We’ve seen several owned and played Prince electric guitars go up for auction recently, including a Paisley Park Cloud guitar, a Blue Angel Cloud model and a gold-leaf Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster.
Now, auction Gardiner Houlgate, which also sold the Paisley Park guitar, has another Prince axe on the block, and this time it’s an acoustic – a Fender Gemini II that was used on the recording of the 1991’s Diamonds and Pearls album.
According to Sylvia Massy, the official engineer for the Diamonds and Pearls sessions, the Gemini II was employed throughout the entire album but is particularly prominent on the track Walk Don't Walk.
The vendors selling the Gemini acquired the guitar directly from Massy.
In a declaration of provenance that accompanies the acoustic they wrote that “one of our favorite aspects of the guitar is the clearly visible strum marks on the pick guard.
"We found these amazing and overwhelming to look at, as they are a clear visual imprint of music history that Prince left on this guitar. We would listen to the album and know that what we could hear was Prince leaving those very marks that we had in front of our eyes.”
Massey went into the history of Prince’s relationship with the Gemini II in a 2010 interview with Mix Online.
“In anticipation of engineering a particular Prince date, I once brought extra guitars to the studio – one of them being my cheap little Fender Gemini II acoustic," she said.
"I was a bit embarrassed for it against the row of polished, tuned and beautifully tweaked rental guitars on the session, so I stuck my Gemini II in the corner out of sight. It was untuned, had old strings and no stand. I knew that whatever instrument Prince reached for had to be tuned, plugged in and ready to record, or he was outta there.”
She continued, “It would figure that Prince pulled out that damn Gemini II. I was horrified. I imagined him throwing it down on the floor and storming out of the studio because it was not properly prepared for him. Instead, I was shocked to witness Prince playing flawless rhythm and even solo parts, bending the individual strings to the right pitch as he fretted chords effortlessly. He compensated with his fingers to bring the instrument in tune and the guitar sang like it had a fresh set of strings.
“That acoustic sounded great on the track Walk Don’t Walk. It did just what it’s best for – keeping an even percussive rhythm throughout the song. Prince used the Gemini II on several other songs, and at the end of the sessions he casually directed his crew to pack the guitar up into one of his road cases.
"I don’t think he realized it was mine and assumed the rental company would just charge him for it. I noticed what Prince was doing, and said, ‘Excuse me, you can buy one of your own for $200; they aren’t that expensive.’ He smiled at me, and said, ‘But I want this one.’ ”
Massey went on to state that the dreadnought-shaped Fender Gemini II “is really nothing special, or so I thought. Prince had a thing for that guitar. You’ll hear it on the Diamonds and Pearls album. Originally manufactured in Korea in the late ’80s, the guitar features a mahogany back and spruce top. It’s a budget guitar – dry sounding, very woody. Not sparkling, not shimmering, more like a chugging. Just a very plain acoustic.”
The “very plain acoustic” will be auctioned by Gardiner Houlgate on March 10. It is set with an estimate of £40,000 – £80,000 (approx. $54,785 – $109,570).
For more information, head to gear-auctions.co.uk.