Play Funk Guitar – Lesson Three – Single Notes

In this lesson, we are checking out single-note funk guitar playing. One of my favourite things about funk guitar is the amount of satisfaction you can get from playing just one note. Mutes, groove, and swing can all add up to make a simple part sound hugely effective. Today we are checking out how to create single note guitar parts to act either as the hook of your song, or to complement another guitar part.

Funk Guitar Example 1 – 16th Note Alternate Picking

As mentioned in article one sixteenth notes form the basis of a lot of funk music. Today I want to apply that to single notes. The idea of this example is what I call a “chop builder.” It gives you the needed technique to move on the write effective single note grooves. The idea is that you will become able to put a note anywhere in the bar whilst adding funky mutes all around it. Make sure you alternate pick this. That is crucial! Stick at it, this is a building block that will move your funk playing to another level.

Funk Guitar Example 2 – String Skipping

This is a classic example that became hugely popular with Michael Jackson’s album Off The Wall. By using a simple A minor pattern with a string skip, and a call and response. The addition of the mutes, a string skip and the slight chromatic run on the B string makes it appealing to the ear. The type of single note funk guitar pattern also complements the band.

Funk Guitar Example 3 – Single Note Groove

After building your ‘chops’ and getting a good foundation groove together it’s time to form a tight A minor groove. When I started playing funk, my playing was so busy. I constantly added in fancy fills and tricks. I soon realised that this didn’t add anything to the tracks I was playing and somehow took away from the tight groove. In this example, we have a simple two note pattern with mutes for three bars, then at the end of the fourth bar a nice A minor pentatonic fill. Tasty!

Recommended listening

For classic Michael Jackson single note funk guitar licks, I recommend buying the album “Off the Wall.” My favourite track on that album being “Workin’ Day and Night.”

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Guitar Lesson Video Transcription

Hi everyone, Simon here once again for Fundamental Changes. Today we’re looking at our Introduction to Funk part 3. Let’s go and have a look at those just after this.

[guitar playing]

In the past few lessons we’ve been looking at chords, we’ve been looking at the dominant 9 chord, and in alterations of that. Today we’re going to start on single note funk lines. These are a little bit more tricky, and will take a little bit more work.

Example 1 there you saw, was all around just a root note of A, and what you’re doing is each individual example, you are moving what note you play through the 16th note. We’ve got our 1 e & a, 2 e & a, 3 e & a, 4 e & a. Example 1 is playing on the 1, and then 3 mutes for the 1 e & a. The e & as are all muted of all the beats.

You’re going to get 1 e & a muted, 2 e & a muted, 3 e & a muted, etc., 4 e & a muted, but on the 3 and the 4 you’re playing.

We’ve got a little A minor lick here, we’ve got the 7th and the 5th frets on the 4th strings – the D string – just like a root note, and the flat 7 or the minor 7, depending on how you like to phrase it with some little mute.

Then we’ve got a string skip up to the flat 7 and the octave on the 2nd string, the 8th and the 10th on the B, and then we do a little chromatic run through the 9th, and then we go back and we do it 10-9-8. First way’s 8-9-10, second way is 10-9-8. Adding in check out the tab for little additions in the mutes, and once again you’re keeping this hand consistent, and now you got a little string skip to make it sound a little bit more to be creative. Let’s get on to Example 3.

[guitar playing]

I’ve mentioned in a couple of my other videos here on this, that the most important thing to funk is all about the groove. It’s all about sitting tight with the bass and the drums and your funk electric guitar part is going to sit over the top of them, and create this real gel.

Often, people like to dance around there, adding in fills left, right, and center. Things are kicking off, and that can sound cool, but when I hear that in a band – my students start kicking off with that –it can detract from the underlying groove.

Example 3 here today demonstrates how I might create a pattern for the basses of a track. Starts off with basically just again, around A minor, the 7th fret of the 4th(your A), and the 5th fret (your G) on the D string – the root the flat 7th – and you’re going between them with a very consistent 16th note pattern, as we’ve been looking at throughout all these examples.

On the 4th time through we get a fill where we’re sliding 7 to 9 on the G, grabbing the 8th on the B string, sliding back the way you came 9 to 7, double pull off 7-5, and then grabbing the root note, and that loops around.

As you can tell, these are playing with the drum track, so you can see how they’d sink in. You can see how it’s only on my 4th time through this pattern without my adding in a fill. Maybe at the end of every 8 bars, or at the end of each chunk of your song, but the majority of it you’re going to try and nail down some single-note, tight, funky grooviness.

I hope that gives you some new ideas. Keep your picking consistent, keep it alternate, just keep it going through the strings with 16th notes. Any questions or comments, please leave it in the section below. Joseph and I really love giving out these videos to inspire you in your playing.

Take care, and I’ll see you next time for way more funky videos. See you next time.

Hi everyone, thanks for watching this video on Introduction to Funk part 3. As I always say, I really hope you got something from it, please subscribe, check out Joseph’s website Fundamental Changes, and all of his awesome books.

Come on over and look at my channel SDPguitar, where I bring you way more free guitar videos to inspire you in your playing. I’ll see you next time for way more funky videos.

Take care. Bye.