Music, Arts & Entertainment

Finding Your Sound

Carlos Santana

Lesson time 9:42 min

What do you sound like? Learn how to combine your influences and dig inside yourself to uncover your unique voice on the guitar.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Uncover Your Twang • Combine Your Influences Into Each Note • Your Tone Is Who You Are


My father played the violin. And I didn't-- I couldn't get a sound that it was very beautiful and elegant, like-- like he did. I sounded like a whiny little cat in an alley, going [MAKING WHINY, TREMBLING NOISE WITH MOUTH] And I was like, ooh, ah, I don't like the way I sound. So I couldn't make myself sound nowhere near like my father. So I look at the guitar and I said, ooh, look at the shape of it, yeah, that's it, you know? My father heard that I was interested in music always, but he-- he wanted me to realize that all the lessons that he gave me on the violin was not going to be wasted. So he bought me a guitar. And-- and then I learned how to-- he taught me basic chords. And watching Javier Batiz in Tijuana, how he carried himself, and how he played-- he had that twang thing, the twang. BB King, Freddie King, Albert King, Michael Bloomfield, Jerry Garcia, Peter Green-- he-- he had that thing. The twang is like-- [PLAYING GUITAR SOLO WITH ABUNDANT BLUE NOTE BENDS] And they get that twang from imagining that they're playing like a slide guitar without the slide. (SINGING) I think I'm going downtown-- (SPEAKING) which is Muddy Waters, you know, but he played slide. And so those who don't play slide, they sill want to get that phrasing. So the twang is-- is something that belongs to everybody. But only a few people can-- can express it. But everybody has it, you know. So I as soon as I heard it, I said, I-- oh, wait a minute. I don't want that, I am that. I just have to keep-- keep digging in there and get it out. That's what-- what that is when you spend time in-- in the closet by yourself with the lights dark. Turn off the lights in the closet, and dig in-- dig in like-- [PLAYING GUITAR SOLO WITH ABUNDANT BLUE NOTE BENDS] And the neighbors go, (SHOUTING) hey! And I go, sounds good, huh? [GUITAR PLAYING INTRO RIFF FROM "OYE COMO VA" BY SANTANA] Learn to get your own sound. Get your own face. You already have it. You just got to let it out. You don't have to go find it. It's in you. You just have to make time to compress everything that you feel and that you know into a juicy note, and you're going to sound like you. I'm going to quote here Tony Bennett, Mr. Tony Bennett, who said, "if you take from one person, it's called stealing. If you take from many, it's called research." So I put it in the blender. I put, you know, I'll-- I'll hang with Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan, and Aretha, and Nina Simone. And I'll just play, you know, for one or two days-- just women-- and I play my guitar as close as possible to them, how they're phrasing and how they're feeling, you know. And-- and then I'll play more like Sonny Sharrock, which is like a chainsaw massacre, you know, grunge, grunge, grunge, grunge, grunge. Sonny Sharrock is-- is kind of like in between a raunchy, raunchy Jimi Hendrix and John Coltrane kind of guy. You know, it's like-- it's-- it's a very daunting sound. And there's-- there's bea...

About the Instructor

With 10 Grammys and almost 50 years on stage, Carlos Santana teaches you how to play guitar in his spiritual style. Learn how he weaves emotion, artistic expression, and musical genres from across the world to create a sound that transcends classifications and connects with audiences. Join Carlos in his studio as he breaks down his process note by note—so you can discover the soul of your sound.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana teaches you how he creates a distinct, soulful guitar sound that moves the hearts of audiences.

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