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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.

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


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...

Find the heart of your sound

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.


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

Simply awesome, great insight into the music making machine that Carlos Santana is known for.

Life lesson with guitar as the conduit, amazing!

I've learned tangible guitar techniques (chords and scales) as well as general music advice. I've also learned some first-hand history from Carlos' life. I am very pleased.

Really liked Carlos Santana before, love him now. Great class.



Watching Carlos play over the frets is's like his hand is just floating freely above the fretboard, and his fingers are just directing the sound and feelings of each note where to fall, kind of like "The Force..."

Tatiana V.

This is better than the lessons I take, I've been learning more than I'd learn in five -and this is day one!!!!😊😊😊

Gary M.

This man is liquid smooth butter spread on the worlds biscuit with some extra Jam and some honey and its all love .

Ashley H.

I am enjoying this MasterClass so much. I love how he takes the technical out of the lesson and just talks about the spirit. This dude is too cool.

Gabriel P.

I think one of the biggest things that have been a struggle is that I take from blues artists and metal artists. I want the spirit of Santana, The phrasing of Buddy Guy, and The speed of Synyster Gates. That's just to name a few of my influences. And doing Jazz guitar has helped me build a lot of speed and pull a lot of rhythms from different genres. This lesson has helped me with finding my voice through my influences and it shows a lot in my guitar playing now. This is one of the best lessons I've experienced

A fellow student

bEING YOURSELF. How to find yourself without drugs. Maturity doesn't have to be a 4 letter word. But it has been because some of us didn't know any better some of us didn't want to know any better and Some of us thought we knew better while still a lot of us knew we didn't know better but did it anyway. so we were rock stars who never knew the solo pattern to Louie Louie


a lot of people have a problem being themselves. even musicians and preachers


Carlos My question is Are you saying that what's already in you cancels out the need to ask other musicians "what they thpught of how you sound? (I'm not asking about the need a person has to know from others how they sound since they are not fishing for compliments nor want to be thought of that way. Kamp

Steve E.

Wow, learning so much. As in my writing classes which advise us to find our voice. music tells us to find our sound. And I believe they are both within us already as Carlos says. Each of us is an expression of the universe and part of the whole thing, yet we've individuals too. And I believe finding yourself, your voice, your music is tapping into that basic individuality that is uniquely us. It's deep, but it's what we're meant to do, why we're here. Each discipline if we follow it is a path towards this center where our true self dwells and from which we express with the most conviction...

A fellow student

I was thinking of removing myself from the course because i am not advanced in guitar playing. I play major chords using top 3 frets in an acoustic instrument. But then i realized, no, i want to learn music and; it coming from me from a master, Carlos is that teacher. i'm glad i decided right. Thanks.