Monday, September 26, 2011

Prince's MadCat Hohner Telecaster

The Guitarist

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 Guitar

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.
The MadCat Hohner Telecaster is identified to be his primary guitar during live performances and recording sessions in the studio. It’s distinctive, funky rhythm tone has been present in several of his recordings.

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!


39 comments:

  1. The most memorable event I have found and definitely the legendary.
    Bridget@ Guitar Strings

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  2. Prince is probably the most famous lead/rhythm guitarist of the last 30 years........how is it surprising?!"

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  3. The pick guard is faux tortoise shell

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    1. No its a faux leopard print, hence the name MADCAT

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    2. Regardless of the name, on this particular guitar it's definitely hawksbill turtle shell (faux or not).

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  4. The story I heard was that the guitar was a gift from his Mom,never understood why an artist that professed to being the next Jimi Hendrix didn't play a Fender Strat?

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    1. Prince never professed to being the next Jim Hendrix. He said the only reason people associate him with Hendrix is because he's black. He, on several occasions, said he drew most of his guitar playing influence from Santana. Just listen to his licks and solos and you'll hear the difference.

      The only things similar between Hendrix and Prince is the color of their skin, their use of the whammy bar to sound like a roaring motor and their musical genius.

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    2. Prince's main workhorse was a Fender Strat with ESP pickups. Go and watch the Prince at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2009 on YouTube.

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    3. Thats not even close to accurate.

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    4. Fender Strat is wrong as well...

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    5. You may also be surprised to find out that in the studio many of Jimi Hendrix biggest hit songs such as purple haze were recorded on a telecaster!

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  5. The story I heard was that the guitar was a gift from his Mom,never understood why an artist that professed to being the next Jimi Hendrix didn't play a Fender Strat?

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    1. In what way did Prince "profess" to being the next Hendrix? (A clip of him saying "I am the next Jimi Hendrix" would suffice.)

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  6. The second one Prince bought came from Purdom's music in Lagrange Illinois. That guitar can be identified by not having its toggle switch tip.

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  7. The second one Prince bought came from Purdom's music in Lagrange Illinois. That guitar can be identified by not having its toggle switch tip.

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    1. This guitar actually belonged to my dad. Prince's management contacted him looking for one. My dad worked at the guitar store, was struggling for money so he sold Him his personal guitar.

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  8. As my cyclist friends say to me, it's not the price of the bike - it's the legs.

    Eric, I can trace back this guitar even further than 1983. Look up Prince's Jan 20, 1982 concert at Passaic, New Jersey's belated Capitol Theater on YouTube. It's in B&W, but it's the one.

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  10. Prince owned a couple of original Hohners (at least two) but the guitars he plays now are built by luthiers. It’s a known fact that he ordered three exact replicas from luthier Roger Sadowsky. Exact copies, even the Hohner logo’s are correct. He often appeared to throw one into the crowd(but really he threw it to a roadie).The original one he bought was made by a guy called HS Anderson who Hohner bought them from. There were only very few made as they were threatened with a lawsuit by Fender for copying the headstock, which is why all the later Madcat models have a different headstock. I bought a Hohner 'Prinz' model. It was the first decent guitar I owned.

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    1. Nice to see you can steal material and repost it, posing as an expert... http://edsguitarlounge.com/wordpress/?page_id=401

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    2. I was thinking the same thing. The dead give away is that HS Anderson is not a guy. It's the Japanese company that made the guitar.

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    3. He bought the first one from Purdom's pickstop in Lagrange Il. I used to play it daily after HS

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    4. Your whole reply is full of crap. You took everything you said from someone else, and if you're even telling the truth about owning the Hohner Prinz model, than you don't know much about guitars. "The first decent guitar I owned". The Prinz reissues by Hohner were, and are, known for being cheap badly made guitar .

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  11. Prince was an incredible talent, smoking guitar player, and from what I am reading also a great humanitarian. He will be missed. Rest in peace.

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  12. His name is Prince rogers nelson FFS

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  13. I used to play that guitar daily at Purdoms

    I WANT IT BACK!!!!!!!

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  14. He used the guitar during the recording of Dirty Mind and is using it in Uptown the video which was recorded in mid 1980..... he also used it extensively during the fire it up tour with Rick James (early 1980) - so how did you get a start date of 1983?

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  15. Folks...just got home from a guided tour of Paisley Park. As told by those who should know, Prince purchased the original Hohner for $30 from out of guy's trunk at a gas station on his way to a gig. The "true" Hohner is on display in Paisley Park. The guitar has lots of wear on it. The guitar is not perfect in looks but yet his favorite and very valuable. For live shows Prince had many exact replicas made by Luthiers that included headstock shape and logo. These replicas were possible as there was an agreement with H.S. Anderson. He did the same for the famous Cloud guitar. The Hohner is on display in a glass case and you can get less than two feet from it.

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  16. SquareNupe Thanks for reporting back from PP. I've wondered about the "true" Hohner and am glad to know that it is in Prince's home. I have a crush on that Hohner. Too me, it's more iconic than the cloud guitar and love symbol guitar. Before Purple Rain I remember seeing him with it in photos and tv. Prince seemed very loyal to it.

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  17. That guitar is more iconic than the Cloud or the love Symbol#2. He played it from Controversy to diamonds and Pearls and periodically after that

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  18. Hi. The famous hohner guitar was purchased in LaGrange IL at Purdom's Pick Stop circa 1983. Prince was in town to do a show in Chicago and stopped there in a large purple limo and naught the guitar. The Hohner was one of two the store had; one cherru red and the other Prince purchased. The list asking price was 800.00. The guitar tech and salesman was named Bill. A local newspaper wrote about Prince being happy with his purchase... the store kept the article hanging in the front. The article had a shot of Prince doing the stinky face while playing. The article also included that he purchased the guitar at Purdom's. The guitar was/is very special off the factory line perfect intonation. And has a very sweet bright sound. I know this because I played it before it was sold. I had to remove my belt, and wear a cloth to prevent any scratches. The store (Bill) did many mods on my instruments over the years until they closed. Long live Prince

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    1. OMG, thank you for that! I'm such a huge fam of Prince, since I was 4! I love hearing these behind the scenes/ "origin stories" about him๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ

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  19. Bought... not naught, sorry.

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