What is about Santana that makes his guitar lines so memorable? Millions of players pick up the instruments every day, but there’s only one Carlos Santana. Just a few notes into any solo, and you can tell it’s him. Here are some of the factors that give him his unique sound.
Broad look at the elements that contribute to Carlos Santana’s unique guitar tone and flavor, from the equipment he uses, to the techniques he’s developed over his multi-decade career.
More detailed analysis of some of the specific ways in which Santana approaches his guitar playing, from the famous Santana sustain known the world round, to the way he infuses his traditional pentatonic scales (blues runs) with a trademark Latin twist.
Learn how Carlos used different guitars and amps over the years, and how this affected his sound for certain albums. See how he developed the sophisticated equipment setup he uses now, through decades of trial and error.
For more than 30 years, Santana has been using Paul Reed Smith guitars nearly exclusively. You can see here how that relationship began, and grew, culminating in a series of PRS Santana Signature models, shown below.
PRS Santana I
PRS Santana II
PRS Santana III
PRS Santana MD
25th Anniversary Santana
PRS Santana SE
PRS Santana SE II
Carlos Santana SE One Abraxas
PRS SE Santana
Want to compare the specs on all the models? Just use this handy chart that lays it all out, from pickup types to neck radius, fretboard material and inlays to electronics configuration.
Before PRS, Carlos Santana spent several years playing the SG models from Yamaha. A critical part of developing his tone, they took him to the next step in his sonic quest.
Just as important as PRS guitars to Santana’s sound are the famous Mesa Boogie Mark I amps. But Carlos didn’t just discover them — he literally formed a great part of the impetus for their invention! In the process, he helped to develop not just his own sound, but the types of sounds used by hundreds of thousands of guitarists all over the world.
In conjunction with his quest for superior tone, Santana recently joined forces with the GHS String company to offer a line of Signature Santana strings. These unusual-sized, “big core” guitar strings are a reflection of Santana’s willingness to address the smallest details in his pursuit of the ultimate sound.