If you want to know more about Prince’s Telecaster, you’ve come to the right post!
The Prince’s Telecaster
Although we mostly remember Prince as a pop star and a singer, he was also a highly-skilled guitar player. And just like most guitar players, he had his preferred guitar model.
Now, for the most part, Prince preferred Telecasters. Of course, among these were some Fenders. However, the most famous one was the Hohner Madcat model, which is a Tele-style guitar.
Going Down the Rabbit Hole
The instrument model technically has two names. Firstly, it could be called a Hohner copy of Fender Telecaster. The other name is H.S. Anderson Madcat. But you may also find other names for it like Morris or Morris Hurricane. So what’s the deal here?
Hohner, or Hohner Musikinstrumente GmbH & Co. KG is an old German instrument brand. They started selling electric guitars sometime in the 1950s. H.S. Anderson, on the other hand, was a relatively smaller brand of electric guitars, started by Toshio Moridaira in Japan. Moridaira founded his guitar factory called Morris, which manufactured these instruments. In the late 1960s, they started selling Japanese-made guitars for the US market. After achieving success with the Madcat Tele-style in the early 1970s, Moridaira sold H.S. Anderson rights to Hohner.
And that’s when Hohner started making their Madcat Tele. Although the design was the same, the guitars had a Hohner brand logo on them.
However, the production didn’t last very long. The model was a complete rip-off of Fender’s Telecaster. Not long after starting, the whole idea was abandoned. So these guitars are pretty rare. In fact, the story goes that there are only 500 of these old early-1970s Hohner and H.S. Anderson Madcat guitars. So they’re highly valued by collectors.
When Prince became a superstar, H.S. Anderson revived the model. And the brand was, to my knowledge, still under the Hohner ownership.
The story here gets a bit murky. There’s proof of later variants made by H.S. Anderson. These had different headstocks to avoid legal troubles with Fender. There are records of variants from the 1980s and the H.S. Anderson brand reissued them in the 2010s as well. But this is a whole different rabbit hole that’s better left for a different article.
At the same time, these later 1980s Madcasts also didn’t have the quality of those old original models from the 1970s. Bill Lawrence had a similar Madcat, although these were reportedly better. Finally, H.S. Anderson made The Artist and The Artist Elite variants for later reissues.
Prince’s Madcat Telecaster
Prince was one of the lucky few to get their hands on a Hohner Madcat Tele model. However, it’s hard to point out when he actually got it. Some sources claim that it was in 1980, while others say that it was in 1983. What some have pointed out is that the serial number is, allegedly, 217791. This would mean that the guitar was made back in 1977.
But things get complicated again. After all, it’s Prince who we’re talking about. Now, there’s his original old Madcat. Over the years, he had different recreations of these guitars made for him. Additionally, it is believed that he has at least one more of the Hohner H.S. Anderson original Madcats.
Guitar builder Roger Sadowsky has made two completely identical replicas of the original guitar. All the details are there, including the finish and all the other visual details. He also had a few other copies done, although these weren’t exact replicas but rather restyled models.
Some Known Specs
These original Madcat Telecasters reportedly had maple tops, walnut center, and Japanese sen sides. Some sources, however, also claim that the sides were from ash. Along with this came a regular maple neck with a maple fingerboard.
The bridge on this Tele was a hardtail one. Its design is very similar to regular Fender 6- saddle hardtail bridges. There was the classic pickup configuration, two single-coil pickups. Along with that came your regular Telecaster-style control plate. There was a 3-way switch, a volume knob, and a tone knob.
But what Prince cared about were the looks. The pickguard’s color pattern could be difficult to describe. While some would call it tortoiseshell, it had some serious leopard fur vibes. This came in handy for Prince as he loved to wear fake fur for his shows. In fact, many say that he cared more about the looks rather than the tone and functionality.
The pickups, however, are a whole different story. In the earlier days, Prince used the stock Hohner pickups. Reportedly, this lasted for a relatively long time. After that, he had Fender’s Vintage Noiseless pickups. And after that came Kinman Traditional single-coils. There’s reportedly another feature in there, an additional single-coil hidden under the pickguard.
I cannot confirm this. But it makes sense if he wanted to have a noiseless operation, a jangly tone, and still keep the regular Telecaster looks. Furthermore, there are reports of the original Madcat being fitted with an internal wireless unit. He allegedly had this added to the guitar for the “Purple Rain” tour.
The Mysteries Surrounding Prince and His Guitars
The short of it is that Prince was a secretive person. He rarely ever spoke about his instruments or most of the other stuff that people wanted to know about him. Therefore, it’s really difficult to confirm most of the information here with 100% certainty.
The current whereabouts of his original Madcat Tele are unknown. But I would bet that it’s safely stored in his Paisley Park vault in Minnesota. And that’s probably the case for some of his other Madcat replicas.
Takumi Suetsugu, Prince’s longtime guitar tech, shared a few occasional words about this Tele. One thing that he noted was that this was one of the best Telecasters that he ever played.
The original Madcat was reportedly used on the famous 2004 performance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. After ending the solo for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Prince threw the instrument from the stage. Takumi caught it and, as instructed by Prince, he gave the instrument to Oprah Winfrey. While some may believe that the guitar is still in her possession, she likely gave it back to Prince. But, again, it’s not something that I can confirm.
What I can say for sure is that this is one hell of a guitar. And, most importantly, Takumi Suetsugu took great care of it, making it one of Prince’s most important tools.
- Legendary Guitars
- Ultimate Guitar
- Ed’s Guitar Lounge
- One of the Greatest Mysteries Surrounding Prince Has Been Solved
- Madcats & Clouds
Prince’s Telecaster: Conclusion
I hope this article has cleared up some of the mystery surrounding Prince’s Telecaster!
And if you want to read more about famous guitarists on this blog, then check out:
- All About the Amp Created by John Deacon
- A Simple Guide to Korn Tuning
- Sweet Child O’ Mine Amp Settings
Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you know any more about this mysterious topic!