Guitar lesson for


by Sublime  •  Lesson #327

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

In this lesson I’ll show you how I like to play a strummed, solo acoustic version of “Santeria” by Sublime (from their 1996 self-titled album). While originally played in the key of E, I’ll be playing in the key of C – which lets you utilize more traditional open chords. This makes it easier to play, as well as lending itself very nicely for the laid back acoustic vibe I’m going for with this arrangement. Add a capo 4th fret, and you’ll be able to play along with the Sublime version.

Lyrics and chords

Capo 4th fret to play along with Sublime

    C   E   Am   G

            C                          E
    I don’t practice Santeria, I ain’t got no crystal ball
            Am                           G
    Well, I had a million dollars but I..... I spent it all
       C                                   E
    If I could find that Heina... and that Sancho that she’s found
              Am                          G
    Well, I’d pop a cap in Sancho and I’d slap... her... down------

        F         G            C          Am
        ...What I really wanna know... my baby
        F               G            C         Am
        ...Hmmm, what I really wanna say.... I can’t define
        F             G              C      Am      F      G           
        ...Well, it’s love... that I need-----, oh..... my soul will have to

    C                            E                  Am                         G
    Wait 'til I get back, find a Heina of my own... Daddy’s gonna love one and all
          C                                     E
    And I feel the break, feel the break, feel----- the break
                         Am                  G
    And I got to live it out, oh---- yeah uh-huh... well, I swear that I

        F         G            C        Am     
        ...What I really wanna know, my baby
        F         G            C         Am
        ...what I really wanna say.... I can’t define
        F       G             C    Am     F     G                     C
        ...Got! Love! Make it go------ ..... my soul will have to...

    [ instrumental verse w/ solo ]

              F         G            C       Am    
        Ooooh... what I really wanna say, my baby
        F         G            C       Am       (F)
        ...what I really wanna say, is I've got mine
        F           G               C           Am   F             G           
        ...And I'll make it, oh yes I am coming up...... tell Sanchito that if...

    C                                 E                       Am                      G
    He knows what is good for him, he best go run and hide... Daddy’s got a new forty-five
        C                                        E
    And I won’t think twice to stick that barrel straight down Sancho’s throat
       Am                        G           
    Believe me when I say that I got something for his punk-ass

        F         G            C        Am      F     
        ...What I really wanna know, my baby, oooh...
               G            C      Am           (F)      
        what I really wanna say is there's just one
        F      G                C     Am             
        ...Way back... and I'll make----- it, yeah
        F     G                 C     G/B  Am  G  F     G     C7 soul will have to wait------------- yeah, yeah, yeah

Capo 4 to play along with the album version

Heads up! I like to play this song in the key of C, which means you’ll need a capo on the 4th fret in order to play with Sublime’s album version (which is in the key of E). I prefer the key of C because it lets you use more typical open chords, which works nicely for a chilled out acoustic version of this song.

Chord shapes needed

If played in the key of C, here’s the chords you’ll need. The trickiest one here is the F – which I’ll often play by only fretting the middle 4 strings (e.g., x3321x) – keeping the thinnest and thickest strings muted. This is easier than a barre chord F, but you can use that if you want.

[ See PDF for chord shape diagrams ]

Chord Progressions

If you play four beats per measure, using a tempo of 175bpm, the chord progression looks as follows. You could also use a 50% slower tempo (i.e. around 90bpm) but that requires you to strum along on 16th notes, which is trickier to explain. See my video lesson for details.

Verse (play twice):

| C  . . . | C  . . . | E . . . | E . . . |
| Am . . . | Am . . . | G . . . | G . . . |


| F . . . | G . . . | C . . . | Am . . . | x3
| F . . . | G . . . |                      x1

Strumming pattern

I prefer either of the following patterns for an acoustic version. One of them is doing all down strums on the quarter notes, with the “1” and “3” counts getting only the bass notes, and the “2” and “4” getting accents/emphasis. Or, you could do the more full strum I show – which requires a bit more of the right hand but sounds good I think.

[ See PDF for strumming diagrams ]

Faking the first line of the solo

Here’s the tab for the first 2 chords of the solo, if your goal is to mimic the notes being played in Sublime’s album version (which again, is in the key of E). This is just a fun, fairly do-able way to approximate the recognizable sound and maybe turn a few heads. For the remaining chords (Am-G), I don’t have the rest of the solo tab worked out – so I’ll just noodle around on those.

[ See PDF for the tab ]

Sublime’s album version

If you want to listen to how the sublime version actually sounds, here you go!

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