School me in funk

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I want to be able to play some funk guitar but don't really know where to begin. I want to be able to use some funk based votes in a band context to give variety to my normal playing.

Can you point me in the right direction of some basic chords or chord shapes?
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341
    Use the top 3 (thinnest 3) strings for chord voicings, don't play the chunky barre chords, and practice your 16th notes. Look at Nile Rodgers playing on YouTube. He has the chops!
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  • vizviz Frets: 4804
    Check out Corduroy, james taylor quartet, and obvs james brown etc. 
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 4070
    use a compressor
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 16299
    Nile Rogers ...














    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • neilgneilg Frets: 16
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3148
    edited June 11
    Listen to horn section chord voicings.





    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2881
    edited June 11
    tone wise don't got for a 'pristine clean'.. it's too brittle and thin
    I use an 'aggressive clean'.. so when I play strong there's just a hint of breakup in the highs..
    in isolation it may not sound quite clean enough <mine just about clean enough>..
    in the mix it'll be sparkly clean with a bit of girth..

    I use more than only the 1st thru 3rd strings..
    some of the grooves I play are on the 2nd thru 4th strings too

    you don't have to make a sound on every 1/16th note [sounding chord and grace notes <the neck hand muted "clicks">]
    this can consume space with the drummer playing 1/16th on the hats..
    I always treat funk guitar like tuned percussion.. so I think more about timing and phrasing, and my interaction with the drums and bass, than I do about notes..

    play from the wrist so your anchor is the forearm close to the elbow on the top of the guitar body
    always play through the strings with speed and power.. so you whip though the target strings
    it's quite an aggressive / physical performance style

    here's an extract from a song on a funk album I played on a few years ago
    there's a nice 'drop' moment in there where the guitar is really exposed and easy to hear in detail..



    guitar choice: Morgan V6 middle pup selection [neck and bridge together]
    amps: JCM800 to the left <bright and aggressive> / Hiwatt to the right <thick and full bodied>
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • vizviz Frets: 4804
    Clarky said:
    tone wise don't got for a 'pristine clean'.. it's too brittle and thin
    I use an 'aggressive clean'.. so when I play strong there's just a hint of breakup in the highs..
    in isolation it may not sound quite clean enough <mine just about clean enough>..
    in the mix it'll be sparkly clean with a bit of girth..

    I use more than only the 1st thru 3rd strings..
    some of the grooves I play are on the 2nd thru 4th strings too

    you don't have to make a sound on every 1/16th note [sounding chord and grace notes <the neck hand muted "clicks">]
    this can consume space with the drummer playing 1/16th on the hats..
    I always treat funk guitar like tuned percussion.. so I think more about timing and phrasing, and my interaction with the drums and bass, than I do about notes..

    play from the wrist so your anchor is the forearm close to the elbow on the top of the guitar body
    always play through the strings with speed and power.. so you whip though the target strings
    it's quite an aggressive / physical performance style

    here's an extract from a song on a funk album I played on a few years ago
    there's a nice 'drop' moment in there where the guitar is really exposed and easy to hear in detail..



    guitar choice: Morgan V6 middle pup selection [neck and bridge together]
    amps: JCM800 to the left <bright and aggressive> / Hiwatt to the right <thick and full bodied>
    Awesome playing throughout!
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  • BazPBazP Frets: 278
    Loose 2 strings and get a sparkly top hat

    https://goo.gl/images/RQBL7b
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  • KebabkidKebabkid Frets: 1373
    Look up the Paul Jackson Jr vids (The Science of Rhythm Guitar) and vids by the late, great Ross Bolton.

    Of course, Nile Rodgers is always a good place to start as is stuff featuring Ray Parker Jr (yep, of Ghostbusters' fame - he was a very busy session guy back in the day).
     www.cairoeast.co.uk - Madness Tribute band (Bass Player) and guitarist elsewhere
    Feedback - http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/57885/
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 7004
    Kebabkid said:
    Look up the Paul Jackson Jr vids (The Science of Rhythm Guitar) and vids by the late, great Ross Bolton.

    Of course, Nile Rodgers is always a good place to start as is stuff featuring Ray Parker Jr (yep, of Ghostbusters' fame - he was a very busy session guy back in the day).
    Pity you can't really get hold of the full PJ Jr one, it would be very interesting.
    Bolton knew his stuff and played and taught funk at pretty high levels so the long tutorials by him on YouTube are worth seeking out. 

    We do seem to have an almost weekly Discussion asking how to play funk. I don't know if there's just a general revival of interest ( ten years ago you might have been laughed off a guitar forum for mentioning Nile Rodgers but now we all love him) or it's seen as the new minor pentatonic giving 'instant results.' 
    Not that I'd make any claims for my funk playing although there is an almost instant transition of the basics into other styles like blues and reggae. 

    Anyway, this has reminded me that I was listening to some James Brown the other day and the guitar work was so minimal and yet so right. In some ways easy but there's a discipline there you don't often see, the art of playing next to nothing is greatly under rated. And a different approach to funk than Nile Rodgers or Leo Nocentelli. Like all genres that have been around a bit there isn't necessarily only one approach. 
    Dum dum dum, dum dum de dum, dum dum dum, dum dummmm.
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  • KebabkidKebabkid Frets: 1373
    Great playing there @Clarky - I enjoyed that.

    Another player to listen to is Corey Wong from Vulfpeck but you can ease yourself into rhythm, feel and groove by listening to James Brown stuff and Steve Cropper stuff before getting onto the frantic stuff that Corey's showing here. Oh, and compression helps and you can hear it in abundance here



     www.cairoeast.co.uk - Madness Tribute band (Bass Player) and guitarist elsewhere
    Feedback - http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/57885/
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 64
    Another modern player to check out is Mark Lettieri, who has absurd rhythm chops. Even when just playing single lines.




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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2881
    viz said:
    Clarky said:
    tone wise don't got for a 'pristine clean'.. it's too brittle and thin
    I use an 'aggressive clean'.. so when I play strong there's just a hint of breakup in the highs..
    in isolation it may not sound quite clean enough <mine just about clean enough>..
    in the mix it'll be sparkly clean with a bit of girth..

    I use more than only the 1st thru 3rd strings..
    some of the grooves I play are on the 2nd thru 4th strings too

    you don't have to make a sound on every 1/16th note [sounding chord and grace notes <the neck hand muted "clicks">]
    this can consume space with the drummer playing 1/16th on the hats..
    I always treat funk guitar like tuned percussion.. so I think more about timing and phrasing, and my interaction with the drums and bass, than I do about notes..

    play from the wrist so your anchor is the forearm close to the elbow on the top of the guitar body
    always play through the strings with speed and power.. so you whip though the target strings
    it's quite an aggressive / physical performance style

    here's an extract from a song on a funk album I played on a few years ago
    there's a nice 'drop' moment in there where the guitar is really exposed and easy to hear in detail..



    guitar choice: Morgan V6 middle pup selection [neck and bridge together]
    amps: JCM800 to the left <bright and aggressive> / Hiwatt to the right <thick and full bodied>
    Awesome playing throughout!
    thanks matey... glad you enjoyed it..
    : )
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2881

    Kebabkid said:
    Great playing there @Clarky - I enjoyed that.

    Another player to listen to is Corey Wong from Vulfpeck but you can ease yourself into rhythm, feel and groove by listening to James Brown stuff and Steve Cropper stuff before getting onto the frantic stuff that Corey's showing here. Oh, and compression helps and you can hear it in abundance here



    thanks matey.... 

    interesting that no one has mentioned my rather unusual amp choice for funk...
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • KebabkidKebabkid Frets: 1373
    edited June 12
    Clarky said:



    interesting that no one has mentioned my rather unusual amp choice for funk...
    Very true but maybe we're all starting to use our ears and it's a great end result and does the job!
     www.cairoeast.co.uk - Madness Tribute band (Bass Player) and guitarist elsewhere
    Feedback - http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/57885/
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  • richcolrichcol Frets: 10
    Check out: Maceo Parker - "Life on Planet Groove". The JB's - "Funky Good Time: The Anthology", James Brown - "Revolution of the Mind". 
    As well as the Ross Bolton videos, TrueFire have a great course by Oz Noy - Essentials: Funk Rhythm Guitar. He breaks down the technique really well and the tracks are basically versions James Brown, Earth WInd & Fire, Prince tracks etc. You can get a 30 day free trial for access to it.   

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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 10566
    I winced at the wrongness of the thread title. 
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2881
    Clarky said:

    Kebabkid said:
    Great playing there @Clarky - I enjoyed that.

    Another player to listen to is Corey Wong from Vulfpeck but you can ease yourself into rhythm, feel and groove by listening to James Brown stuff and Steve Cropper stuff before getting onto the frantic stuff that Corey's showing here. Oh, and compression helps and you can hear it in abundance here



    thanks matey.... 

    interesting that no one has mentioned my rather unusual amp choice for funk...
    haaaa yes....

    when most folks talk about funk tone, as you'd expect they'll real off lists of all kinds of clean amps..
    the JCM800 couldn't be further from their minds..
    in truth though.. the settings I had on it were probably a bit unlikely to work live through the real amp..
    I guess that's the beauty of something like the Axe-FX.. it enables you to experiment with 'the stupid' and get surprising results

    a real amp though that is awesome for funk that really surprises folk is the Diezel VH4 [channels 1 and 2 are both great]
    when I go to the Guitar Show in Brum.. I always go get my Diezel fix.. bang out some funk grooves on the VH4..
    Doug always cranks the amp and we end up getting a yellow card by the volume ref.. lmao
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 2881
    Can you point me in the right direction of some basic chords or chord shapes?
    a lot of funk is in Em [cos sloppy bassists like the open E]

    Em7 using the Am7 fingering barred up on the 7th fret
    Em7 using the Em7 fingering barred up on the 12th fret
    you'll tend to want to focus your strumming on the 1st through 4th strings

    other useful chords are:
    Em9 [x,7, 5, 7, 7, 7]
    Gmaj7 [x10, 12, 11, 12, 10] <-- uses the Amaj7 fingering barred at the 10th fret
    note: playing Gmaj7 over a bass line in Em will result in Em9
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • Emp_FabEmp_Fab Frets: 13114
    Talking of Vulfpeck....  get a load of them doing Deantown in Dublin....   I wasn't expecting that from the audience !!!

    Wow !




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  • TimmyOTimmyO Frets: 2817

    1. Chord fragments

    2. Bubble/Bubblegum picking (google it) 

    3. KNOW WHERE THE 1 IS!

    4. Sometimes you are the groove, sometimes you are the metronomic/robotic rhythmic counterpoint to it. Both are cool. And hard. 

    5. KNOW WHERE THE 1 IS!
    "Congratulations on being officially the most right anyone has ever been about anything, ever." -- Noisepolluter knows the score
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