Santeria (Main Ska Rhythm)

Animated Santeria (Main Ska Rhythm) tab by Sublime on guitar. So easy you'll be playing in minutes.

This song is great for learning ska rhythm guitar techniques. The song is in the Key of E major.

There are 3 distinct guitar parts for this song:

Guitar 1: Main Ska Rhythm
Guitar 2: Intro & Chorus Fills
Guitar 3: Solo

In this ActionTab we'll look at the main Ska Rhythm Guitar part. If you are into ska, funk and reggae then this song will be a great one to learn. It is a very good example of this style of playing, and you will learn some valuable things about the techniques involved with this type of music.

This 1st guitar part is the main guitar for the whole song. It is the backbone of the whole tune. After we've looked at it, we'll see the fills during the choruses and look at the solo in the next ActionTab.

Although, technically the intro is played by the 2nd guitar, we include it here too for you to learn. After the intro, the rhythm guitar follows a progression of chord stabs:

Intro: Begins here and ends here. This is harder than the rest of the ActionTab, so you may want to move to the chord part first and then come back to the intro last. Essentially the intro involves moving though a chord progression and picking individual notes of those chords. The chord progression is:

E5 - G# maj - C# minor - B maj

After that, we get into punching out that ska rhythm for the verses and chorus:

The chords for the verses use the same progression as the intro (but are played as chord stabs using mostly upstrokes and muting):


E maj - G# maj - C# minor - B maj (repeat)

Notice that only partial chords are played - i.e. the 'high' parts of the chords on the top strings are struck, and the lower strings are muted / avoided. The full barre chords were held during the intro, but for the rest of the song verses we only play parts of these chords. Use your thumb and fingers to mute the unwanted strings.

Notice how between chord stabs the strings must be muted. This is essential to get that clean, punchy ska rhythm effect. You don't have to be too careful with avoiding which strings to strike as long as you are muting unwanted notes properly. That's because even if you overstrike a chord and hit the muted notes, they will be drowned out by the fretted notes you are playing.

Ska is all about rhythm. If you are struggling with keeping the stabs tight, and keep getting it wrong, here's what to do....

Play constant down and up strokes instead. Notice that because of the muting there is a gap between almost every upstroke. The odds are that the problem you are having is getting used to playing just upstrokes on what we call the 'offbeat', instead of starting the bar with a downstroke (on the beat) and then playing the upstroke. This is unnatural at first to a lot of players, and can cause you to mess up the rhythm.

The solution is easy....fill the 'gaps' between upstrokes with downstrokes. You are muting the strings during those gaps anyway, so it should just give a rhythmic 'click' that fits the beat nicely. By putting in the downstroke (on the beat), you'll find the following upstroke comes more naturally.

So instead of playing the song:

gap - E5 - gap - E5 - gap - E5 - Gap - E5
gap - us - gap - us - gap - us - Gap - us (us = upstroke)


gap - E5 - gap - E5 - gap - E5 - Gap - E5
*ds - us - *ds - us - *ds - us - *ds - us (*ds = downstroke, us = upstroke)

Just cycle through one chord until you get it right, and once you are more comfortable with the rhythm, start removing the downstrokes and just hitting the 'offbeat' upstrokes.

If you are still struggling, don't forget to work through the Core Skills Section on Muting!

After the Verses, we move to the Chorus. Notice there is a second guitar here too, we'll look at that in the next ActionTab, here we'll continue with the main rhythm guitar chords:

A maj - B maj - E maj - D# minor - C# minor

This progression repeats again with some slight variations, then back to the next verse. The chords for the verses and choruses are the same from here on through the song until the very end, so you should be set to go!

The only last difference is the ending of the song at the last chorus. The chords are:

A maj - B maj - E maj - D#5 - C#5 - B major - A5 - B major - E7 (slow strum the final chord).

Have fun!

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