The legendary guitarist keeps things simple with his signature PRS guitar, a few pedals, and some lustworthy amps.

On April 23, 2014, Premier Guitar met with Carlos Santana’s guitar tech, Ed Adair, before a show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Adair walked us through Santana’s collection of custom PRS guitars, a Pete Cornish- and Teese-stocked pedalboard, and a collection of holy grail amps.

Guitars

Santana tours with a rack full of his signature PRS models. Although he has a lot of backups, Santana tends to play the same guitar all night. At the moment, “Salmon” and “Son of Salmon” are in heavy rotation. According to Adair, each guitar has a few modifications: “The locking saddles are the third generation of a design that Paul Reed Smith and his team came up with. Paul had a design drawing within a few days and we had them installed on the ‘Salmon’ a short time after.” When Santana wants to bust out some old-school Spanish guitar, he goes to his Jazz Electric Nylon model built by luthier Toru Nittono.

Amps

After being retired from use for some time, Santana’s original, snakeskin-covered 100-watt Mesa/Boogie is back onstage with the master. Santana also plays through a pair of Dumble Overdrive Reverbs and a pair of Bludotone Universal Tone heads—one of which is a prototype. The amps drive a pair of paisley-covered PRS 4x12 cabs. One cab is loaded with four Celestion Vintage 30s, the other sports two Celestion Vintage 30s and two Celestion G12-65s.

Effects

Santana’s pedalboard is about as minimal as it gets. He starts with a 50' Canare GS-6 cable with Switchcraft and Neutrik connectors. This runs into a Pete Cornish LD1 line driver and then a Real McCoy Custom RMC4 Wah Pedal made by Geoffrey Teese. From there, the signal goes into a Pete Cornish AC Powered 3 Way Signal Splitter/Mute. The splitter works in conjunction with two custom 2X Amp Selector rack units made by John Suhr. Also in the rack, next to the Peterson Strobe Tuner, is a TC Electronic D-Two delay, which runs through the effects loops of the two Bludotone heads.

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Rig Rundown: Adam Shoenfeld

Whether in the studio or on solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything he’s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown,” since 2005. Plus, he’s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.

Advanced

Beginner

• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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