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Michael Johnson >> 70s Funk Blast >>
Don Mock: Hi everyone

John: What is the lesson tonite?

Don Mock: funk guitar from the 70s



Don Mock: Check out the sound clip, it has many of the lines we will be learning later.

Don Mock: Our focus tonight will be on some classic rhythm funk guitar movements. I also have a few contemporary patterns that I'm sure you'll like.

Don Mock: Although guitar players can serve several rolls in funk including playing melody lines and soloing, it's the funky rhythmic background parts that often defines the style.

AScriabin: 9th chords galore

fergy: so true

Don Mock: Funk playing doesn't have to be complicated or difficult to play to sound hip.

Don Mock: In many cases, the parts are very simple and range from single notes to complete chords

Don Mock: When it comes to guitar chords used in funk music, the dominant 9th chord comes to mind for many players.

Don Mock: Everyone remembers many of James Brown's hits which feature the funky use of the 9th.

Don Mock: Let's go over a few of the classic voicings. Most players know a few based off of the roots on the 5th and 6th strings.

Don Mock: Here's C9 with the root on the 5th string. Don't play the low E string by muting it with the tip of your 2nd finger.

C9 Chord (first)


Don Mock: In fact, muting strings is a HUGE deal in good funk playing.

Don Mock: You'll be playing a lot of two or three note voicings and will need to mute or 'deaden' the others

Don Mock: This is important because you will want to strum all six strings a lot of the time to give you that 'fat' attack and won't want the other strings ringing out.

Don Mock: Here is another form for C9.

C9 (second)


Don Mock: We won't play the root on the 6th string. You can play this chord a few ways; with or without the top E string, or only the top four strings.

C9 (third)


Don Mock: here's one more cool C9 chord to work with

C9 (fourth)


Don Mock: Before we learn some funk examples, we need to talk a bit about rhythm.

Don Mock: Funk IS rhythm and for guitar players it's all about the right hand (left if you're a southpaw).

Don Mock: Many funk patterns are based in 16th notes.

Don Mock: Funk patterns are usually combinations (syncopation) of 16th notes.

Don Mock: Learn to play with your picking hand all four combinations of 16th notes.

Don Mock: The following graphic shows the count and the up and down strokes. Count 16th's like this; 'One', 'e', '&', 'a', 'Two', 'e', '&', 'a' , etc.



Don Mock: Mute all the strings with your left hand and do this.

Don Mock: Strum steady 16th's (4 attacks every beat) by strumming the 'One' with a down-stroke, 'e' with an up-stroke, '&' with a down-stroke, and 'a' with another up-stroke.

Don Mock: Count out loud and keep the tempo steady.

Don Mock: Now play an E9 on the 8th fret.

Don Mock: Sound the chord only on the 'One'

Don Mock: On the other three accents, relax the left hand pressure to mute the strings. The sound you should make is: 'Chord, chick, chick chick'. etc.

Don Mock: Practice this in time over and over working on these two very important techniques; picking and muting.



Don Mock: To continue this exercise, accent the chord on the 'e' this time.

Don Mock: 'chick, Chord, chick, chick' etc. Then accent on the '&', 'chick, chick, Chord, chick'.

Don Mock: And finally, accent the 'a', 'chick, chick, chick, Chord'.

Don Mock: As you get comfortable with these accents you can invent combinations.

Don Mock: Change the pattern from bar to bar. You might find it helpful to write down the patterns.

Don Mock: Here is a jam track to practice these techniques against:



Don Mock: This track is a 'funk' E7 groove.

fergy: do you need to set up your strings fairly high to get a good mute sound?

Don Mock: muting isn't about the height of strings.

fergy: i know...but i almost get harmonics instead of the chick

Don Mock: muting is done with the fingers on the left hand

Don Mock: and sometimes the right hand palm

Don Mock: hold the strings more firmly with the left hand

scott: What is a common chord progression for funk? I, IV, V?

Don Mock: funk tunes are like any other song, they can be lots of different progressions

Don Mock: What makes them funk is the rhythm

Josh: i always mute with my palm

John: Basically you hold you left hand like your playing a chord but you don't press down all the way. Correct?

Don Mock: right on John

Don Mock: OK guys, let's move on to some funk examples.

Don Mock: This first example uses the C9 voicing we just learned.

Don Mock: It also features another higher C9 voicing along with a classic dominant 7th chord hammer-on lick every guitar player should know.

C9 Funk pattern


Ken: Any tip to applying a classical technique for the right hand to this?

Don Mock: Classical technique does have a place in funk music for a guitar player

Don Mock: but more in the role of a keyboard player might do

Don Mock: guitar funk parts are notorious for having lots of scratches coming from the right-hand picking

Don Mock: I have a different jam track to go along with the C7 funk pattern:



Don Mock: The only problem you might have with this example is with the C7 chord in the second bar.

Don Mock: Many players do what I do which is to use the left thumb on the C root 6th string.

Ken: To play the chords as arpegios? As scratches it really calls for a pick,right?

Don Mock: It can also be played with a 1st finger barr, or with the 2nd and 3rd fingers.

Don Mock: Either way, be sure to get a clean hammer-on on the 3rd string (Eb to E).

Don Mock: Here is the C7 pattern in music notation, so that you can see the rhythms:





Don Mock: Example #2 is two-bar E7 funk move that uses 3rds and more 9th chords.

E7 funk pattern


Don Mock: and here is the music notation also:





Don Mock: It begins with some major 3rd intervals leading up to an E9 with an added 13th on top which is released.

Don Mock: Next is a common technique of sliding into a chord from 1/2 step below.

Don Mock: (Eb9 to E9)

Don Mock: The second bar is simply our two 9th voicings for E9.

Don Mock: A good thing to do to keep parts like this funky and in time is to keep your picking hand moving up and down in 16th notes continually.

Don Mock: Either mute and 'chick' the blank places or intentionally miss the strings with the pick.

Don Mock: Play it over this Jam Track in E7:



Don Mock: For the last example you would play the three 3rds with downstrokes because they are on the 'one' , '&' , 'Two'.

Don Mock: The E13 is on beat 'Three' and gets a downstroke while the B note is on the 'e' and played with an upstroke.

Don Mock: The Eb9 is on the 'e' of the fourth beat and is played with an upstroke followed by a downstroke for the last E9('&' of beat four).

Don Mock: The second bar is pretty obvious.

Don Mock: We have one more cool example

Don Mock: Example #3 demonstrates a single-note funk line with a few chord accents at the end.

Don Mock: It's reminiscent of the trend in the late 70's towards single-note phrases often played with a wah wah of phase shifter.

E7 funk pattern #2






Don Mock: The notes are all from the E7 scale (A major) and should also be alternate picked following our up/down stroke method we used earlier.

Don Mock: This example can be played with full up/down stroke hitting all strings.

Don Mock: Only the melody notes should be allowed to sound, while all others are muted.

Don Mock: This creates a huge sound! This take some practice figuring out how to get enough fingers and thumbs on the errant strings.

Don Mock: There is one more jam track for the last pattern

Don Mock: it's a little faster...



Don Mock: that's about all the material for today

Don Mock: The main thing to get out of this lesson is understanding the 16th note feel with your right hand

Don Mock: Ok, bye for now

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