To kick off our Santana course, we will look at a pentatonic based solo. This solo is based on early Santana style solos which were full of energy, attack, aggression, and of course, plenty of notes at crazy speeds! The entire solo is in the pentatonic shape 1 in G minor and this just proves how much you can get out of one shape if you are creative!
The solo above is all about being comfortable at speed! In the earlier days of Santana's long career, his fingers flew through these pentatonic shapes with ease! We, therefore, need to learn how to play quickly ourselves! However, speed is not everything here, as the licks allow a massive amount of creative license and include techniques such as bending notes up 2 tones, changing the tempo, and distorting the beat! Be sure to listen through the song at least 5 times before moving on.
Lick 1-3 essentially sound like one long lick, but in order to get something this fast under the fingers, we need to break it down into manageable chunks. The good news is that you are only using one pentatonic shape, namely shape 1 in the key of G minor. The shapes can be found in the fretboard diagrams.
Santana is famous for his legato style of playing and lick 5 is a classic go-to lick for the man himself! Don't forget about those 2 tone bends at the end of lick 5, as they really add extra magic to the solo. As for lick 4, the main thing to look out for are those slides in and out of the lick. They really add a cool vocal quality to the sound.
Lick 6 is another quick pentatonic run, which simply needs to be learnt slowly. Lick 7, however, is very open to improvisation! Essentially, you need to bend the note up to a 2 tone bend, followed by 2 bars of messing around with it! You need to gradually release the bend whilst plucking the string to hear the bend slowly return to the fretted note. This is one of those licks that you'll never play the same twice, so just memorise how long it should roughly go on for, and away you go!
The final lick is another great example of how to play around the beat a little more. This lick starts at a steady pace, cutting right across the beat, and gradually intensifies as you speed it up. This is a great way to take one little lick and get a lot out of it. It ads a massive new dynamic to the tune which is then finished off by hitting the root note of G.
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