Play Funk Guitar – Lesson Two

In this lesson, we are checking out three ideas to add variety to the dominant ‘9’ chord that we learnt in lesson one. The main aim of today’s lesson is to show you that by having a tight underlying groove, mixed with enough space for all the other instruments creates super tight funk. Often when I teach people the basics of funk they go crazy applying all of them at once. This is undoubtedly very fun, but fitting in with the band and allowing rests in your playing is just as important as playing these ideas.

Funk Guitar Example 1 – Sliding the Dominant 9th Chord

Sliding chords is an integral technique used in funk guitar. I tend to opt for a one fret approach and from below where you are aiming to go to. You can of course mix and match and try this technique out on any chord progression you are playing. Use sparingly for maximum impact!

Funk Guitar Example 2 – Dominant 9th – 13th

James Brown territory here! The main advantage to playing your dominant ‘9th’ chord with a barred finger is that your little finger is free to play some different notes. In this example we are going between an E9 chord to an E13. The strumming pattern here will take a bit more practice as I am introducing muted chords between each phrase. Keep your strumming hand consistent and refer to the picking directions if you are lost. Metronome will be your best friend with this example.

Funk Guitar Example 3 – Dominant 9 Chord Vamp

This example combines sliding into the E9 chord and adding in the 13th, with a little single note part as well. What I am keen to put across here is that in funk you can often have a one chord vamp, but it never needs to be boring. Try applying these techniques into your normal rhythm playing patterns.

Recommended listening

For classic James Brown style guitar licks, I recommend buying the album “The Godfather: The Very Best Of James Brown.” My favourite track on that album being “Sex Machine.”

Subscribe on Youtube

Make sure you log on and subscribe to our new YouTube Channel, dedicated to bringing you the finest free guitar lessons.

Guitar Lesson Video Transcription

Hey guys, Simon here once again for Fundamental Changes. Today we’re doing our Introduction to Funk Guitar part 2. I hope you’re going to enjoy these, so let’s get to those next.

[guitar playing]

In lesson 1 we were looking at the E 9 chord, or the E dominant 9 chord. I often refer to this as the James Brown chord, as he sort of owns it. If you haven’t learned that one yet, it’s nothing on the 6th string, 7-6-7-7 as separate fingers there, or 7-6-7-7-7 barring through with your ring finger.

In Example 1 here today I wanted to look at just the most common adaption of this as we look at this in this funk, and that is the slide-in from below. I tend to do a 1-fret slide, you can practice doing slides in, more than 1 fret or above.

The first part of this example 1 here, is you’re going to slide the whole shape, so push in nice and hard, pick through the strings, slide up into that position. On the end of it, it’s a very simple little 7th fret on the 6th string, 5th fret on the 5th string, just a little pattern there to loop you around. So pick, hold it in hard, slide in the whole fret.

Now you can practice this all your different shapes,it’ll give you a very funky sound if you can start to slide in from 1 fret below each of your different shapes. That’s the E 9 first adaption, sliding in from 1 fret below.

Let’s go and have a look at Example 2.

[guitar playing]

Another super fun thing to do to adapt up your 9 chord is to add your little finger into the 9th fret of the top string to give you an E 13 chord. Now, this of course means that you’ll be having to bar through the top 3 strings. If you’re not doing that already, you’re using the other shape.

Unfortunately, you’re going to struggle because you won’t have your little finger free. This example here, I want you to concentrate on consistency with your right hand. This is going to be going down-up-down-up-down-up throughout the 16th notes, and on the end when you’ve got the E 9 and the E 13, it’s just applied with 2 down strokes to try and keep the pattern the same.

It’s basically 1 pick, and then 2 mutes, and then it goes through this pattern. You’ll see that my right hand, or my picking hand, should I say, is just consistent with this 16th notes: 1 e & a, 2 e & a, 3 e & a, etc,etc,etc.

Then we’re just applying that E 9, and on the very end we’re applying that little 13 to loop it round, quite a fun little example here . Let’s get on to Example 3.

[guitar playing]

Alright, so there was example 3, basically a combination of Example 1 and 2. We’ve got our 9 chord, we’re playing around with that. Then we’re adding in the 13th that we saw in Example 2 there with the 9th fret of the top string.

And then on the very end, we’ve got the 5th and 7th frets of the A string, the D and the E, giving a little bit of a single note pattern there to add to the lick. We’ve also got that slide-in on the front there as well to give it that flavor.

Combining the licks above could be really, really effective. Lots of my students and people, when I teach funk, they try to do so much all at once. Just try and use these basic fundamentals, and then add them in to all of your different chord sequences.

Take an E 9 like we’ve been doing now, make it a minor 7, or any other chords you’re doing. Add in slides, add in these techniques that we’ve been looking at here today, and hopefully you can start to build a core foundational element to all of your funk playing.

I really hope you enjoyed today. Come back next time for more videos. Take care. See you soon.

Hi everyone, thanks for watching this Introduction to Funk part 2, Fundamental Changes. I really hope you’ve got something from it. Please subscribe, as we upload videos every week to inspire you in your playing.

Go and check out Joseph’s website, Fundamental Changes, his books on Amazon that are fantastic, and go and have a look at my YouTube channel too, SDPguitar for way more free guitar videos to inspire you in your playing.

Take care. I’ll see you next time.