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How to funk on guitar in under 5mins!
Old 4th February 2020
  #1
Gear Head
 

How to funk on guitar in under 5mins!

Check out these 5 quick steps! Includes some beginner (and a couple of pro) techniques and a couple of famous riff examples. Hope you enjoy it! Based off the funk styles of Nile Rodgers, Prince, and Jimmy Nolan (James Brown), who I think are the finest funk players ever! Who else is an amazing funk player? Leo Nocentelli as well, certainly...

Old 16th February 2020
  #2
The thing about a lot of funk guitar (not all of it) is that the guitarist often doesn't play through the whole figure, whatever it might be. People do that (chunka-chunka-chord-chunka-chunka), but that's not how many song go down. Many times, the player cuts out for a beat or two at least to give space for the other instruments, or lets a note ring out. For instance, the guitar parts in "God Made Me Funky" by the Headhunters comes to mind. Leo Nocentelli often did this too in many Meters tracks. I don't think the 16ths thing is how you get to funk, it has more to do with learning patterns and how to "fit" with the other instruments.
Old 17th February 2020
  #3
One of my recent tracks that, hopefully, also demonstrates it:
Old 20th February 2020
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clash View Post
This guy gets it. The thing about funk is the spaces. The guitar leaves space for the bass, the bass leaves space for the keys. The instruments leave room for the vocals.
It's all about each player making their bar or two bars or half a bar count - then GTFO out the way.

I agree completely with what all of you are saying! Where all of you might also be slightly missing the point as well though is this is a video lesson for beginner funk guitar. The muted strokes are essential at this stage for a beginner to understand the timing of 16th note strumming, where the strokes fall on 1-e-&-a etc. Only once you've mastered that kind of timing and syncopation can you then start to remove most of the strokes and leave behind the much simpler funk part with lots of space. But that is a future video for players ready to take that next step up. Appreciate the feedback though, you're all most definitely right in what you say!
Old 20th February 2020
  #5
John Scofield A Go go album the best funk guitar out there - Chank being a classic.
Old 21st February 2020
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooncat84 View Post
Where all of you might also be slightly missing the point as well though is this is a video lesson for beginner funk guitar. The muted strokes are essential at this stage for a beginner to understand the timing of 16th note strumming, where the strokes fall on 1-e-&-a etc. Only once you've mastered that kind of timing and syncopation can you then start to remove most of the strokes and leave behind the much simpler funk part with lots of space.!
I get that, however, I feel like that sets one up to fail later on. If you practice a "feel" of 8ths and 16ths, that's how everything will sound by default. Funk is different in that it doesn't fit on that sort of grid, even with swing. This, I think, is one of the big misunderstandings across instruments w.r.t. funk music. I use the word "pattern" to describe funk parts on purpose because so much of it can't really be notated, it's easier and IMO better to listen and imitate.

Here's the best video I've seen that gets to this point. Listen to what Jabo Starks plays on the ride, and how he explains the groove for "Super Bad". But before that, he demos "Sex Machine", which does a similar thing. Pay attention to what he's playing for "Sex Machine", especially on the hi-hat, and how it sounds -- it sounds like he might be doing simpler things like swung 8ths or 16ths, but he's not doing that at all:



Then, for "Super Bad" he describes it as a "dancer's tune" and he mentions fooling around with patterns. Then, he plays a figure that tap dancers use, which IMO would be really hard to notate. So, step 1 for a beginning funk player is to understand this concept, even if the "patterns" are somewhat simple at first. The main thing is to play them with consistent timing, even though that timing may have little to do with where 8ths or 16ths fall. This tap-dance pattern, along with perhaps the "clave" from New Orleans music, would be IMO a true "beginner" sort of approach to funk -- learn to play those patterns on your instrument of choice, and when you can do that consistently from measure to measure you're ready to move on.

It wasn't until I got what he was doing (and many, many other musicians from that time were doing) that I made any real progress in my funk playing. Now, I can listen to a groove and pick out the patterns and then it's a matter of imitating, rather than trying to match written notes to sounds or make it fit to 16ths or 8ths or whatever subdivision. Also, it's much easier to improvise my own patterns now that I've learned a few. That process took about 6 months, once I understood what was going on. My main problem now as a player is keeping things consistent so the pattern is "solid" each time I play it w.r.t. timing.

Also, once you "get it", go back and listen to him doing "Sex Machine" again -- notice how much easier it is to pick up on the pattern he's playing on the hi-hat when they use the room mics instead of the close mics? This is why I hate close-micing for funk, the thing that makes it "work" is how all the drums sound together and how they interact with each other, and it presents the various patterns in a cohesive way so you can see how they "fit" (i.e. how his snare pattern fits with his hi-hat pattern, and so on).

EDIT: Here's "Turn On Your Lovelights" with Jabo on drums --



You can hear a lot of what Jabo is talking about in this song, even though it isn't strictly funk. So much music from the 1950's on into the early 80's uses these things, but for whatever reason I feel like they got "lost" and aren't really taught or passed on anymore.

EDIT 2: Ernie Adams breaks down a lot of this too, especially the "clave" and why these rhythms sound different from "western" rhythms. He also calls out ppl for doing it wrong :


Last edited by poserp; 21st February 2020 at 07:16 AM..
Old 22nd February 2020
  #7
In terms of funk guitar, I'm partial to these (a small sample from a very large pool):





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