Play like Carlos Santana

Guitarists tend to either love Carlos Santana's playing or loathe it. It's probably because his is such a stylised way of playing that it brims with personal traits that make you grin or have you wincing.

Using anything from a thin, nasal tone to one that's fat and distorted, Carlos' playing uses common positions on the neck, favouring both pentatonics and more scale-based ideas. Long sustained notes have also been typical of Santana's playing over the years.

In this swinging A minor blues, we keep to fairly simple phrases that are typical of Carlos. It's all quite high up on the neck, so your fingering will need to be clean. Also, if you use as much as you should to be authentic, take care with extraneous finger noise.

Santana's gear

In Santana's early recording days he used Gibson Les Paul or SG guitars through 1 x 12-inch Boogie combos with a half-cocked wahwah. This gave a lot of sustain by the standards of the day, but now you'll find him piling on the distortion courtesy PRS guitars and Dumble Super Overdrive amps.

Our audio uses a Les Paul Standard direct into a PC using IK Media's Amplitube software on a highly overdriven sound, with a touch of reverb adding smoothness to the tone.

Click 'see all pictures' in the picture box for full-sized tab.

Audio - Full track

Audio - Just the licks

Audio - Playalong