How Many Musical Instruments Did Prince Play?

Prince performed all vocal lines and played all 27 instruments in his first album, “For You.”

It’s highly impressive, though quite a few of these were the same families of instruments (guitars, basses, keyboards/synths, drums/percussion), many of which were just different models of these classes of instruments. This probably explains why many non-musicians would look at the instrument listing and say, “I have no idea what half of these instruments are!”

Here is the instrument listing from Prince’s first album. He played ALL of these and sang every vocal line:

“electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, bass synth, singing bass, fuzz bass, electric piano, acoustic piano, Minimoog, Polymoog, ARP String Ensemble, ARP Pro Soloist, Oberheim Four Voice, clavinet, drums, syndrums, water drums, slapsticks, bongos, congas, finger cymbals, wind chimes, orchestral bells, woodblocks, brush trap, tree bell, hand claps, and finger snaps.”

Of course, Prince was an absolute genius! The amount of creativity, vision, and songwriting and arrangement skills it would take to create such an album is, of course, absolutely amazing.

Although Prince was gifted at playing many different instruments, I think it’s better to approach his music from the quality of his playing rather than the quantity of instruments he used.

For example, if we’re going to go off sheer numbers in the same manner, a regular percussionist might play 20 instruments!

Let’s break these up a bit into their categories of instruments.

Guitars

  • Electric Guitar
  • Acoustic Guitar

Piano/Keyboard/Synths

  • Bass synth
  • Electric piano
  • Acoustic piano
  • Minimoog
  • Polymoog
  • ARP String Ensemble
  • ARP Pro Soloist
  • Oberheim Four-Voice
  • Clavinet

Basses

  • Bass
  • Fuzz bass

Drums/Percussion

  • Drums
  • Syndrums
  • Water drums
  • Slapsticks
  • Bongos
  • Congas
  • Finger cymbals
  • Wind chimes
  • Orchestral bells
  • Brush trap
  • Tree bell
  • Hand claps
  • Finger snaps

Summary

Prince was an absolutely gifted musician who had amazing skills and talent at many different instruments.

We hope this article has shed some light and helped you understand exactly what instruments he played and what went into his amazing creative works.

Prince Image by: jimieye from flickr.com – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimieye/, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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