Mastering the Pentatonic Carlos Santana

Article 2 – Carlos Santana – blend Dorian

The Pentatonic Scale is the holy grail for guitarists. It’s easy to play and it sounds amazing. This series will show you how to get the most out of our favourite scale, and how making small modifications will get you sounding like the pros and their signature sound.

Mastering the Pentatonic Article 2 - Carlos Santana; blend Dorian

In this article we will look at how Carlos Santana adds two notes to the pentatonic to create the latin-blues mix he is known for. Below is the A minor pentatonic scale.

Mastering the Pentatonic Carlos Santana
A minor pentatonic scale

A minor pentatonic scale

The two notes we need to add are the 2nd (B) and a major 6th (F#). Our scale now looks like this (see right).

the Dorian mode

the Dorian mode

These new notes create semitones within our pentatonic scale. This interval is key in sounding like Santana. If you were to add these two notes in both octaves of the pentatonic you would now be playing the Dorian mode, but more on that later!

We will now look at song examples where Santana strides between the pentatonic and Dorian:

Oye Como Va” Intro melody:

The song is in the key of A minor, hence our use of a minor scale. The melody ascends, making full use of the 2nd (B), before falling back to the tonic note. Syncopated (off-beat) notes also give this lick a latin flavour.

Oye Como Va

“Oye Como Va” Main melody:

Here Santana uses the 6th (F#) on the 7th fret of the B string. He mixes this dorian lick with a classic blues motif in the second bar.

OYE COMO VA MAIN MELODY

“Evil Ways” Solo: (transposed to Am)

A quintessential Satana lick; starting on the “and” of beat 1 gives the lick a real syncopated feel. The first bar is strict Dorian, followed by a classic blues lick in bar 2.

Evil Ways Solo

“Samba Pa Ti” Main melody:

One of Santana’s most famous instrumentals. The following three licks are all taken from the opening section. Here we introduce a new Santana technique of grace notes. These quick notes add another latin flavour. Lick 1 is the opening melody, lick 2 its response, and lick 3 is a turnaround used to get back to chord I.

“Samba Pa Ti” Main melody

Article 2 – Santana

Mastering the Pentatonic

Article 1 – Eric Clapton; add a major 3rd

The Pentatonic Scale is the holy grail for guitarists. It’s easy to play and it sounds amazing. This series will show you how to get the most out of our favourite scale, and how making small modifications will get you sounding like the pros and their signature sound.

Mastering the Pentatonic

Mastering the Pentatonic

 

Lick 1

A key ingredient to Clapton’s sound is blending the major and minor pentatonic. This can be most clearly heard the solo of Cream’s Robert Johnson cover “Crossroads”. The key notes we need to add are themajor 3rd and the 6th (see right), although I would recommend learning box 1 of the major pentatonic in its entirety.

Eric Clapton; add a major 3rd

 

major 3rd and the 6th

“Crossroads” Lick examples

This lick starts with a hammer on from theminor 3rd to the major 3rd. Not only a quintessential Clapton move, but a very bluesy sound also. We also have a half bend between these two notes in bar 2.

 

Crossroads Lick examples 1

This example utilises the 6th at fret 7 of the B string. This lick is almost split into major pentatonic in the first bar and then minor pentatonic in the second bar. Add vibrato to the C crotchet in bar 2 and pull off the semi quavers.

Clapton Phrasing:

Clapton loves groups of three. This stye of lick can be heard in the guitar ad-libs at the end of “Bad Love”. Use hammer and pulls offs when playing the triplet on the B string

 

Clapton Guitar Solos

Clapton Articulation:

Clapton’s solo playing is full of string bending, both huge full tone bends and subtle smaller bends. With the full bends, I would always recommend having multiple fingers push the string (1st and 2nd behind the 3rd finger that bends the note). The half bend on the 5th fret of the G string can be achieved with just your 1st finger. Listen to“Cocaine” to hear this in action.

CLAPTON ARTICULATION

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