After nearly two decades of playing Paul Reed Smith guitars and three versions of his Santana Guitar models (Santana SE guitars aside), Carlos — along with Paul Reed Smith, of course! — has developed a Santana Signature model which combines some of the best features of all the previous models. Plus some cool new additions.
Santana MD: Guitar of Many Tones
The “MD” designation in the model stands for “Multi-Dimensional,” and is a reference to the fact that the Santana MD can achieve a variety of tones. This quality makes it an ideal instrument for guitarists who want to produce a number of different sounds from the same guitar.
A large part of this “multidimensionality” resides in the electronic circuit. Besides the standard Santana Guitar Volume and Tone knobs, and 3-way pickup selector switch, it includes a mini-toggle that delivers a Strat-like ’60s tone — possibly by putting one or both of the pickups out of phase. The new function is called a “Mastering Voice Control.”
Something Old, Something New . . .
In keeping with the “best of all possible worlds” theme, the PRS Santana MD guitar includes classic features from previous Santana guitars, like the traditional “Santana wide fat” neck shape, Rosewood fretboard, and Mahogany body with carved flame Maple top and Abalone Purfling. An upgraded “10 Top” is available for a $500 fee (retail).
However, there are changes as well. Most notably, the positions of the controls have been altered. While the 3-way pickup selector switch and Tone knob are still roughly between the tailpiece and the bridge, the Volume knob has been shifted to a position right next to the bridge pickup. This makes it easier to control the volume while playing, which Santana likes to do. The new mini-toggle is in between the two knobs.
Even the famed Abalone bird-shaped inlays on the fretboard have gotten a facelift: instead of being solid as on previous Santana guitar models, they’re outlined.
Santana Guitar Journey
This latest foray into Santana Signature models is allegedly the result of a two-year process of refinement carried on by Carlos Santana and Paul Reed Smith. Part of the inspiration was the Stratocaster that Santana used on a Smokey Robinson album — and fell in love with.
Amazingly, the Santana MD is one of the lower-priced in the line, with a street price of about $3700. Considering the features and sheer physical beauty of the instrument, that’s quite a feat.
Is this the final in the amazing series of Paul Reed Smith Santana Signature guitars? Only time will tell. But it certainly is a proud moment for these two men who have labored so hard to produce magic from a few pieces of wood and metal.