Play Funk Guitar – Lesson Seven

In today’s lesson, we are looking at octaves. Octaves provide a solid foundation for creating memorable hooks that sound fuller than their single note counterparts. Whenever you have a single note groove, try adding an octave on top of each note. This creates a totally different sound while building on something that you already know. Today we are focussing on minor keys but apply the principles to major and dominant tonalities as well.

Funk Guitar Example 1 – Am Octaves

In example one we see a simple hook based pattern around the octaves of ‘G’ and ‘A.’ I wanted to show how a simple funk guitar can be highly effective. The mutes add excitement here but remember; itis very easy to show off and add lots of mutes so make sure you don’t distract the listener from the underlying groove. Try playing this pattern over an ‘Am’ backing track.

Funk Guitar Example 2 – Em Octaves

Using octaves higher up the neck helps guitar parts cut through the mix. although this can be both beneficial or unwanted depending on the situation. I recommend this sort of guitar part where there is no vocal as it is bold and will take centre stage. Try adding in mutes where appropriate and sync it to a funk or disco drum beat.

Funk Guitar Example 3 – Am Go Crazy Octaves

Example 3 shows how to create a more complex funk guitar part using only octave shapes. This example is all about strumming hand consistency and it will require some practice before the strumming hand can play all the time while only accenting certain notes. You can either have ghost strums, where nothing is played, or you can mute the strings as shown in this example. The slides add a bluesy texture to this funk riff.

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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Guitar Lesson Video Transcription

Hey everyone, Simon here once again for Fundamental Changes. Today we’re looking at our part 7 of our Introduction to Funk Guitar. Let’s go and have a look at 3 ideas in octave shapes, just after this.

[guitar playing]

As you can probably guess there, we are looking at octaves today in our funk guitar series. There are a number of ways you can play octaves on the guitar, but the most commonly used ones in funk are on the 6th string. You’d have 5th fret, and then the 7th fret of the D string, there’s your octave shape.

That’s 2 strings down and 2 frets up. If you go down a string, the 5 and the 3 will be identical shapes. You’re going to have 5th fret on the A string, 7th fret on the G string there.

Now when you get to the D and the B, you’re going to have a 3-fret gap. You’re going to have 5th fret, and then 8th fret on the D and the B there, and then the same on the top string, 5 and 8.

You’re going to have G and the E strings 5 and 8 there. You’ve got 2 fret shapes and 3 fret shapes.

In this Example 1 here, you can see we’re just moving 1 shape just up and down 2 frets. You can slide between those as well. That can work really, really nicely. Get your groove going and make sure you’re adding in those mutes as well.

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

[guitar playing]

Here’s a higher-pitched octave example here, higher up the neck in E minor. This can be a double-edged blessing here, because it can cut through a mix really, really clearly.

Now, sometimes you want that, and sometimes you don’t. My general advice of playing this kind of funk line is, don’t play it when a vocalist is trying to sing. Otherwise you’re going to get some terrible looks. Nonetheless, it does sound fantastic when you’re setting up a groove for yourself, or an instrumental, or just a tight funk groove.

There’s one here, we’re moving back on the top string on the 3 and the 1. We’re going to go 12 on the 3rd string. I’m going to name them from 11-9-7, and then we’re going to hop up a string to the D string there, the octave shape’s staying the same, 7. Then a little 12-11-12-14 on the 3rd string, 9-9 there, resolving back to the E root note.

Quite fun, make sure you jam all of these out with some jam tracks and some backing tracks as well.

Let’s go and have a look at Example 3.

[guitar playing]

There was our Example 3, as you can tell. A little bit more in depth, a little bit more intense. This one here, I want you to just concentrate on having your strumming hand going all the time.

That is something that does take some practice. The main thing you need to work on is making sure when you’re playing or when you’re not, obviously, but with this as well, you can either have a ghost note, which is where you’re not playing anything, or you can mute the string, or you can fret it,that’s 3 different things you can have here.

The majority of the time here, we are just either muting the string to get that lovely muted sound, or we are fretting all these octaves with these little slides, this 1 fret slide, making it sound quite bluesy as well.

We’re using 2 different shapes here as well, all around this A blues type feel over this solid soul-y funky drum track. Take your time with it, slow it down, keep the consistency of your strumming hand going at all times, as you can see in the slowed down version of this. Make sure you play along with that to keep the feel nice and tight and steady, but slowed down as well.

Slow it – speed it up gradually. Don’t go too fast at the time. I’ll see you next time for some way more funky videos. Take care. I’ll see you soon.

Hi guys, I hope you enjoyed this Mastering Your Octaves lesson for funk guitar. Please subscribe to this channel; we bring you videos every week. Go and have a look at Joseph’s books on Amazon and his website Fundamental Changes in Guitar, and come and have a look at my YouTube channel, SDPguitar for way more free videos every week.

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