Prince is one of the most influential guitarists ever. With styles ranging from techno-pop to straight up face-melting lead solos, over the years, Prince has demonstrated his almost inhuman abilities to play guitar. Prince is also comfortable with manipulating his guitar's sound with electronics. The art of using guitar pedal effects is also an ability that has not been wasted on Prince. Among his favourite pedals are those made by the Boss company.
Boss Turbo Distortion and Turbo Overdrive
The Boss turbo distortion overdrive pedal is Prince's most versatile pedal. It has a slightly British sounding old-school distortion that is heavy on the bass end. This type of pedal is good throughout the frequency range, and provides Prince with a solid sustain in lead soloing. With a tap by his left foot, Prince moves from crunchy accompaniment to overdriving lead that accentuates mid-range tone. By activating the turbo-overdrive pedal, Prince achieves that old school lead sound often associated with the guitar gods of the '70s, like Richie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Eric Clapton of Cream. With Prince's penchant for mixing up his styles, he can also crank the Boss turbo up with the turbo overdrive on full to get the heavy metal sound associated with modern bands like Disturbed, Rob Zombie and the late Kurt Cobain.
Boss BF-2 Flanger and VB-2 Rare Vibrato
The Boss Flanger pedal is an effect created by mixing two guitar signals together with one of the signals having a slight delay. This creates a harmonic blend of the signal that is pleasing to the ear as it wavers and sweeps up and down the frequency spectrum. Prince used this effect on songs similar to "Purple Rain," and "Colonized Mind," to get a haunting space-age cascading effect. For Prince's retro sound on songs like his cover song, "Crimson and Clover," Prince used the VB-2 rare vibrato pedal. This gives the guitar a wavering in-and-out flowing sound similar to what Jimi Hendrix used for his 1968 cover of "The Star Spangled Banner."
The OC-2 Octaver is another of Prince's lead solo pedals. The Octaver doubles the range of the guitar note being played by adding another guitar tone an octave above the one that is being played. It's good for single notes only but in the hands of a guitarist like Prince, the Octaver can add bass and sustain to lead solos. For an example of the OC-2 Octaver sound, see Prince's opening lead solo on "When Doves Cry."