Funk Guitar Lesson


PDA

View Full Version : Funk Guitar Lesson


The_Strat_Man
06-24-2005, 10:53 AM
Funk Guitar

First And Foremost: This guide is NOT for lead guitar. In Funk, the guitar is used for rhythmic purposes, while a sax or some other horn or woodwind for the "lead" work.

Intro
First of all, I'd like to say that I think there should be a monthly column like thing that MT members could contribute to. So, I'm going to try and kick this thing off. I'd also like to hear any ideas you might have on this column idea and any suggestions or the idea.

The Chords
In the style of Funk music, regular major chords won't do. So, instead, you beef everything up and use dominant chords. Dominant chords, and altered chords... In fact, both at once usually go very well in Funk. For those that do not know what dominant chords are, they are chords that contain the perfect fifth with the flat seventh and a major third. So, these chords will work for the key of E: E7, E9, E11, E13, E7#9, etc.

The Rhythm
In Funk guitar there are TWO MAIN things that you should do to make your strums sound a hell of a lot more funkier.
First Thing - Straight Sixteenth Rhythm
When you play your chords, you'll want to choke your chords and keep your pick hand moving. You'll want to keep the same rhythm throughout. Remember the count for sixteenth notes (one ee and uh) so if you can't keep it going yourself, just count it out in your head.
Second Thing - Muted, Percussive Strums
When you're strumming for the rhythm, it wouldn't be interesting without some variety. Sixteen strums of a chord in one bar would get really boring, really quick.So, instead, you throw in some muted strums, and BAM! you got variety. The muted strums really add a nice, funky flavor to your rhythm work. Here's an example of some muted strums in a funky rhythm progression.

Figure 1
E7#9
|---------------------------------|
|-8-8-x-x-8-8-x-x-8-8-x-x-8-8-x-x-|
|-7-7-x-x-7-7-x-x-7-7-x-x-7-7-x-x-|
|-6-6-x-x-6-6-x-x-6-6-x-x-6-6-x-x-|
|-7-7-x-x-7-7-x-x-7-7-x-x-7-7-x-x-|
|---------------------------------|


The Hemiola
A Hemiola, what in the heck is this, you might ask. Is it some kind of bump on the skin, or a disease? It's far from it. It's a feel. In 4/4 feel there is a feeling of 4 and groups of 4. But, when you play with a hemiola you're still playing in 4/4 time, but you're playing with a feel of 3 instead of 4. This is a big staple in funk rhythm guitar, so learn how to do it. Here's an example on the 3 over 4 feel:

Figure 2
E9
|---------------------------------|
|-7-x-x-7-x-x-7-x-x-7-x-x-7-7-7-x-|
|-7-x-x-7-x-x-7-x-x-7-x-x-7-7-7-x-|
|-6-x-x-6-x-x-6-x-x-6-x-x-6-6-6-x-|
|-7-x-x-7-x-x-7-x-x-7-x-x-7-7-7-x-|
|---------------------------------|


Single Notes and Double Stops
Not all funk guitar has to be chords. You can make the same groovy statement with single notes and double stops that fill in for the chords. When you use single notes, you can imply the same harmony as the chords without all of the chords, and use notes from the minor pentatonic scale of the same key. Here's an example using the groove from "Play That Funky Music (White Boy)" by Wild Cherry:

Figure 3
E7#9
|--------------------|--------------------|
|--------------------|--------------------|
|--------------------|--------------------|
|--------------------|--------------------|
|-----7-5-7-----5h7--|-----7-5-7-----5h7--|
|-0-0-------5h7------|-0-0-------5h7------|

For the double stops, you can try playing this next example:

Figure 4
A7
|-------------------|-------------------|
|-x-x-/7-5--x-7-5---|-x-x-/7-5--x-7-5---|
|-x-x-/7-5--x-7-5---|-x-x-/7-5--x-7-5---|
|-----------x-----7-|-----------x-----7-|
|-------------------|-------------------|
|-------------------|-------------------|


Wah-Wah
The Wah pedal is a great effect used in conjunction with all of the previously mentioned rhythm parts. It can add a lot more variety or cool sounds to your guitar work. BUT, make sure you don't use it all of the time, or your guitar work can sound cheesy.

Minor Key Funk
In all of the previous examples we've been using happy sounding dominant rhythm figures. That's all because of the presence of the Mixolydian mode. It's a safe scale to play over the dominant chords, because it's a dominant mode. But, funk doesn't have to be all dominant, or all major sounding. Minor 7 chords and minor 6 chords are just as popular with funk as the dominant chords can be.

Swing Sixteenths
Cm7
|-x-x-6-x-x-6-x-x-6-x-x-6-x-x-6-6-|
|-x-x-4-x-x-4-x-x-4-x-x-4-x-x-4-4-|
|-x-x-5-x-x-5-x-x-5-x-x-5-x-x-5-5-|
|---------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|


Over these kind of figures, you can use the mode of Dorian (1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7)

Swunk
Swunk? Did I just make that up? I think not. Swunk is a combination between Funk and swing. Swunk takes those other rhythm figures and adds a swing sixteenth feel.

MINIMALISING YOUR FUNK
Well, now that you know how to play your straight sixteenth rhythm, work on just laying the groove and letting the horn section and vocalist do the work. If you've ever heard James Brown's "Get Up (I Feel Like A) Sex Machine" you can tell how minimilastic the guitar work is. Here's the tab for it:

Eb9....Eb13
|----6--8--6--|
|-6--6--6--6--|
|-6--6--6--6--|
|-------------|
|-------------|
|-------------|


This kind of funk goes well when you have a great singer, great percussion section, or great horn players. This kind of funk is less frantic, really relies on great time-keeping. It's laid back and easy to groove to.

Outro
And that concludes my column and lesson on Funk. Do any users have any suggestions on additions for this lesson?

Gutch220
06-24-2005, 10:59 AM
Its a good column, I think there should be a funk lesson for bass guitar too...i.e. slap bass

SilentDeftone
06-24-2005, 11:13 AM
For those that do not know what dominant chords are, they are chords that contain the perfect fifth with the flat seventh.No major 3rds? :p:

There are no typos that stand out to me.

Haven't listened to the audio yet? will do soon.

-SD :dance:

ice-bcrich
06-24-2005, 11:14 AM
I agree, nice column

The_Strat_Man
06-24-2005, 11:17 AM
Originally posted by SilentDeftone
No major 3rds? :p:

There are no typos that stand out to me.

Haven't listened to the audio yet? will do soon.

-SD :dance:

Woops, thanks for catching that.

slash_pwns
06-24-2005, 12:04 PM
Not my area of expertise, but this is good. Nothing that I can really disagree with.

Freepower
06-26-2005, 05:40 AM
Good lesson, but include the old inverted minor chords on the high E, B and G. Do wonders for the funk.

The_Strat_Man
06-29-2005, 10:23 AM
So, is this lesson ready to be submitted?

slash_pwns
06-29-2005, 10:50 AM
How about some tab examples of minor key? And how to use the wah pedal? And combining single notes, fret hand muting, chord, double stops and wah to make funk rhythm figures? More on swunk too. You should really put tabs everywhere you can.

Sorry if this is a little late :\

meh!
07-28-2005, 07:11 PM
you mentioned funk with the constant (percussive) 16th notes but you also get more minalmist funk like sex machine is a good example...lay down the groove and get the hell outta the way busy funk is muh more frantic.

The_Strat_Man
07-28-2005, 10:42 PM
I edited it up a tad bit, and added in the minimalising stuff. Hopefully it's ready now. I didn't add tab to Swunk, 'cause with tab I couldn't really explain it any more than I did.

incubusbassplay
08-12-2005, 07:32 PM
funk bass is kooler than funk guitar in my opinion

slash_pwns
08-12-2005, 08:15 PM
This is already on the site...