THE CLOUD GUITAR FAQ

With thanx to Scotty2Funky Q: What's the story behind the Cloud Guitar?
A: It was originally built in 1983 by David Husain, luthier at Knut Koupee music store in Minneapolis. The design is based on a bass guitar Prince used in the video for "Why you Wanna Treat me so bad." (A Bass version of the guitar was on display at the NPG in Minneapolis). Although only four were originally patented (These have been resprayed to suit his cosmetic needs.) there have been variations including a Blue model with "Batsign" inlays on the neck. The Cloud was first seen and played an important part in the movie Purple Rain. (This info and more found @ The Artist on Guitar)

Q: Which luthiers build replica's?
A: In the Netherlands, these guys. Also: Scott Anderson.

Q: Where can I see a real Cloud like the ones played by Prince?
A: At the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in washington, D.C. and at the Hard Rock café in Bejing.

Scotty2Funky adds:
The Hard Rock Cloud's aren't actually 'Prince' played guitars. During the Diamonds & Pearls era several Yellow Clouds were built to be sold at the Minneapolis & London NPG shops. These were built by Prince’s guitar tech at the time and each one was numbered. The came with a certificate of authenticity. At the same time several Blue Clouds were given out to various Hard Rock Café’s around the world (as were some Yellow ones). London has a blue one on display. These guitars are easy to recognise as the bridge pickup is further away from the bridge than on Prince’s guitars. The yellow clouds have black symbol fret markers and the blue ones have sterling silver symbol fret markers. Q: And where can I buy one?
A: Try Sotheby's if you have 5-7000 dollars lying around. Otherwise, you can get a Schecter replica for 1500 dollars from Prince's website .

Q: Where can I hear/see Prince play a Cloud?
A: The Movies Purple Rain (white) and Sign 'O the Times (Peach), the Livesexy video's (blue and white), the Prince and the Revolution Live video (white), the Rave unto the year 2000 and Live at the Alladin Las Vegas DVD's ((blue) and the video's to Peach (yellow), Gett Off (yellow) U Got The Look (peach) and Batdance (blue).

Q: Where can I find a miniature Cloud guitar?
A: Here.

Q: How can I build my own Cloud guitar?
A: Here's a detailed guide.

Q: What are the specs for the original Clouds?
A: This guitar features all maple construction and has a thru-neck. It is built using Gibson’s 24.75” scale length and has 22 medium/jumbo frets with a 12” radius on the fretboard. This guitar is equipped with EMG active pickups (an 81 humbucker at the bridge and an SA single coil in the neck position) and Schaller hardware – a tunomatic style ‘457’ bridge/tailpiece and M6 machine heads. It has one volume control, one tone control and a 3-way switch. The whole guitar is finished in two-pack paint (including the fretboard) and is equipped with Jim Dunlop strap locks and a brass nut. The truss rod cover is also made from brass. All hardware is gold plated. Q: What's the difference between the original Clouds played by Prince and the ones for sale at www.npgmc.com?
A: These are made by Schecter, (not handmade), have a bolt-on neck and different pickups. Also, the original Clouds have Love Symbol-shaped (or in one instance: batman-logo shaped) fretmarkers. The NPGMC models have regular dots. Schecter says: "The Prince "Cloud" guitars (and the "Symbol" guitar, as well) are made under an exclusive agreement with Prince and Paisley Park, and are only available through Prince's website and at his live shows. We do not offer them in any form anywhere else, and, per our agreement, will not use any of their features in the construction of other guitars!"

Scotty2Funky adds: Recently you could buy a copy of the Cloud from NPG Music Club (Prince’s official site). These are made by the Korean wing of American guitar company Shecter under the ‘Diamond Series’ label. Two versions were available – one with a thru-neck and the other with a bolt-on neck. They feature Duncan Design pickups and Grover machine heads. The bridge is, I believe, made by Gotoh. These guitars were available in metallic white and metallic blue. They are currently fetching high prices on the auction sites although practically every one seems to have the same fault. The paint wears away very easily along the top edge of the fretboard. Many guitars were even shipped in this condition.

Later Shecter Clouds also vary from the original as they feature Fender’s 25.5” scale rather than the shorter 24.75” scale. They are also missing the brass nut & truss rod cover

Q: Who else plays a Cloud guitar besides Prince?
A: The singer (who knows his name) plays one on the DVD Kool and the Gang - Live From The House of Blues.

Q: I want a free Cloud! Where can I get one?
A: If you're a u.s. citizen and the competition's not over yet, you can win one here.

Q: What the hell is this (or other stuff like it found at sites like E-bay?
A: We're not sure, but it's probably just a production-line Cloud by Schecter bundled with some other, unrelated Prince memorabilia.

Q: How many guitars does Prince have?
A: Here's the full list of guitars he's been seen with as compiled by the members of prince.org.

Clouds:
*White Cloud – Purple Rain era – Destroyed at the last Revolution gig. Features ‘spade’ symbol fret markers.
*Black Cloud #1 – Parade era – This guitar was the only one to have a natural finished maple fretboard (not painted). Later became the ‘Batman’ guitar (see below).
*Peach Cloud – Sign O’ The Times era – Given away as a prize and not seen since. This Cloud had small black dot markers.
*Blue Cloud – Lovesexy Era – Commonly known as the ‘Blue Angel’. Also featured small black dot markers.
*Black Cloud #2 – Batman era – All black with bat symbol fret markers.
*Yellow Cloud – Diamond and Pearls era.
Blue Cloud #2 – Rave era – This guitar has gold plated knobs rather than the black plastic ‘mini JB’ knobs found on earlier guitars. It also has a rounded profile to the body.
Love Symbol shaped guitars:

*White
*Black
*Yellow
*Gold
*Orange
*Purple
We've heard the clouds and symbol are often repainted so there may actually be less of them!

Scotty 2 Funky adds:
The Symbol guitar was originally built by German luthier Jerry Auerswald. The first one was painted gold and was made from antique maple. This guitar has a neck-thru construction with 24 frets. It uses the 24.75” scale length and has the same EMG pickups as the Cloud guitar. Jerry made the bridge for this guitar himself as he makes his own hardware. Again, this guitar is equipped with Schaller M6 machine heads with custom-made tuning buttons.

There were two copies of the Symbol guitar made by one of Prince’s guitar technicians. One was white and the other was black. These were made from mahogany and didn’t last too long! Prince has a nasty habit of throwing his guitar way up in the air and letting them crash onto the stage. If you look closely at pictures of the white Symbol you can see that the lower horn has been snapped off and glued back on. The part of the guitar is very delicate – especially when made from mahogany (a short-grained wood).

Subsequent symbol guitars – namely the purple ‘Habibi’ models were built by the American wing of Shecter Guitar Research. There are two versions – the most recent one having a Floyd Rose vibrato system. This is a first for a Prince guitar. Prince’s guitar tech, Takumi, told me that he stripped down the Auerswald Symbol and sent all the measurements to Shecter. These are the guitars that Prince currently uses on stage. Shecter have also made a gold version of the Symbol guitar.

*Hohner telecaster imitation.
This is one of Prince's most famous and loved guitars. The one Prince plays is a Hohner TE, an all-maple imitation of a Fender Telecaster, although we've heard that the "tiger" look of the guitar actually was based on a design by a British luthier. The guitar was featured heavily in the movie Purple Rain and on the Purple Rain tour. Hohner responded by reissuing the by then discontinued model as "The Prince." Prince's management reportedly threatened action and the guitar was later reissued once again as the Hohner TE Prinz, with a heavy metal-like headstock. The quality is said to have declined with each remake, but all models are highly sought after.

*Fake Hohner which squirts water
*Les Paul jr covered with fake fur
*Lake Placid Blue Blue Stratocaster
*Dark Blue Tele with flowers painted on it
*Ibanez jazz model signed by George Benson
*Black and white Auerswald Model C guitars with sustain bow.
Scotty2Funky adds:
The striking Model ‘C’ guitar was made by German luthier Jerry Auerswald. It is one of his ‘stock’ models. Prince first started playing this guitar publicly in 1988. The main feature of this guitar is the ‘sustain bow’. This not only adds sustain but also gives the neck added stability. The Model ‘C’ is essentially a headless guitar as the tuning machines are an integral part of the bridge. The strings clamp just behind the nut at the bottom end of the neck.

EMG pickups are fitted to this guitar – once again the SA single coil and the 81 humbucker. Prince used to refer to this guitar as his ‘rock’ guitar, a mantle now passed over to the Symbol. All other hardware is Auerswald’s own. As with the Cloud and Symbol guitars, this is a thru-necked guitar and is painted all over, including the fretboard.

*Acoustic with heart on it (SOTT film)
*a white strat circa the first album
*a fender tele made to look a bit like the Hohner (may be the water squirting thing)
* Gold top Les Paul Junior in the "Dinner with Delores"video
*A translucent guitar

Q: What strings, effects etc. does Prince use?
A: We know Prince uses HR Highbeam strings. The gauge is subject for discussion, anything from .8 tot .11 has been mentioned. He probably uses light to medium, regular shape picks. His current amps are Mesa Heartbreaker Guitar Amps with 4x12 and 2x12 Cabinets. As for effects, Prince seems to own almost the entire Boss range of pedals, including Turbo Distortion, Octave, Delay, Flanger, Chorus and Blues Driver. He also uses a Digitech Whammy pedal, a Zoom effects unit and a wah-wah. Prince sprays his strings with Finger Ease string lubricant.

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