Santana’s Secret of Playing Guitar in the Darkness – Learn More Inside

Hey good people! My name is Alon, I'm 27 and I play mainly the guitar, piano, and harmonica. In the last few years, I traveled through four different continents with my guitar while performing and teaching music. Currently, I am based in sunny Tel Aviv, Israel. The GuitarHippies mission: To get you to enjoy your musical journeys to the fullest. Cheers!

You might have never heard about this approach, so listen closely. This tip is really hard to stick with but it’s one of the things that helped me jump start my improvement curve all over again.

I first learned about this idea when I read a quote by Carlos Santana where he mentioned that playing in the dark helped him develop all along the way. I decided to try it myself and I was delighted with the results so I am happy to share it here with you.

What I am talking about is playing in total darkness. Not a dimly lit room – but real total darkness. Not like the one you see in the picture below. You should see nothing but black…

guitar darkness

My Hagstrom Viking. In the dark. Ooooo…

“Why The Hell Would I Do This to Myself” You Might Ask? Here’s Why:

Playing In The Dark Takes Your Ears To Levels You Did Not Know Before!

As you know, when some senses are not in use, the others take over. That’s how your ears become so much better when you “turn off” your vision. It’s like hearing in 3D! Your playing slowly shifts from relying on visuals and on “where do I put my fingers” to actually looking for what sounds right.

It Immensely Boosts Your FEEL And “Navigation Abilities” On The Fretboard.

"Turning off" your sense of vision results in "turbo ears"...

“Turning off” your sense of vision results in “turbo ears”…

When you have nothing but your sense of touch to rely on, and you cannot see any fretboard inlays, you start to really FEEL the fretboard. Slowly you are finding yourself getting rid of the habit of staring at your fretboard when you are improvising or switching between barre chords on the higher frets.

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Sounds Interesting, I Wanna Give It a Try. How Exactly Do You Do It?

First of all, as I said, in order to obtain full advantage of this neat trick, you need to have total darkness in the room. This means you either:

  • Play in a room with blinds that can perfectly seal it from any outside source of light (the best option).
  • Blindfold yourself by tying some kind of cloth around your head.
  • Close your eyes – although I would not recommend it for more than a minute or two – it can make you very dizzy. Occasionally I do it with certain drills when I don’t feel like doing the whole dimming the lights / blindfold thing.


Close the lights and the shutters and be good to go... Or, you can even add a blindfold for an increased challenge and improvement.

Close the lights and the shutters and be good to go… Or, you can even add a blindfold for an increased challenge and improvement.

5 Final Tips to Get The Most Out of the Darkness
  1. The improvement is gonna be massive but it’s not gonna be very easy to stick with it, so even if you don’t like it, don’t give up on this technique until you tried on at least 5 different occasions. Give it a chance! The return in improvement is going to be huge and make it worth your time. Your ears will feel a new level of vitality.
  2. Practicing in the dark while standing with the guitar on a strap is preferable over sitting. I have found that it gives me a solid feeling of confidence and prevents me from getting sleepy.
  3. Achieving a 100% dark room is a much more realistic goal during night time
    Finding a good and comfortable blindfold is important.

    Finding a good and comfortable blindfold (which really just means a nice n’ soft shirt) is important if you choose the blindfold method instead of playing with the lights off.

  4. When you are looking for a good blindfold cloth, make sure that it is big enough to cover your entire sight but small enough so that it does not cover your nose or interferes with your breathing. Also, make sure it’s comfortable and not too warm or itchy.
  5. Don’t jump in too hard on this because you might give up in the same speed. Don’t start by doing all of your guitar practice with the blindfold on. Instead, start by playing in the dark for just 10 minutes out of the full hour that you’re gonna play. Slowly increase the times, but personally, I do not recommend doing this for more than 20% of your total practice time. Why? because it’s not easy and we don’t want you to start hating it, something that’ll lead to totally cutting it down out of your routine.
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That’s it, hope that gave you a new idea to enjoy. If ya try it, Please let us know in the comments how’s it going for you with this new idea!

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2 comments for “Santana’s Secret of Playing Guitar in the Darkness – Learn More Inside

  1. Eddie Ramirez
    January 20, 2017 at 1:33 AM

    Great Idea❗🎸🎹🎼🎵🎶🇺🇸

    • Alon
      January 27, 2017 at 3:47 PM

      Yep, and it works too so not just an idea..

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