One of the more, ahem, normal guitars played by Prince was what looked like a custom Fender Telecaster. It was actually originally made by H.S. Anderson. Who? We’ll hand over to Dany Meeuwissen of Belgium-based distributor Amptec to explain...
“In 1973, the H.S. Anderson brand was launched by [famed Japanese guitar factory] Moridaira, and one of the employees, Mr Shiino Hidesato (HS), designed what would become an iconic guitar, the Mad Cat.
“While most Japanese companies in the 70s produced copies of famous USA models, the Mad Cat was unique. The body construction was based around a walnut centre strip, with Sen ash sides and tiger maple top and bottom.
"The hardware and pickups were not what people would normally associate with a Tele-type guitar but more similar to a hardtail Strat-style guitar, and the unique leopard-style pickguards further distinguished the Mad Cat.
The Strat-style bridge has bent steel saddles from Callaham USA, but alternative Gotoh block saddles are included, which “give a bit more sustain with slightly less harmonic content”
The inlaid logo gives a very 70s vibe. Tuners are Gotoh; note the dual string trees and bone nut. It has a full C neck shape, 648mm scale with a 240mm (9.4-inch) radius and vintage-size frets - a very nice player
This walnut centre strip is flanked by ash wings faced with lightly figured, black-bound maple
“The 1984 pickups, though noisy, sound fantastic. We asked Heartbreaker Pickups in Belgium to clone them, without the noise,” says Amptec’s Dany Meeuwissen. Both use Alnico II magnets; the bridge’s DCR is 6.85k; the neck is 5.67k
Not a Tele-style bridge, but still through-strung - the strings anchor in these flush ferrules
“A little over 500 Mad Cats were made during the 70s, including a small batch made OEM for Hohner USA with a Hohner logo in the H.S. Anderson style.
"Prince discovered one of these rare guitars early on in his career and used it live and on countless records. Original vintage 70s Mad Cats are very rare and hard-to-find guitars.”
Well, at least you can now get a new one. Musicstreet in the UK has taken delivery of this latest vintage reissue Mad Cat MkII, which is still made in Japan by Moridaira (a MkI version appeared back in 2012) and is closely based on an original Mad Cat from 1984.
Details aside, of course, it feels very much like a good new Tele - the all-over gloss finish distinctive with its deep amber colour. It certainly moves into its own territory, sound-wise, with less bright edge from the bridge, which, like the neck, is more Strat than Tele.
We have a four-way lever switch, too, which, aside from the usual combinations, gives both pickups in series - the biggest sound on the guitar. A vibrant and sparkling- sounding guitar that centres on some superb clean funk voices and is no slouch with old-school gain. No wonder Prince liked ’em.