Monday, September 26, 2011
Prince's MadCat Hohner Telecaster
Prince Nelson Rogers, more popular known as Prince, emerged as one of the top acts in the pop music heap during the early 1980’s. And His Royal Badness has been on it ever since, selling around 80 million albums worldwide and cementing his status as one of the all-time greats.
He’s an astounding multi-instrumentalist who can play several different wind, string and percussion instruments. There was also a time when he recorded all tracks on his album by himself! While Prince was primarily recognized for his talents in songwriting, musical prodigy and knack for producing hit songs, he was likewise notoriously famous for his eccentric behavior. After all, who else would rename himself as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince? Actually, his weird behavior has enough grounds to cover a separate article, but let’s not get sidetracked by this for now.
What is commonly overlooked by the casual listening public is his surprising capacity as a rhythm and lead guitar player. Once Prince puts on his guitar player cap, he delivers with the same six-stringed passion and virtuosity as his idols, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Johnny Watson.
The main guitar Prince uses is his MadCat guitar, a Hohner telecaster knock-off, which he started using around 1983. It has a natural-wood finish with a maple fretboard/neck and leopard skin pickguard, with chrome hardware. The guitar has 2 single-coil pickups and a fixed bridge.
After years of using the stock Hohner Tele pickups, Prince eventually replaced the stock pickups with Kinman pickups. Now here’s another story that displayed his eccentricity. When the Kinman pickups ordered by Prince’s guitar tech arrived, it came with white covers. Rather than buying black covers, Prince instead instructed him to color the covers black with a black Magic Marker. Can you believe that?
His Royal Badness had several of these Hohner Telecasters eventually. It was a testament of his fondness for this guitar despite the fact that Hohner guitars were generally considered as cheap alternatives to more well-known brands such as Fender and Gibson.
Here's a jam session where Prince was playing his Hohner Tele with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne jamming “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” during the posthumous induction of George Harrison to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, of which Prince himself was a co-inductee. Prince made his guitar weep in the latter part of the song, starting at the 3:28 mark. Watch the video and see for yourself!