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Michael Johnson >> Santana style >>
Lesson Subject: Santana Style
What you learn: Licks & Scales
Teacher: Michael Johnson

Michael: This interactive lesson is on the style of Carlos Santana, Mr. Santana's guitar sound has been said to be one of the most recognizable in rock matched only to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page ....  Carlos uses a very unique blend or rock, blues & Latin music and uses the Dorian mode for most of his solos. Notice the lesson sample and how it uses all of these components:

Unison Bend 2

Michael: Our progression and scale will be in the A Dorian mode, here's the scale pattern.

Michael: The only difference between the A Minor (Aeolian) and the Dorian is the 6th note of the scale (F), here's the jam track we'll use over the upcoming licks:

Jam Track 1

Michael: Practice the scale over this file a few times. Here's our first lick:

Lick 1

Michael: This is a common type lick Carlos would use, notice it starts on the upper position of the Dorian mode, based on the 10th fret. You start with your first finger on the 2nd string and jump to the 1st string and then you bend that string.

Michael: Then you move to the higher position and finally play a common unison bend lick he often uses, a "Unison Bend" looks basically like this.

Unison Bend 1

The open G string is sounding after I bend the B string. How can I stop that?

Michael: I use my 3rd finger to mute the string above it, I'll send a picture.

Michael: Notice how the 3rd finger digs underneath the 3rd string, that forces the string not to ring out, what you're basically doing with the unison bend is you play the "A" on the 1st string (E), and bend the 2nd string (B) up to match the A on that string. The note is doubled giving a fuller tone. Now you can play these notes one at a time as well, here's an example:

Unison Bend 2

DGnew: Tell me something... the jam is in the key of Am right? and this lick is a pentatonic. . no??

Michael:  Yes, I should have pointed that out, you can, but you can use several scales to change the sound of you solo, they each share common notes. Example: A Minor Scale and A Minor Pentatonic:

Michael: Here's how they layer, A minor has A, B, C, D, E, F ,G - A Minor Pentatonic has A, C, D, E, G, so you remove the 2nd and 6th note. The same goes for the A Dorian, only it has an F# instead of the F in the A Minor scale. OK, now you can take the Unison Bend technique and ascend the scale pattern as well on the 1st string.

Unison Bend Run 1

DGnew: So... just one more question: which are the common notes that Santana add to the pentatonic scale?

Michael: Santana will use the A Minor Pentatonic, the A Minor Blues and the A Dorian mode mostly. Here's both the two patterns.

Michael: Here's the second version of the unison bend:

Unison Bend Run 2

Michael: You have to get use to shifting your hand up on the last unison bend and matching the notes as they ascend. Here's our next lick.

Lick 2

Michael: Notice the trill run descending the scale pattern on the 1st string E, Carlos uses trill quite a bit. The lick then shifts to the unison bend based on the 5th fret and then ends using the notes of the Dorian on the 1st string. The trills and unison bends are signature to the Carlos sound. The next lick uses several of the techniques I showed earlier, Dorian mode, unison bend up the 1st string, the unison bend on the 12th fret (unison bend 2).

Lick 3

Michael: See how they all fit together, you can also take the same scale pattern and use a hammer/pull-off lick ascending the pattern as well.

Lick 4

Michael: I really like the last run, OK, here's the last lick, this uses a combination of all the licks I sent earlier, but different:

Lick 5

Michael: So as you can see there are very specific techniques you can use to achieve the Santana sound, remember to use
1. The Minor Pentatonic and Dorian mode
2. Unison bends and trills

Michael: Knowing these techniques will allow you to figure out Santana songs on your own.

sr: I'll work on it.

Michael: Great, see you next lesson!

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