Carlos Santana Explains Why He Left Gibson for PRS Guitars, Believes He Saved the Company With Advice He Gave Paul Reed Smith


i think he still uses a 1968 gibson les paul custom to record with. it's a guitar he really favors from what i read in an interview maybe 8-10 yrs ago. he still could use other gibsons of his to record too. and yeah, he'll use prs's to record. why not. live it's been all prs for decades for the most part. i'm a fan and like how his tones have evolved. it's ok his thoughts can be somewhere out there.........that may be where his inspirations come from :munch


I'm somewhat confused about this. First that's a pic of Santana from Woodstock. Second Santana stopped using Gibson and started using the Yamaha SG-175 which he helped design around 1975 till around 1982 when he switched to PRS.

So Santana is confused (old age maybe?) He left Yamaha for PRS.
From the Ultimate Santana site

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 should have stuck with the Yamaha SG2000!



Tone is Paramount
Silver Supporting Member
I know that Howard Leese and Santana were among the first few guitars ever played from PRS. But for Santana to say that he saved the company might be a stretch...

My own personal preference on Santana's sounds was his SG. He sounded perfect at Woodstock. Much more to my liking than his current setup. But of course, that's all just opinion anyway.
And I read his amp was a backlined Twin Reverb!

Gig Young

The Diana Nyad of Guitar
Gold Supporting Member
Maybe the impetus for less expensive PRS models came bc of the financial crisis of 2008.

That's been my take on it for sev yrs.


Low Voltage
I don't listen to his music often, I don't own PRS guitars and "smooth" is possibly my mother's favorite song of all time. That being said I always love the energy he puts out in his interviews. I'll never forget one I read as a teen where he said something like "pucker up your butt and hit that note" and listening to your "internal radio"... wisdom!


Maybe he saved them?
IMO David Grissom helped them sound better.
Whoever had the idea for the S2 line deserved a big bonus.


Interesting; I wish I knew. I almost forgot about his Yamaha years.

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Apparently you’ve got something in common with Carlos. . . I wonder if he left on bad terms. Seems odd to just leave out almost a decade, including some of his biggest hits.

In a slightly different vein, I was shocked a few years back to learn his net worth was four million. Seems like an order of magnitude low for someone of his stature. Dude’s a legend.

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