One of the surprising things GP/Frets editor Jimmy Leslie discovered while interviewing Carlos Santana for Guitar Player's September 2016 cover story on the making of Santana IV is that the long-time PRS player sidelined his signature PRS models for much of the album.
"I used a PRS guitar for 'Sueños,'" Santana told GP, "but with all due respect to my brother and great friend, Paul Reed Smith, I recorded everything else on Santana IV with a gnarly, funky Stratocaster that I found in Chicago. I wanted claws and fangs, and the Stratocaster is incredible for that. I’ll eventually do another album with the sound I’ve been using for many years that’s like a warm, smooth hug, but, recently, something inside me wants to be divinely vicious."
A few years back, a Stratocaster also factored into the Santana sound, and the story of how that came to be is a corker...
"I did play one whole concert at Madison Square Garden in ’05 or ’06 using only a Strat and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s 007 Dumble amplifier," said Santana. "That’s another story. Stevie Ray kept coming into my dreams, and he said, 'Carlos, I miss the feeling of my fingers touching the guitar, and hearing that sound coming out of the Dumble’s speaker. Tell my brother to lend you the amplifier so you can play it, and I can feel you.' So I called Jimmie Vaughan, and he said, 'No way in hell will I lend you the amplifier.' I told him that it was no problem. I was just doing what his brother told me to do in a dream. But then, René Martinez—my friend who was Stevie’s main guitar tech and is now with John Mayer—said, 'Carlos, I had the same dream when I was in Hawaii! Stevie told me to tell Jimmie to lend you the amplifier.' The next thing I know, Jimmie calls and say I can pick up the amplifier. That’s my life. The intangible is very tangible to me. People accuse me of being crazy, and I always say, 'My craziness is working. How is your sanity working for you?'"
See Video on the Making of Santana IV