Want to learn how to play guitar like Carlos Santana?

Want to learn to play guitar like fusion pioneer Carlos Santana? Learning his style will be “Smooth” with the Carlos Santana Player study from Fret Zealot.

This course covers Santana’s signature style, including legato style, playing pentatonic scales and the Dorian mode, and utilizing speed changes.


Carlos Augusto Santana Alves is a ten-time GRAMMY award-winning guitarist who is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – but his first instrument was the violin. Santana, who was born in Jalisco, Mexico, was taught violin at age five and guitar at age eight by his father, who was a mariachi musician.

Santana was influenced as a child by blues artists like B.B. King and Gábor Szabó, as well as Chicano rock pioneer Ritchie Valens. In the 1950s, he joined bands playing along the Tijuana Strip and developed his sound as a guitarist. After moving with his family to San Francisco in 1961 – which was the birthplace of the burgeoning psychedelic movement – Santana started the Santana Blues Band. Playing a unique blend of Latin-infused rock, African rhythms, salsa, jazz, and blues, the band quickly grew a following in the Golden City. After being signed to Columbia Records, the band performed at the iconic 1969 Woodstock Music Festival – before their debut album was even released.


"Carlos Santana" by badosa is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Santana has had a decades-spanning career, and his signature tone and playing style has evolved over the years. Some features of his playing that have held over time include his use of long, sustained notes sans vibrato, trademark trills, and unique sense of timing – he often plays riffs that are rhythmically complex.

Awards and legacy 

Santana has won multiple music awards, including the Billboard Lifetime Achievement and Spirit of Hope awards, two GRAMMY awards and a Latin GRAMMY award for Person of the Year (2004), Kennedy Center Honors, a NAACP image award, and many others. Along with his former wife Deborah King, he co-founded the Milagro Foundation, which supports children who lack resources in arts, education, and health. 



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