Music, Arts & Entertainment

Guitars, Amps and Sustain

Carlos Santana

Lesson time 13:04 min

Take a tour through Carlos’s guitars and amps, and learn how he gets his famous sustain onstage.

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

Topics include: Hone Your Instrument • Carlos's Guitars • Carlos's Amps • Getting the Famous Sustain • Adding the Wah-Wah


It matters to have good equipment if you want to take it to the next level. Like if you're, like, a great violin player and somehow you're able to afford and get a hold of a Stradivarius, then people are going to go, whoa, I never heard you sound like that before. Because this Stradivarius took my sound to a whole other level. You have to work on you first. You are the main instrument, and then everything else that you get will sound good. But I've seen cases where people had the best equipment but they don't know what to do with it. They don't know how to put their heart in it, you know? That gave me an advantage because I had a rinky-dink, ugly amplifier, but I could beat him up because they didn't even know what to do with those amplifiers. So again, it's a lesson of this. Learn to work on you, you know. Learn to slow it down, take a deep breath, and from the center of your heart make this phrase true and real and honest, sincere. Genuine, honest, sincere, true, for real, authentic, all of those things go in that note again, you know-- genuine, honest, sincere, true, for real, and authentic. Ooh, it's a lot of things to remember. Well, then just tell the truth when you play. [MUSIC PLAYING] The relationship with Gibson and Santana in the beginning was there because I didn't know how to strangle a Stratocaster and get something pretty out of it. And so when I said Jimi and Eric and-- I was like, ooh. You know, it seems like they have to play really, really, really, really loud in order to sustain because Stratocasters, the pickups are not as easy to sustain unless you have a foot pedal, tube screamer, or something. So you have to play real loud. I didn't want to play that loud, so I use humbucking pickups. The SG, the one in Woodstock, that one is not here because it wouldn't stay in tune. The neck was-- the neck was-- when I said that when I was on acid it felt like it was a snake instead of a guitar neck, it was an electric snake, and I was correct because the neck was going like this, so it wouldn't stay in tune. So I had to make ugly faces to make it stay in tune, you know? And when I looked at it I said, oh, you know-- so after a while I said to the band, hey, you know, I need a new guitar. This guitar won't stay in tune. They go, eh, you know, you just want a new guitar. So at that time we were just beginning, so we were very democratic, and I had to get permission from the whole band to get a new guitar kind of thing. Silly me. So anyway, I said, look man, this guitar won;t stay in tune. They're like, eh, you just want a new guitar. And I says, well, look, man, I'm going to get me a new guitar. They say, well, no man. You know it's like. So I grabbed the guitar and I went like this, splash against this brick wall, and it went like toothpicks, "pshh". And I said, I need a new guitar, man. And the new guitar, after the SG met her demise, I went and got me a brand-new Les Paul, single cut. Neil Schon and ...

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.

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Carlos Santana

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

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