Guitar skills: (opens in new tab) Prolific songwriter, visionary and a gifted musician on numerous instruments, but it was electric guitar (opens in new tab) where Prince soared as high as his vocal register. He was simply one of the greatest players to ever pick up the instrument, bringing a producer and songwriter ear to his parts and sounds that will continue to resonate through the ages. He was also quite a chordsman.
Here's just four examples of his use of voicings to enhance much-loved songs from his catalogue. Including one of the most iconic opening guitar chords of all time…
There are many ways of playing an E9, but this particular voicing is instantly recognisable as the opening chord from Kiss. The intervallic structure from low to high is: b7, 9, 5 and the root note is on the highest string. Mute the 5th and 6th string with your thumb over the top of the neck, so you can strum the chord without the open strings ringing out.
This funky F chord features in 1999 and is a variation on the regular F7, root 5th string shape. Use your 1st finger to barre across the 8th fret and your 4th finger to barre across strings 1 and 2. Keep your thumb in the middle of the back of the neck to keep your wrist and hand relaxed with this stretch.
This lush, chord kicks off Purple Rain and is an inversion of a Bb add9, with the major 3rd of the chord in the bass, then the root, 9 and 5th on the highest 3 strings; all creating an iconic sound which instantly evokes Prince’s most loved anthem.
The 7#9 chord is a staple of funk music and although this chord is more commonly played at the 12th fret root, in the ‘Hendrix’ shape, the Sexy MF guitar part occasionally hits a 5th interval on top, which is achieved up at the 17th fret, making for a cool and useful variation on the sound.