It is no secret that Prince was a musical genius, but what is lesser known is just how many instruments the icon could play. Though he is commonly associated with the guitar, Prince was also an accomplished pianist, drummer, and bass player. In total, Prince could play 27 different instruments.
His mastery of many instruments resulted from his innate talent and hard work. Prince was a true innovator who pushed the boundaries of music. His unique style and incredible skills have inspired musicians all over the world. How did he become so talented? Let’s take a closer look at the life and work of this musical legend.
Who is Prince?
Prince was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, musician, and actor. With a career spanning four decades, he was known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, extravagant fashion sense and use of makeup, and wide vocal range.
He was considered a guitar virtuoso and skilled at playing the drums, bass, and keyboards. Prince collaborated with other artists throughout his career, including Sheila E., the Time, Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Kim Basinger, Judith Hill, and Billy Joel.
His birth name is Prince Rogers Nelson, born on June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His parents were African American, and his father was a pianist and songwriter. Prince began playing the piano at age seven and guitar at 13. He signed his first record contract with Warner Bros. Records at 18.
Aside from piano, guitar, bass, and drums, he played multiple instruments on his debut album, For You (1978). The album credited him for playing over 20 instruments. Prince was a true pioneer in the music world, and his influence is still felt today.
The 27 Musical Equipment Played by Prince
Although half of the instruments were from the same family, Prince played at least six different types of instruments during his musical career. They were:
- Acoustic guitar
- Electric guitar
- Acoustic piano
- Electric piano
- ARP string ensemble
- ARP Odyssey
- Moog Satellite
- Oberheim four-voice
- Fuzz bass
- Water drums
- Finger cymbals
- Wind chimes
- Orchestral bells
- Bush trap
- Finger snaps
- Hand claps
- Tree bell
Of these, an essential instrument to Prince was the electric guitar. He was a virtuoso on the instrument, and it featured prominently in his music. He also played multiple other instruments on stage and in the studio, often switching between them mid-song.
Prince’s Favorite Musical Instruments
Hohner Madcat Telecaster, The Cloud Guitar, and Oberheim OB-8 Synthesizer were his go-to instruments when creating new music.
The Hohner Madcat Telecaster
Source: Guitar Cloud
The Hohner Madcat Telecaster was one of Prince’s favorite instruments. He often played a signature leopard print guitar during his live performances. Prince was known for his innovative and experimental style of music, and the Madcat Telecaster helped him to bring his unique sound to life. The Madcat Telecaster is no longer in production, but remains an iconic guitar associated with Prince.
The Cloud Guitar
Soure: Guitar Cloud
The Cloud guitar was Prince’s favorite instrument from 1984 to 1993 and 1998 to 2000. It was custom-built for Prince by Dave Rusan and became known as Prince’s signature guitar. Prince had multiple copies of the Cloud guitar made, and it was his preferred guitar for live performances.
The Cloud guitar gets its name from Prince’s suit in the Raspberry Beret video and the Around The World In A Day record cover, where Prince can be seen playing the guitar.
Oberheim OB-8 Synthesizer
Soure: Guitar Cloud
The Oberheim OB-8 is a polyphonic analog synthesizer that Prince heavily used during his career. The instrument was featured prominently on his album Purple Rain and was Prince’s last Oberheim.
The OB-8 was known for its thick, rich sound and ability to create complex textures. Prince utilized the OB-8’s unique capabilities to develop his signature sound. The instrument was an integral part of Prince’s musical identity and helped to define his sound.
Prince’s Devotion to Musical Instruments
Prince was known for his love of musical instruments, often personalizing them to match his style. He was particularly fond of the electric guitar and even had a signature model by Fender; he was also very particular about the colors he would use on them. For example, he once had a purple guitar explicitly made for him. Prince was also known to wear matching colors when performing on stage. This showed his dedication.
Prince was a successful musician because of his incredible talent and hard work. His unique style made him stand out from other artists, and his dedication to his craft earned him the respect of fans and peers.
Prince’s work ethic and natural talent made him one of the most successful musicians. Even though he is no longer with us, his legacy will continue to live on through his music.
Can Prince Play Every Instrument?
No, Prince cannot play every instrument. The instruments that he could play include the guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards.
Is Prince a Guitar God?
No, Prince is not a guitar god. He is otherwise known as a guitar virtuoso. However, he is an incredible guitarist and has influenced many guitarists. He is also known for his innovative and experimental approach to the instrument.
What Was Prince’s First Instrument?
Prince began playing the piano at age seven and took up the guitar at 13. He started his musical career in the Minneapolis clubs as a lead guitarist in several different bands before forming his band, Grand Central.
What Instruments Did Prince Play on the For You Album?
Prince played various instruments on the album For You, including guitar, drums, keyboard, and bass. He also sang lead vocals and wrote all of the songs on the album.
What Was the Prince’s Main Instrument?
The guitar was the Prince’s primary instrument. He was a highly skilled guitar player and often used it to create his unique sound. He played other instruments, such as the piano and drums, but the guitar was always his primary focus.