Carlos Santana - 5 Tips For Electric Latin Guitar Soloing

Author: Mike P Hayes  

Anyone who has tried to play lead guitar in the style of Carlos Santana will know how difficult it is to duplicate. I am not referring to copying a Santana solo from a TAB sheet, we're talking about understanding how Carlos creates his powerful solos.

Santana's powerful solos are a blend of interesting harmonic textures mixed with traditional earthy scales. Of course, there's a lot more to Carlos Santana's music than scales and chords, Carlos is a very definite guitarist, every note he plays is packed with energy and emotion.

Guitarist's trying to learn Santana's guitar solos often encounter notes and chords outside the standard guitar resource material of minor pentatonic scale plus power chord combination.

Here's 5 tips to help guitarist's grasp the concepts behind Santana's music.

1. Learn the Harmonic Minor scale .

Guitarist's who already know the natural minor scale can easily create the Harmonic minor scale by sharpening the seventh note of the natural minor scale.

Let's use the "A" natural minor scale as an example.

The notes in the "A" natural minor are as follows: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A.

By sharpening the G we create the "A" harmonic minor scale: A, B, C, D, E, F, G#, A.

The natural minor scale is also known as the Aeolian mode.

2. Study chords produced from the Harmonic minor scale.

As the name implies the Harmonic minor scale produces as interesting family of rich sounding chords.

The following chords are created from the "A" harmonic minor scale.

chord 1 = A minor (#7), chord 2 = B minor 7th flat 5, chord 3 = C major 7th sharp 5, chord 4 = D minor 7th, chord 5 = E dominant 7th, chord 6 = F major 7th, chord 7 = G sharp diminished 7th.

The "A" minor (#7) chord is also known as a minor/major seventh chord e.g., Am (MAJ7).

The B minor 7th flat 5 chord is also known as a B half diminished chord.

3. Play the standard Harmonic minor chord progressions.

The most common chord progressions are the 2-5-1, 1-4-5, 1-6-2-5, 1-6-4-5 and 1-6-5 progressions.

The following examples are given in the key of A harmonic minor, notice how the preference is for a straight minor chord for chord one instead of a minor sharpened seventh.

2-5-1 = B minor seventh flat 5, E dominant seventh, A minor./ 1-4-5 = A minor, D minor seventh, E dominant seventh. /1-6-2-5 = A minor, F major seventh, B minor seventh flat 5, E dominant 
seventh. / 1-6-4-5 = A minor, F major seventh, D minor seventh,E dominant seventh. / 1-6-5 = A minor, F major seventh, E dominant seventh.

4. Blues scale played over Harmonic minor chord progressions:

Obviously the harmonic minor scale will work well over the chord progressions created from that scale. Santana often plays the blues scale over the harmonic minor chord progressions.

Here is an example, the "A" blues scale consisting of the notes A,C,D,Eb,E,G can be played over a B minor seventh flat 5, E dominant seventh and A minor chords progression.

5. Let to play the Dorian Mode:

A number of popular Santana tunes are based on the Dorian mode. The song "Evil Ways" is in "G" Dorian the notes for G Dorian are: G,A,Bb,C,D,E,F,G. Whilst the tune "Black Magic Woman" is derived 
from the "D" Dorian mode: D,E,F,G,A,B,C,D.

Learning new scales and chords can be very interesting, it is vitally important to be able to "hear" these new sounds, record the chord progressions and pay close attention to how each chord sounds so you can recognize them when you hear them new time.

The Santana style of playing can add a new dimension to your guitar playing and improve your ability to play guitar by ear, take your time and enjoy these interesting sounds.
Mike Hayes develops systems and products to help you succeed in your guitar playing. Find out more about how to learn guitar fast with his popular free ecourse, available at: =>

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