He gained distinction for the unmistakable and often imitated “sweet” sound he delivers with his Gibson ES-335. He also broke new ground with his new trademark volume pedal technique, eloquently displayed in his featured performance with legendary jazz/rock group The Crusaders, as well as Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark album, referring to it to as “fly fishing.”
During his tenure with The Crusaders, Carlton performed on 13 of their albums, often contributing material. He released his second solo project, SinginglPlaying. Aptly titled, Carlton not only played guitar, but performed vocals on eight tracks. His demand as a session player reached a zenith, when he was constantly featured with stars from every imaginable genre, ranging from Sammy Davis, Jr., and Herb Alpert to Quincy Jones, Paul Anka, Michael Jackson, John Lennon, Jerry Garcia and Dolly Parton.