Monday, October 17, 2011

Carlos Santana's Yamaha SG2000

The Guitarist

Carlos Santana is a Mexican-American rock guitarist who became well-known in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana, which pioneered rock, salsa and jazz fusion. Santana was born in Jalisco, Mexico, on July 20, 1947.

The band's sound featured his melodic, blues-based guitar lines set against Latin and African rhythms featuring percussion instruments such as timbales and congas not generally heard in rock music. Santana continued to work in these forms over the following decades. He experienced a resurgence of popularity and critical acclaim in the late 1990s.

In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine listed Santana at number 15 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He has won 10 Grammy Awards and 3 Latin Grammy Awards.

The Guitar

Since the late 60’s, Santana had been playing different guitars and searching for the right tone for his music. He’d been seen performing with a Gibson Les Paul Standard, Les Paul Custom and a Gibson SG.

By 1975, Yamaha had introduced their SG175, and had contacted Carlos Santana regarding playing that model. However, Santana's first reaction was that the guitar was too light, that the frets were too thin, and that it just wasn't delivering the sustain he was looking for. Luckily for both parties, Yamaha took his comments to heart.

Eventually, the two developed the SG2000. This model incorporated a neck-through-body design (instead of the neck being bolted onto the body, it is one solid piece of wood that runs from the headstock to the tailpiece). A mahogany body delivered the weight, which led to greater sustain and a fatter tone. And strips of mahogany flanking the neck (called the "T-Cross System”) were also incorporated.

The hardware was converted to brass, which purportedly added to the sustain as well (the ability of brass hardware to enhance tone has been debated by artists for the last 30 years). In addition, a "Sustain Plate" was added: a brass plate that sat underneath the tailpiece.

The tone of Carlos Santana's Yamaha SG guitar can be heard on a number of landmark recordings, one of the most notable being 1977's Moonflower. From that record came the studio version of "She's Not There," along with live versions of "Dance Sister Dance (Baila Mi Hermana)," "Let the Children Play / Jugando," and "Europa," all of which blew away the previously released studio versions. Some of Santana's straight-ahead rock hits, like "Open Invitation" and "All I Ever Wanted" were also recorded on the SG2000.

Carlos continued to use the Yamaha until the early '80s, both in concert and on albums including Inner Secrets, Marathon, Zebop!, and Shango. By 1982 he had migrated totally to Paul Reed Smith guitars, which he continues to play to this day. However, his years' playing the Yamaha SG guitar were pivotal in his development of the smooth, round, endlessly sustaining tone which has become his trademark.

Santana’s legendary guitar, the Yamaha SG2000, is now on display at the Berlin Musical Instrument Museum.

For your viewing pleasure here is Santana performing the classic “Black Magic Woman” live in 1977. He played his then-recently acquired signature Yamaha SG2000 in this performance. Watch and feel the magic!



  1. I have a '78 Yamaha SG2000 because of Carlos

  2. That's awesome, Jude. :) I also have a Yamaha guitar but a different model.

  3. Never saw him play that one. The SG2000 he actually used a lot live at least was antural wood colour with a different inlay. like on this page: