guitar was first seen in the movie Purple Rain.  There were four of these originally built by David Husain, a luthier at Knut Koupee music store in Minneapolis.  This unique looking instrument caught Prince’s eye as well as his fans.  The originalPrince Cloud Guitar Cloud guitars were all maple, neck through construction with Love Symbol inlays at the fret markers.  They had a 24 ¾” scale length with 22 medium jumbo frets and a 12” radius.  They were loaded with an EMG 81 in the bridge position and an EMG SA single-coil in the neck position with one volume, one tone, and a 3-way pickup selector.  The Cloud guitars had a brass nut and truss rod cover and Schaller hardware was gold-plated.

There were only the four that have been played by Prince throughout the years though there are replicas in the some Hard Rock Cafés around the world.  These were built by Prince’s guitar tech at the time, numbered, and included a Certificate of Authenticity but not actually played by Prince himself.  Schecter Guitars was also commissioned to build replica’s that were available only through Prince’s website and at his live shows.  These were available in bolt-on and neck-through with Duncan Designed pickups and Grover machine heads.  Some of the later examples of these had a 25 ½” scale and were missing the brass nut and truss rod cover.

Love Symbol Guitar

Prince Love Symbol GuitarPerhaps the most standout guitar model in Prince’s stable is the Love Symbol guitar.  This was originally built by a German luthier, Jerry Auerswald.  The original one was made from antique maple and painted gold.  It is a neck-through design with 24 frets, 24 ¾” scale, and the same EMG pickups as the Cloud guitars.  The bridge was made by Jerry and it was equipped with Schaller M6 machine heads.

Two copies of the Love Symbol guitar were built by one of Prince’s guitar techs, a white and a black one.  These were mahogany and as such, not very durable, especially since Prince loves to throw his guitar up in the air and let it crash to the stage.  The lower horn on the white model has been glued back on.   Other models of the Symbol guitar were built by Schecter Guitars in their USA facility, one being equipped with a Floyd Rose.  These are the guitars Prince currently uses on stage.

These are the most recognizable guitars in Prince’s stable but he has also played a Les Paul Jr. covered with fake fur, a Lake Placid Blue Stratocaster, Dark Blue Telecaster with flowers, a George Benson autographed Ibanez archtop, and Auerswald Model C guitars equipped with sustain bows. 


When it comes to effects, Prince seems to like Boss, all of them!  While it very well could be that Prince owns the entire Boss line of effects, he is commonly seen with these:

Boss BF-2 Flanger


Boss BF-2 Flanger



Boss BD-2 Blues Driver


Boss BD-2 Blues Driver



Boss OD-2 Turbo Overdrive


Boss OD-2 Turbo Overdrive



Boss MT-2 Metal Zone


Boss MT-2 Metal Zone



Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion


Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion



Boss VB-2 Vibrato


Boss VB-2 Vibrato



Boss DD-3 Digital Delay


Boss DD-3 Digital Delay



Boss OC-2 Octave


Boss OC-2 Octave



Digitech WhammyAlong with his love of Boss effects, Prince is a regular user of the Digitech Whammy, Dunlop Crybaby Wah (though he has been known to use a Colorsound Wah as well), and Line 6 MM4 modulation modeler.  Other effects he has been known to usePrince's Pedalboard include the Dunlop Rotovibe, Roland GP-16, and a Zoom 9030. 

Prince is much more than just a guitarist but often his skill is overlooked in lieu of his extravagant live shows and pop sensibilities.  As guitarists here at PGS, we felt it only proper to give some love to one of the industry's greats, his majesty Prince for his stellar musical abilities but also for his mastery of the six-string.  Thanks for reading folks!  We’ll see you next time, in The Corner.


  1. Abbacus says:

    The question on everbody’s mind at his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: who caught his guitar (and how)  when he chucked it straight up into the air at the end of his solo?

    posted on May 31, 2012 at 8:48 am
  2. Roman Garcia says:

    That solo at the end is one of the greatest I’ve ever heard live.

    posted on June 1, 2012 at 2:14 am
  3. Skattabrain says:

    wow, he could play any gear he wants and he chooses Boss?

    he is a monster player… Doves Cry intro… blistering.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 5:30 am
  4. Dksouthpaw says:

    Where did you guys get or make the pic of his pedal board layout? I’ve seen those before and I want to make one for mine!

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 5:31 am
  5. TrowerDude says:


    posted on June 2, 2012 at 5:40 am
  6. Kyle says:

    If he was born in 58’ and he put out his first album in 78’ how could he be 17 years old?

    I guess he is magic!?!

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 5:40 am
  7. filippo says:

    the guitar solo posted reminds me of Zappa…

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 5:40 am
  8. Shepherd says:

    He’s also (never mentioned) clearly a Hendrix freak, and has perfect pitch, just to round out the list of gifts and tendencies.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 5:45 am
  9. naterock says:

    Not to be uptight, but it seems like there’s some bad math in this article.  If he was born in 1958, how could he have been 17 in 1978?

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 5:50 am
  10. Shepherd says:

    What would have happened if that guy hadn’t help him up during the solo when he almost fell over backwards off the stage at the RnRHOF gig? lol And as far as throwing his guitar up, he’s never trash his fav gtr. Must have been on a wire and someone pulled it up…

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 5:51 am
  11. jontheartguy says:

    I knew he was a beast for a looooooong time. There’s some humongous solos he made that really stuck with me.  “Lets go (or get?)  Crazy” really opened my eyes when he let go with that breakdown at the end. He holds his guitar like Jimi too. All lazy, like someone would hold a rifle that’s not being shot.

    So how about that distortion fetish he’s got?  Soldanos and Mesas and Oranges,  as well as every nasty hi gain pedal Boss makes? Who’d have thought his rig could be mistaken for a death metal guitarists until you saw the guitar…

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 6:01 am
  12. jd says:

    Lame? Really? I find the lamest thing on earth the people that spend all of their time trying to sound like old white guys, trower, clapton, etc. Its hilarious that they make money off of you lemmings who want to wank in your bedroom or basement to self indulgent 5 minute pentatonic solos. Make sure to buy the latest “signature pedal” lol
    Prince is a fucking genius. You dont have to like him but dont troll especially with a handle that lets everybody know that your thing is derivative, unoriginal middle aged frat guy blues-rock.


    posted on June 2, 2012 at 6:02 am
  13. thuggyBear says:

    You know, when I say Prince just tear that solo up at the R&R Hall Of Fame show, I though “Finally!  He’s back!”

    Hopefully his new record will let him embrace his Hendrixian godhood again.  After ‘U Got The Look’, I sort of lost interest.  He spot on SNL a few years ago was kind of a bummer.

    The look on his face makes him seem just as surprised as we are as he blows us away.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 6:15 am
  14. Telecasterchris says:

    Prince killed it.  Lame only to narrow minded, inside the box players!

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 6:36 am
  15. Brett Mikels says:

    It is a rare individual who’s skills across the board are so advanced that one can at times, outshine the other. He is a MASTER of it all!! (guitar, songwriting, producing, arranging, singing, performing, etc) So much so, in fact, that can be utterly overwhelming to witness. When you see him live, it just moves you to tears and complete sensory exhaustion.  That he has endured, evolved, grown, and is STILL leveling audiences with his art and genius is a true gift to the world, and as well, continued inspiration and education to those of us walking down that path, doing our thing the very best we can. Thank you PGS for taking the time, thank you Prince… for everything!

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 7:19 am
  16. Blackie James says:

    More of the players today should take inspiration from real players like Prince. He put in his time and learned how to play. You mention old fat white guy rock blues well don’t forget old fat long haired tattooed hard rock heavy metal idiots.  Now there is a bunch of guys that have been playing the same dweedle dweedle licks through heavy distortion and high volumes for the last forty years.  They still think they are twenty years old and ultra cool, give me a break.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 7:30 am
  17. Scott Abbe says:

    When I first saw Prince, I just saw a little guy that was playing music I didn’t really like, so I just wrote him off. Then he did When Doves Cry and I kind of started to pay a little attention to him. I next saw him during a concert(on video) break into a solo and was BLOWN AWAY!! It was then that I knew that if he really wanted to, he could BE the next Hendrix. At that point I have had respect for his guitar playing. I may still think some of his music is….well let’s just say, not my style, but he will ALWAYS have my respect for his guitra playing chops.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 7:46 am
  18. Keith says:

    Love his pyrotechnics!  What a player.  He’s truly a master showman/entertainer as well.  He gained eye contact with his bodyguard/bouncer/assistant right before he turned around and leaned back against his hands.  I’m sure that’s who caught his guitar there at the end too.  What flare!!

    As for those hating on him and then on Trower, WTF guys?  Really?  Seemed like such a great respite from the insanity of the comments on Youtube vid’s but here we go again.  This lemming likes Prince AND Trower just fine.  Anyone who has decent chops should have learned that it’s not a contest.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 7:51 am
  19. just gear says:

    prince = genius…very rare individual which shows in his music…
    as well known as he is, i think he is still somewhat underrated!!

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 7:57 am
  20. steve tucc says:

    Genius and has always been a gtr. players gtr.player.
    Flowing solos w/fast shreds and all perfectly navagated into every perfect place.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 8:39 am
  21. Reverend Bluesdog Lawrence says:

    Prince shines here, playing in the box.  Although I endorse his “funk”, I really enjoy HIS “in the box, lemming style” playing that he does FREQUENTLY.  i agree with Kieth wholeheartedly….anyone with chops knows it’s not a contest!  And one who thinks there are “Lemmings” out there, ain’t got the first clue what it’s all about.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 8:54 am
  22. marty smith says:

    all his solo did for me was show me his lack of respect for the great people on stage with him….. the cocky little fucker has little man syndrome

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 9:06 am
  23. ESE says:

    Coincidentally I just watched “Rave Un2 the Year 2000” today. Picked it up for only a few bucks, and was impressed by what a great concert registration it is. Prince always intrigued me ever since I heard “The Gold Experience” as a kid. I sat in my sister’s car listening to it while she was at the vet with her cat. The above description of Prince’s “technique” is dead-on!

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 9:20 am
  24. Guitrmn says:

    Actually, designer and builder of Prince’s cloud and symbol guitars was Dave RUSAN, and one is actually in the Smithsonion Institute. I know because he has been my guitar tech for almost twenty years and is the best in Minny. Oh, and I also went to high school with Mr. Nelson. Mpls Central High class of ‘76.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 9:54 am
  25. jontheartguy says:

    @marty smith pffft, really? So those over-the-shoulder looks at other musicians with a “shall we keep going?” look was disrespectful? I’m guessing you haven’t spent a lot of time jamming with a band. He dutifully broke character, and actually stopped his solo action a couple times at the corner, only to be nudged back on by the other guitarists.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 10:04 am
  26. Guitrmn says:

    I too was very jealous of Prince for a long time, but that was because he was so talented at age 15, and I was such a hack at playing guitar at the time. All guitarists who are true musicians appreciate and do not begrudge the talents of others, especially someone as talented as Prince, or anyone else for that matter. I still remember the talent shows and pep rallies at H.S. when ‘Roger’ rocked the auditorium. I am honored and lucky to have seen it.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 10:12 am
  27. harvard_exp says:

    Re: the “bad” math…  It was an idea cooked up by Prince’s first manager, to shave off a couple years on his first Warner Bros. bio, to make him look like even more of a musical genius to write, arrange, perform and produce his first album at 17, instead of 19, his actual age when the album was released.  His real birth year was discovered later, yet journalists continued to not get the “math” right.

    Andy, you the man for writing this article - your status as “guitar guru” is now official in my book, LOL!

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 10:35 am
  28. marty smith says:

    actually i’ve been playing for 45 years, 20 of those pro….. i wasnt saying the little feller couldnt play, and i wasnt saying hes not a whiz in the studio, but ive run enough jams and seen too many people that wanted to show off for the big boys, and this is what it looked like to me…i would rather hear some lame old guy milk a beautiful tone out of a few notes than see someones ego blasting out, any day…..

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 10:50 am
  29. marty smith says:

    heres some real guitarist that are STILL putting out quality stuff without kissing anyones ass ....
    Wishbone Ash

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 10:58 am
  30. Jack D says:

    I never liked Princes’ pimp act.  He’s a turd with talent. You can have him.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 11:27 am
  31. marty smith says:

    one last word…. i dont care HOW good you are, if you THINK you are that good, then that ruins it for me…..his ego smudges his talent to the point of negation…like a shiny piece of shit, it might be shiny but its still shit

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 11:42 am
  32. Joey Aleman says:

    EGO, isn’t that one and I say only one ,reason why the majority of us get on stage and play,not necessarily all Ego, but if 1 person out there in Crowd land, loves my Solo, it does a lot for my ego , and makes me want to Be a better Musician,If I had just a whiff of People like Princes’ talent, I’d be pretty happy with myuself, I know of a few Guitarist who are Good, but nowhere the Talent of Prince, with Huge Egos,” Shiny Piece of shit ” you say Marty Smith, I say he’s Shit hot, along with the likes of Hendrix, Clapton, and Co.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm
  33. Patrick Pruitt says:

    At the end of the day Prince is a beast and one of the most talented musicians you’ll ever see. You either just accept it or come up with excuses that can’t support any case against it.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm
  34. Jonathan Ross says:

    David Rusan built the Cloud guitars for Prince.  You had his name wrong.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 3:05 pm
  35. Guy Wilson-Mendes says:

    Great article! Thanks for covering this musical genius.

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 10:03 pm
  36. southbound says:

    I wanted to dislike that purple rain disco duck top 40 dance dude but when I noticed him right before the Super Bowl during the press media day i thought yeah whatever nice silent gimmick but then…. Suddenly he is shredding on the guitar!!!! Whoa , I immediately took notice! He grabbed my attention and I just had to find out where that came from… My inquizziveness led me to surf the web and I found a few rare live vids here and there…. they dont stay up on the tube very long before they are taken down .... But i really quickly found a new respect for this incredible freak of a performer and talented bandsman! I also got a great apprciation for just what a real old school R+B show is all about. Man I love that soul ! Man sometimes we all gotta get outta our own lil niche and appreciate the other stuff besides our own stuff. Ya gotta embrace other cultures and styles and be more universal…. Im a total classic rock british blues white boy from the early 70’s but wtf… I kinda been getting into my dads big band music these days too….. Anyways Prince Rocks and funny how it all goes full circle to the heart and soul of where the heritage of modern american melting pot of peoples music seems to come from!? Prince youre a fuking freak and i wish i was as big a freak as you!

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 11:07 pm
  37. guitarboy says:

    For years, I allowed Prince’s narcissistic behavior and appearance to dominate what I thought of him, but when I started paying attention to his guitar playing, I was totally blown away! His solos, his tone, his phrasing, and his songwriting are among the best ever! He rocks!!!

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 11:31 pm
  38. Adam Smale says:

    It sure would be nice to be able to actually see the effects chain, it’s so small you can’t make out anything. The guitars are awfully small too. Any way of enlarging them so we could actually see?


    posted on June 2, 2012 at 11:48 pm
  39. Emil says:

    @Adam Smale:

    Right-click and “show picture”

    posted on June 2, 2012 at 11:59 pm
  40. Jason Temple says:

    Thanks so much for giving some guitar props to Prince. He’s a HUGELY underrated guitar player. I’m still shocked that he wasn’t on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 greatest guitarists a few years back. Jack White was #7 and Prince doesn’t even make the list! WTF! As far as his ego, it is huge. I think if he had another person to reel him in when he records his albums, he’d have more consistent albums. Emancipation is a perfect example. What turned out to be a three disc set of 10 incredible songs and 20 or so of ok jams, could’ve easily been one album of excellence, like Purple Rain. I’ll still take his music over any “guitar-slinger” anyday.
    I’ve seen him live twice and his shows are legendary. Despite his ego, he always gives the other band members plenty of solo time to shine. As he should with the world-class musicians he employs. As for people that say he was over the top at the Hall of Fame ceremony, don’t forget he WAS one of the inductees. He kind of has the right to steal the show. As for as I could tell the rest of the band enjoyed it, especially George Harrison’s son.
      Great job as usual PGS

    posted on June 3, 2012 at 1:56 am
  41. Jason Temple says:

    Also…..besides the many hits he’s written for himself, he’s written some huge songs for other artists.

    Manic Monday-The Bangles
    Nothing Compares 2 U-Sinead O’Connor
    I Feel For You-Chaka Khan

    posted on June 3, 2012 at 2:01 am
  42. Jason Temple says:

    oops…I guess he DID make the RS list. I swear, I thought he didn’t. Regardless, I still don’t think he gets his props as a guitar player. My bad :-(

    posted on June 3, 2012 at 2:08 am
  43. Missysman58 says:

    Although my late girlfriend was a HUGE Prince fanatic, I never much cared for the guys’ work.

    However, as a guitarist and Hendrix fanatic, I’ve got to give the man cred—the dude can shred like nobody’s business! I’m still not crazy about his music overall, but his axe work, (despite its flamboyance, which can be overlooked) is indisputably brilliant. Full of emotion and fire, he seems to have achieved that holy grail to which most of us guitar players aspire—that heart-head-hand connection that enables us to play what we feel, and play technically flawlessly.

    And as for the comments on Robin Trower—leave that man alone! He, too is a genius, and one of my very first guitar heroes, and deserves his place in the Hall of Fame. Cheers!

    posted on June 3, 2012 at 2:08 am
  44. telecasterchris says:

    Disrepect?  Really!  If you can’t show off at a R-R Hall of fame show, where can you show off.?  I thought all hall of fame jam sessions were about having fun and showing off.  Some people are just to damn serious.

    posted on June 3, 2012 at 3:02 am
  45. Don Myers says:

    At last! The straight story on the ‘Hohner’ guitar. In the 70s and early 80s, I had TWO HS Anderson instruments. They were brilliant and unbelievably well-made. I’d give plenty to have either of them back (a ‘Mad Cat’ and an ‘A2’, which was Alembic-looking and had great mini-humbuckers). It’s really hard to find information on the Anderson guitars.

    posted on June 3, 2012 at 4:32 am
  46. Blinder Fleck says:

    @marty smith - to quote the late great Jaco Pastorious, “If you can do it, it ain’t braggin’”. Obviously, Prince can do it all, so why rag on the guy? I have to say the R’nR HoF show really opened my eyes to his guitar abilities and brought a new-found sense of respect. As for his stage antics, etc. I could care less. Having had the chance to work for him back in the early years, just after Purple Rain, I can attest to the fact that he’s a stand up guy too. Eccentric but talented in many areas outside the realm of music. You can say all you want but his success speaks for itself.

    posted on June 3, 2012 at 7:54 am
  47. Tom says:

    Trower dude say “lame” you gotta be kidding. Are you even a guitar player?  That was just AWESOME!  you don’t have to like Prince but respect his playing.  How many guitarists can play that well and make it look so effortless.  He is definately in the top 10 maybe top 5

    posted on June 3, 2012 at 8:43 am
  48. Baxterhuxtable says:

    This is proof NO GEAR MATTERS. Prince would make any guitar, any amp, any pedal sound like him. Just look at all the variety of amps/guitars he’s used. None of it matters, he’s gonna put it down no matter what. Children, take note.

    posted on June 3, 2012 at 2:07 pm
  49. unique says:

    prince’s guitar tech catches his guitar. he regularly throws his guitars. in speaking with one of his most well known ones, they don’t always catch them, and sometimes the guitars get damaged so they have to repair them

    also someone mentioned he wrote songs for other artists. he didn’t write waterfalls for TLC, and the versions you know of i feel for you and nothing compares 2 u were cover versions as they were released by him previously. he gave away NC2U to the family, one of his protoge acts. manic monday was also originally recorded by vanity 6 but not released. the original backing tracks prince recorded were used for the bangles version. they just added on some extra instruments and vox, but kept some backing vox

    if you want to hear prince play guitar, go digging for an unlreased album called the undertaker. it was released as a video. it’s 40 mins of prince playing blues/rock and showing off his guitar skills, accompanied by just bass and drums. recorded live in rehearsal. and the truth is an accoustic guitar album that may also be of interest

    oh, and boss pedals are used as they are easy to repair/replace and setup on tour, according to a long standing guitar tech. as others have pointed out, you can get all the gear prince has and still sound nothing like him. plenty have tried

    i’ve been fortunate to have him stand right in front of me shredding his guitar on many an occasion. i could literally reach out and touch the guitar, or have to duck/move to avoid being hit by it. it’s exceptional playing. two of my best every gigs were prince doing an accoustic guitar set one night and a rock themed set the other night, in his studio paisley park as part of a week playing a different set and style every night. it’s a shame he didn’t do an unplugged, as he did it with just one guitar alone on stage. the most unplugged you can get

    posted on June 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm
  50. BLR says:

    Prince doesn’t own several Hohner, but 2. He plays only one live, the other one was seen on Purple Rain tour and on the Nude Tour Tourbook in 1990.

    Prince did play on a Schecter Cloud Guitar, in 1999.

    You didn’t mention the latest guitar he’s used over the last years: custom made Stratocaster, with the same pick up configuration than the Cloud and Symbol, in different colors from 2004 to 2011.

    Last but not least, you don’t mention his latest purchase he used in his recent tour in Australia, a custom made VOX.

    posted on June 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm
  51. Mr_Riff says:

    How is it that he was born in 1958 yet he released his first album in 1978 at the age of 17?! Does not compute!

    posted on June 5, 2012 at 1:48 am
  52. JCL says:

    Yes, he’s a great guitarist. I’ve seen him play live a couple of times and I recommend it…but doesn’t anyone hear Peter Frampton’s solo almost note for note at the end of When Doves Cry? He’s pretty original as an overall performer but not very original when it comes to guitar solos.

    posted on June 5, 2012 at 3:11 am
  53. Keith says:

    Great string of comments for the most part!!  I think PGS and Andy have created a monster with ‘The Corner”.  ;-)  There are some really really knowledgeable people lurking here (me excluded heh heh!).  Regarding the Ego aspect of Prince, it seems that quite often self-confident people become great at what they pursue because of their self-confidence, but often that’s seen as ‘cocky’ or arrogant.  Obviously “the purple one” is a self-made man who doesn’t care what we think, which is how it should be.  On a side note, I saw an interview with Warren Haynes where he was asked “What is your greatest fear?” - His answer: “That I should ever think more of myself than others think of me”.  Great answer.  Obviously I prefer humility over flash but I’ll never begrudge Prince for marching to his own beat. 


    posted on June 5, 2012 at 3:18 am
  54. Kazwell says:

    Maybe he likes Boss, because his career goes back some years and at one time Boss was pedal king. Hopefully he is still using the made in Japan models.
    There HAD to have someone back there to catch that guitar. Aside from financial cost, ok sure he can afford a new and probably owns 20, but someone could have got crowned on the head with that thing. I was never a fan of his music, and knew he could solo, but his lead on As My Guitar Gently Weeps was awe inspiring and would have made George proud. My respect level for Prince went up a lot after hearing his playing on this video.

    posted on June 5, 2012 at 5:28 am
  55. Circusherse says:

    I think the guy who caught him was Jerome from Purple Rain. Morris Day’s butler or whatever? Don’t know if it was but it would be a hell of a throw back if it was! LOL

    posted on June 5, 2012 at 10:00 am
  56. Glenn says:

    Just a quick note on Prince’s Fender Strats; his main ones are Eric Clapton signature models which are then customized with the 1H 1S EMG pickup configuration and Floyd Rose trem system.

    posted on June 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm
  57. says:

    What’s wrong with flamboyance?  You don’t have to love him, but if you say you hate him, you’re just insecure that a guy who’s 5 feet tall, dancing around in his underwear can play circles around you.  In any case, see him live.  Spring for the pricey seats because he NEVER dissapoints. Top 3 live shows I’ve ever seen and I’ve pretty much seen em’ all.  Absolute genius.  Closest thing to Jimi on Earth and as a Jimi fan, I say with absolute confidence that…. he’s just as good.

    posted on June 6, 2012 at 1:00 am
  58. LL says:

    Prince is a musical genius, and a legendary guitar player.
    The heir to Hendrix in terms of solos and showmanship.

    posted on June 6, 2012 at 1:29 am
  59. JKD says:

    It’s not just his (awesome, crazy good) playing and feel, it’s his tone! Prince has always mastered this cutting yet round treble-boosted, highly saturated lead tone that brings players like Brian May to mind. Transitions very quickly to feedback yet he’s always in control. It’s very distinctive, love it.

    posted on June 6, 2012 at 2:15 am
  60. Keith says:

    @electricblackhorse - LMAO… so funny and so true!  If you had never seen the guy you’d never guess from hearing his guitar playing that he looked or acted like that. 

    @JKD - So true… am I the only one who would have guessed incorrectly that he has some germanium in his dirt lineup?  He’s definitely a dirt-before-mod guy… maybe I should give that a whirl.

    posted on June 6, 2012 at 2:35 am
  61. says:

    He’s an individual for sure, people mistake that for ego all the time. He’s a consummate professional and drives his band (s) hard.  For that, they all praise and have tons of respect for the guy and his work ethic.  He moves as fluidly on his feet as he does on guitar.  He reminds me of Fred Astaire and Jimi Hendrix all wrapped up into one. Youtube him doing a mashup of “Crimson and Clover/Wild Thing” on the Ellen show.  WOW. Shelia E. is on drums as well. Uh-Mazing!

    posted on June 6, 2012 at 5:40 am
  62. Keith says:

    @electricblackhorse - Thanks for the tip.. just watched it and you’re right.. AWESOME.  Kind of a bit of ‘Tom Jones’ too.. the way he gestures to the audience, although Jimi obviously did that a lot too.  Anyway, what a player and unlike guys like me who prefer to stay in the background (behind my amp if they would let me!).. Prince is the consumate showman.  Thanks again for the tip!  Can’t believe how few times it’s been viewed.  Another bene to hanging around “The Corner”.

    posted on June 6, 2012 at 7:07 am
  63. guitarboy says:

    Prince does what all of us wish we could do: play phenomenally well and make tons of money doing it. He’s disciplined, talented, and amazing on the guitar. He’s also an expert at marketing, just like Gene Simmons of KISS. Long may he play!

    posted on June 6, 2012 at 11:29 am
  64. nikolaos says:

    I am glad to see that Prince is getting recognition for his guitar playing, very underrated player. It is also refreshing to see that he does not have a single “boutique” pedal on his board.

    posted on June 8, 2012 at 5:06 am
  65. Jean-François says:

    I had never heard of Prince until I heard 1999 on the radio. I was 11.

    I started learning to play the guitar at 13, and I think that’s when the Purple Rain album and movie were released. When I heard the solo at the end of “Let’s Go Crazy”... man! That,s when I realized how great a guitarist he was. I really liked doing the kinds of sudden slides and stabs and that kind of stuff (my guitar teacher, a classically trained player, didn’t like it, though).

    Other guys at my highschool, in Québec, would listen to stuff like Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne and all that late-70’s and early 80’s metal. Their guitar heroes were players like Randy Rhoads, David Murray, Adrian Smith, but I was way into Prince and Eddie Van Halen.

    I’m glad His Highness gets the recognition he deserves!


    posted on August 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm
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  80. G says:

    He likes Boss petals and stomp boxes because they are durable as he has been known to destroy others. Also, he learned george harrisons song (at dani’s request) the day of the performance and he broke a string while playing it…....yes u can compare him 2 jimi (dirty sound), but if u really listen, he has more of a Santana sound (melodic).  and, he is still himself….trust me. eye know…............welcome 2 the dawn.

    posted on October 8, 2012 at 10:55 am

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