How Many Instruments Did Prince Play? Wednesday November 24 2021, 5:30 AM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
How Many Instruments Did Prince Play?

What Instruments Did Prince Play?

The prolific artist, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor was known to play over 20 instruments, and I'd like to break down each one to get a feel for how talented and driven this legend really is!

His debut studio album "For You" released in 1978, credits him for singing and playing the following instruments listed below. 

Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Bass, Fuzz bass, Singing bass, Acoustic piano, Electric piano, Poly-Moog, mini-Moog, Arp Pro Soloist, Arp string ensemble, Oberheim four-voice, drums, water drums, synth drums, clavinet, bongos, slapsticks, finger cymbals, congas, orchestral bells, wind chimes, brush trap, woodblocks, finger snaps, tree bell, and handclaps.

You may be thinking, "okay, some of those are very similar, and should you really include the handclaps"? But yes, you should definitely include the handclaps and consider each one a separate instrument.

The creativity involved in being a one-man band can call for some of the most simplistic things to still be a very vital part of the music creation process.

Many couldn't quite yet see the greatness of his artistry from his first project. "For You" actually received very polarizing reviews. AllMusic and Blender, for example, gave the project 2 stars out of 5.


Sure, they were impressed by his ability to create, but people thought this first project lacked a lot of magic and depth in his songwriting. 

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How His Playing Enhanced His Career

Prince's ability to play multiple instruments allowed him to have complete creative control over his music.

He often recorded and produced his albums entirely by himself, playing all the instruments and handling all aspects of the recording process.

His mastery of different instruments extended to both traditional and unconventional ones.

In addition to his expertise in mainstream instruments, he also played instruments like the saxophone, flute, and even the unique pedal steel guitar, showcasing his versatility and musical exploration.


Prince's live performances were legendary, partly due to his ability to seamlessly switch between instruments on stage.

He would often showcase his instrumental prowess during his concerts, captivating audiences with his dynamic performances and virtuosic skills.

Prince's talent on various instruments contributed to his innovative approach to music. He seamlessly blended different genres, such as funk, rock, pop, and R&B, in his songs, creating a distinctive sound that pushed boundaries and influenced generations of musicians.

His instrumental proficiency allowed him to experiment and incorporate different musical elements into his compositions, making him a true musical genius.

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How Many Songs Did Prince Write?

His first project was only the start of his journey, and the more Prince wrote, the better he became over time. It is estimated that he wrote at least 500 songs over the course of his career, with a large amount being unreleased or under a different name.


Prince started in his teens and dedicated himself to perfecting his craft, which many people say takes 10,000 hours.

I bet that those 500+ songs of his were what allowed him to really grow into the star he became, and I hope that these facts inspire you to go work on your 10,000 hours right now!

Did Prince Read Music?

Prince is one of those musical legends that didn't get that deep into theory and reading music, just like many other pop and rock stars.

While he didn't make reading music a core part of his process, he was very familiar with the basics of music theory since he was in a high school band known as Grand Central.

Prince was the type who liked to move fast based on inspiration when it hit and did all of his writing and arranging by ear. 

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Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

If you are in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her services page.

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