Play Guitar Like Nile Rodgers

In this lesson, we are checking out three guitar licks in the style of the funk legend, Nile Rodgers. Nile Rodgers is perhaps the most prolific guitarist and producer in funk history. He has worked with Chic, Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, David Bowie and recently topped the charts with Daft Punk. He has an instantly recognisable style of playing. It combines rhythmic precision and accuracy, and a groove that always packs out a dance floor. Today we are looking at his use of barre chords, triads and open strings. Get these new ideas down and remember whoever says, “Rhythm playing is boring,” isn’t doing it right!

Nile Rodgers Guitar Example 1 – Classic Funk Chord Sequence

Nile Rodger’s often favours minor and major 7th chords in his playing. In this example we start of by using some hammer-ons and additions to F#m7 and C#m7. In bars three and four, we use major 7th chords and some subtle slides to add a funky sound. Remember with all these examples today it is all about the groove. Make sure you are bang in time and practice with a metronome and a funk style backing track or drum track.

Nile Rodgers Guitar Example 2 – Open String Funk Riff

Open strings are often neglected. They make a really cool and interesting variation when creating a new sounding riff. This riff uses palm muting, alternate picking in the key of G minor. The main reason a riff like this is so catchy are the rests in between the notes. Often it is the space you allow between each phrase that makes a normal riff sound very memorable.

Nile Rodgers Example 3 – Combining Barre Chords and Triads

Nile Rodgers’ command of chords is so wide and varied. In this example, there is a combination of big barre chords and mini triads. The combination of the two allows more freedom than always restricting yourself to one or the other.

Recommended listening

For classic Nile Rodgers style guitar licks, I recommend buying the album “The Very Best Of Chic.” My favourite track on that album being “Le Freak.”

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Guitar Lesson Video Transcription

Hi guys, Simon here once again for Fundamental Changes. Today we’re looking at the unbelievable talent of Nile Rodgers. Let’s go and check out a few of his licks next.

[guitar playing]

We’re getting pretty funky here already with Example 1. We start off up around F sharp minor 7, which is the 9th fret with your A minor bar chord without the little finger. We’re then hammering in those 2 notes there, adding in the little finger in the 12th fret of the top string and the 2nd string, dragging that shape back down to the 4th fret for your C sharp minor 7 using the same idea, then with the 7th frets up into a D major 7 with a little addition on the top string in the 7th fret, then an A major 7, then an A major 7 up into the D shape of the same chord.

Keep your strumming hand nice and consistent, keep it going, and let’s get on to Example 2.

[guitar playing]

I believe open strings are a really neglected part of all guitar styles, but especially funk and rhythm making bits. This lick here today is around G minor. We’ve got the 5, 3, and open on the D or the 4th string, and the 5, 3, and open on the 3rd string.

What makes this lick really, really cool is the little rests between each of the notes here. It’s not so much the notes themselves, it’s the little gaps remembering that space is really, really important in building your own riffs. Let’s go and have a look at Example 3.

[guitar playing]

A cool way to blend and mix your new rhythm-playing styles is to have big bar chord shapes, but then have triads as well, or 3-note chords, as I’ve talked about a lot in the past.

This example is around E minor, or E minor 7 at the start here. We go through a little B minor 3-note triad with this root note. 3 B flat minor into A minor, then we’ve got some cool – a little 3 shaped G into a little G shaped C, and then back to your E minor first bit all the way through. Then we’ve got a Dsus2 chord there which is your A minor without your middle finger.

This is quite a little fun example. Again, consistency with the right hand is really crucial. I really hope you’ve enjoyed these, and I’ll see you next time for more videos in this style.

Hi everyone, thanks for watching these licks in the style of Nile Rodgers. I really hope you’ve got something from it. Please go on over and check out Joseph’s website Fundamental Changes.

Have a look at his books on Amazon, and come and have a look at my YouTube, SDPguitarfor more free guitar videos. See you next time.