Play Funk Guitar – Lesson Five

In the last lesson, we looked at double-stop funk lines. Today we examine the fantastic world of three-note funk. Triads are absolutely fundamental to funk guitar playing. They break up big chord shapes into little fragments that sit so well in a groove. Make sure you understand where each triad comes from, that way you can use them in any key!

Funk Guitar Example 1 – Am Triads

Example one features a classic two chord funk groove. A good place to start when applying triad chord shapes is using the ‘E’ ‘B’ and ‘G’ strings. In this example we have an ‘Am’ in the ‘Em’ shape, a ‘G’ in the ‘D’ shape and an ‘Am’ in the ‘Dm’ shape. Make sure you keep your strumming hand consistent and work on adding in the muted notes as well.

Funk Guitar Example 2 – Cm Chic Style Triads

Once again, Nile Rodgers makes an appearance. I try to create funk patterns that have a melody of their own. When you have a singable quality to your rhythm playing it makes it far more memorable to the listener. The best way to incorporate this into your playing is to add melody notes of a vocal line into your chord playing. This simple tip can have fantastic results. This example is based around ‘Cm’ demonstrates using triads of different groupings of strings.

Funk Guitar Example 3 – A7 Average White Band Triads

The point when I fell in love with funk guitar came when I heard the song ‘Cut The Cake’ by Average White Band. Up until that point, I had never heard a rhythm guitar part grab my full attention. From then on I was hooked. This example demonstrates a fun ‘A7’ vamp, using multiple shapes around the neck. Incorporating slides and hammer-ons add that sparkle to this groove.

Recommended listening

For classic Average White Band style guitar licks, I recommend buying the album “Cut The Cake/Soul Searching/Benny & Us.” My favourite track on that album being “Cut The Cake.”

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