Potent Pairings: How to Sound Like Prince

Disclaimer: Our Potent Pairing series aims to get you in the ballpark of the sounds on your favorite recordings using affordable, accessible pedals. The pedals featured are not the exact pieces of gear used on the recordings.

At just seven years old, Prince wrote his first song. A mere decade later, he would sign a record deal with Warner Bros. Records and release his debut album, For You, a couple of years later in 1978. His 1979 follow-up album, Prince, was his first record to go platinum, but certainly not his last.

Between solo releases and releases with Prince And The Revolution and The New Power Generation, a total of 16 of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's albums have gone platinum—some, more than once. The seminal Purple Rain, for example, has reached the one-million-albums-sold certification 13 times since its initial release in 1984.

Complementary to his eclectic and flamboyant style is his genre-bending music, in which you can hear elements of funk, pop, rock, R&B, soul, psychedelia, and even new wave. A lot of the tunes covered in the video above feature multiple guitar parts, and to approximate those tones (and a few bass tones as well), Joe relied on a lengthy list stompboxes belonging to almost every classification.

Classics like the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver and MXR M-291 Dyna Comp Mini made multiple appearances, as did Fender's Marine Layer Reverb and the Philosopher's Tone Germanium Gold Micro by Pigtronix. For solos, Joe generally plugged into a smooth overdrive with a lot of sustain, and for mimicking Prince's synth parts, Joe got creative with the Synth9 from Electro-Harmonix.

Be sure to check out the full video above to watch Joe recreate Prince hits like "Purple Rain," "Let's Go Crazy," "I Wanna Be Your Lover," and more. If you like what you saw, click on any of the pedal links in the list below to pick up your own right here on Reverb.

Pedals Used In This Video
"Let's Go Crazy"

Guitar 1
Guitar 2
Bass
Solo

"I Wanna Be Your Lover"

Guitar 1
Guitar 2
Guitar 3

"When Doves Cry"

Opening Riff

"Bambi"

Guitar 1
Solo

"Kiss"

Guitar 1
Solo

"Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?"

Opening Riff
Guitar 2
Solo

"Purple Rain"

Guitar 1
Solo
Mimic Synth Strings

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