Black Magic Women - Santana

I’ve been working on Black Magic Woman, Santana’s version from Abraxas. This is an average recording. I figured I’ll find something wrong with everyone so should just go ahead and post despite hearing my mistakes already.

Comments welcome. I can tell one of my issues is timing! So pointers on that are very welcome. Using a metronome lots but beyond that??? Years of trying to play along by ear or with tab was not great for timing - I think it put me slightly behind.

Getting the volume/tone shift between rhythm sections and solos is also tricky. Any advice?

Feedback on everything else also welcome. How’s the tone? PRS Custom 24 with a Mesa Boogie MkV-35 on the IIC+ channel. A tiny bit of delay. How is the balance for bass, mid, treble, presence. I’m new to really fiddling with amps so guidance welcome. Santana seems to dance on the edge with feedback.


It is absolutely over the standard I could comment on the guitar playing. I notice you record your guitar over the original song, which makes a bit difficult to tell apart yours and ordinal, in fact, at the beginning I thought it was the delay effect. If you can find a clean backing tracks without guitar, it would sound better I believe.

I’m a beginner so can’t comment on technicality, but I thought it was pretty legit. My question is, did you have fun playing it? I do believe the answer is yes.

It was an enjoyable listen :slight_smile:

My 2 cents:

  • Probably you should focus on the solo parts at first to get them right
  • You mentioned the difficulty of switching the tone between the rhythm and lead parts. My guess (and it is really just a guess, as I don’t know your amp settings) is that the gain you are using may be a bit too high. Sometimes the sustained notes sounded to me shriller than on the recording, and when you switched to rhythm playing during the verses, I think the distortion was a bit too much.

But don’t take this as a bashing. Your playing didn’t sound alien to the original version and I think you actually had fun while recording it. Keep it up! :wink:

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Congrats on sharing a first recording, Owen

Lots of progress made, well on the way. Beyond me to offer tips on how to get closer.

If you were playing over the original with original guitar then I think it would be worth getting a backing track that excludes the guitars. I know @Kasper does tis but forget from where he sources the BTs he uses. I do recall they are not free but not a huge cost. If he checks this out he may give you some useful tips to take you forward. can configure the instruments, key and etc, and it is paid by song, and the track is downloadable. I have UltimateGuitar which can do the same, but can’t download the track.

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Is a good source, especially as you can chose a custom BT and just use the instruments you wish. These are paid for downloads but not expensive but prices differs for songs depending on popularity and maybe copyright. @Kasper I believe has used this and another which escapes me at the moment. Good quality and normally quite accurate, that’s based on experience. :sunglasses:

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Correct, recently I’ve started using BTs from karaoke-version.

Previous to that (which is most of my recordings actually) I used tracks from a site called LickLibrary.
On the LL site you can either buy BT albums with 5 tracks (matching one of their lesson products) or you can be a member, which allows you do download as many BTs as you want from their collection.

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Hey Owen!!

Great stuff :slight_smile: enjoyed it.

The timing thing will be mostly you feeling the rhythm more, but strangely that is most easily attained by understanding it. I don’t wanna just sound like I’m flogging you my book, but a few months practicing the exercises in my Rhythm Reading book will likely give you a significant step up on your ability to nail the timing on songs like this!

But I should point out that this is not an easy solo to be working on if rhythm is your weakness. Carlos plays all over the beat in a very musical way, but it’s hard to write down and hard to quantify.

I’d suggest a bunch of rhythm exercises and then trying a few easier solos to really get you playing along with the perfect rhythm as well as the right notes :slight_smile:

Good luck!

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Agree that a guitarless backing is good for practice - but for really nailing the rhythm of the solos, which Owen sees is something that needs a little attention, then playing along is going to be most effective IMHO!

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Thanks! The gain isn’t super high I’ll try turning the gain down and the volume up on the amp so I can turn the volume down on my guitar for the rhythm and up for the solos to hopefully get that right on the edge feedback that Santana plays with. (I hope I’m making sense!).

And I did have fun, which is important, if I get nervous about recording myself it all goes down hill.


Thanks for backing track recommendations. I’ll give them a try.

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You will pay a little more for the “customised” track but you can download ALL the instrument tracks individually. Comes in hand when multi-tracking but some times I’ll just use drums and bass, possibly keys. The other option if you are using a DAW is get a GuitarPro version of the song you are working on and export the midi, which can then be loaded into a DAW as individual tracks. :sunglasses:

Thanks Justin. I did your rhythm maestro course and the funk course and blues course and they’ve made a huge difference. Rhythm reading is still hard so maybe the book is a good next step and making the shift from reading it to feeling it. The challenge seems to be at the moment going from rhythm to lead which floats over the rhythm if I’m trying to learn a solo.

All my favorite guitarists (Gilmour, Knopfler, Santana) seem to do that over the beat thing. I’ve also started working on playing the Time solo over a backing track - its a bit simpler as he almost always hits a chord tone with each chord change

Great song choice! I’d say you’re well on your way with this.

Metronome work is a good, but the real key is to “get into the pocket” of the song. Personally, I find that easier to do with a drum beat (I suppose because it sounds more musical than just a click). You often start out by counting the beat, but eventually you’ll want to be able to feel it. Feel when the drums signal the one, listen to the snare. Join with it. Somewhat ironically, I think practicing a lot of rhythm playing also helps your timing when playing lead.

Another thing you can do is to put on a drum beat and listen to it for a bit, then sing the lead line or phrase you want to play. Then play what you sang. Sometimes it’s easier to “feel” the right timing when you sing it. And somehow that seems to translate to the guitar when you play the same thing (at least in my experience – YMMV).

Are you using your guitar’s volume pot? One thing you can do is keep it rolled back a bit during the rhythm playing (which will take some gain out, as well as volume) and turn it up during the lead.

Great practice suggestions. Especially the singing with the grooves. I’m going to incorporate that.

I also changed the settings on amp/guitar as suggested and this seems to have helped. I’ve recorded after a few weeks of practice. thanks

Not a big Carlos S. fan, but no matter as I like music and you some good stuff here. Tone is close but not on the money. That said I found it very acceptable. I think you are right on timing. Yet to my ears you have a lot of this down pretty good and only need fine tuning from here. I did note when you hit cords that something sounded a tad out of tune? You do a ton of bending, did a string or 2 go out due to that???

Hum, as I listen further, the chord tuning went to almost spot on. Either my hearing aids are playing tricks on me or something in your recording changed?

If you want to keep your levels consistent and depending on if you are in a level setable app. Watch your meters! I don’t trust my bionic ears much, so metter watching has helped on my end.

All the rock’'n best!