Prince was without a doubt one of the most influential musicians of our time. He left us early and his premature departure was felt all around the world.
His music touched many hearts over a span of several decades, and it is hard to even anticipate when an artist of his caliber will appear again, or if they will appear at all.
In the wake of his passing, we are left with his legacy that consists of legendary songs like ‘Purple Rain’ and other. However, we are also left with the legacy of his sound.
Prince had a very specific and unique tone. It made his music easily recognizable no matter where you hear it. Sure, his voice was a huge part of that signature sound, but so was his equipment.
Today we are going to look at the Prince guitar rig, and what kind of setup he used the most. With this knowledge you will be at least able to recreate some of the features that were unique to this legend, which is probably the best way to keep the memory of Prince alive.
Prince was the kind of guitar player that didn’t really wander too much when it comes his preferred equipment. Over the period of three decades, his list of gear stayed relatively the same.
He had a very specific choice of guitars and amps which he used. Let’s take a look at each category of gear in particular starting with his guitars.
There are probably only three or so guitars that we can say were the standard part of Prince’s guitar rack. If you ever went to one of his concerts, you probably remember seeing Prince wielding some pretty crazy guitars that were unique in both design and tone.
We will start the overview with one of his favorites that he loved to use. MadCat made by Hohner was a Telecaster copy made in Japan. It was originally designed by H.S. Anderson but they sold the design to the German company. What makes this guitar so unique, and why Prince loved it so much, is in the design of the guitar itself.
If you take a closer look, you will see that the bridge pickup was unusually close to the bridge itself. As a result of this position, it makes a very rich sound which is made for funk.
Next are his Cloud guitars. These unusual models were custom made by a very skilled luthier from Minneapolis. Prince was immediately attracted to these because of their unusual design. Over the year, they became a trademark of his image and his sound.
However the most impressive model in his guitar rack has to be the Love Symbol guitar. It is a custom made piece that features a crazy design. It was originally made by a German luthier, and it is probably the most unusual electric guitar in the world, even to this day. Whenever someone mentioned the Love Symbol guitar, Prince is the first thing that comes to mind.
In terms of amplifiers, Prince seemed to be most impressed with what Mesa Boogie had to offer. He was seen numerous times playing on Mesa’s Nomad while he also liked the Heartbreaker and Lonestart. The cabs he used were either Mesa Recto or Marshall’s 4×12 cabs. However, before he ever got into Mesa boogie amps, Prince rocked a Soldano SLO-100 heads.
Prince was no stranger to guitar effects pedals. We all know that. However, you might be surprised to find out that he was a big Boss fan. For example, when it comes to overdrive and distortion pedals, you could see anything from Boss BD-2 Blues
Driver to Boss MT-2 Metal Zone on his pedalboard. It’s rather odd to imagine Prince using the Metal Zone, a pedal that is most commonly associated with heavy, high gain distortion. But he had a way to make all of his effects follow the principles of his tone.
Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion was also one of his favorite. Modulation effects included models such as Boss BF-2 Flanger and Boss OC-2 Octave. His delays and reverbs were also mainly made by Boss. The Boss DD-3 Digital Delay was almost always on his pedalboard, along with other models made by this same manufacturer
One of the most prominent effects pedal that wasn’t made by Boss, but was a part of his pedalboard is the Dunlop Crybaby Wah. You could also see different effects processors in his main setup as well. Prince’s pedalboard needs to be mentioned as well. Unlike most guitar players, he chose to arrange his effects pedals in an arch. While this type of pedalboard design is not unheard of, it’s definitely not seen too often.
All in all
Prince had a very defined ideology when it came to his equipment. Everything he used served a purpose, and that was to achieve the unique sound he is known for today. As you probably figured out by now, his setup isn’t too hard to recreate for the most part.
The biggest problem would be the guitar, since he either used custom models that are borderline impossible to find, or obscure guitars that just as hard to obtain.
Prince guitar rig is definitely one of the most interesting out there, and hopefully this article helped you understand how this legendary musician sculpted the sound we all enjoy today.