February 4, 2024

Funky Guitar Chords To Feel the Groove

Funky guitar music, with its vibrant rhythms and distinct chord structures, has an undeniable groove that can make anyone move. Whether you're a seasoned player or just picking up the guitar for the first time, diving into the world of funky chords is a journey worth embarking on.

This article aims to guide you through the fundamental chords and techniques that form the foundation of this genre.

The Essence of Funky Guitar

Funky guitar traces its roots back to the soulful tunes of the 1960s and '70s, where rhythm took center stage, and the guitar became more than just an accompanying instrument. This genre is characterized by intricate rhythmic patterns, percussive strumming, and, most importantly, the unique chords that give funk its signature sound.

While the melodies might be simple, the groove is everything in funk. It's the syncopation, the interplay of sound and silence, and those distinct chord structures that make a funky tune truly shine.

What Are Some Fundamental Chords for Funk?

[RS+] Funky Guitar Chords to Feel the Groove SEO ARTICLE - funk fundamental chords

Delving into the world of funk, certain chord types stand out for their prevalence and importance in creating that iconic sound:

Seventh Chords

These chords, often referred to as dominant seventh chords, bring a jazzy, bluesy feel, perfect for funk. Adding the seventh note of the scale to a regular major or minor chord gives it that extra layer of depth. For instance, taking a regular G major chord and adding the F note transforms it into a G7, introducing a bluesy tension that's pure gold in funky music.

Ninth Chords

Going a step further from the seventh chords, the ninth chords add an even richer dimension. These chords include the seventh note as well as the ninth. For instance, adding an A (the ninth note) to our G7 chord gives us a G9. This chord, with its added complexity, is a staple in many funk classics.

Suspended Chords

Instead of the usual third note in a chord, suspended chords replace it with either the second or the fourth. This results in chords like Dsus2 or Dsus4, which don't resolve as neatly as major or minor chords, giving a delightful tension perfect for funky riffs.

Minor Chords & Add-ons

While funk often leans major, minor chords and their variations have their place, especially when you're looking to bring a moody or soulful vibe. Adding sevenths, ninths, or other extensions to minor chords can also bring depth and richness to your funky compositions.

As you embark on your journey into the world of funky guitar, remember that while these chords are fundamental, it's the rhythm, the groove, and the soul you pour into your playing that truly brings the funk to life.

How To Enhance Your Funk Groove

Now that you're familiar with the core chords, it's essential to fine-tune your technique. Funk is as much about how you play as it is about what you play.

Picking Hand Techniques

The rhythm and groove come alive with the picking hand. Mastering techniques like palm muting, where you use the palm of your hand to mute the strings slightly, can add a percussive, rhythmic quality to your playing. Additionally, the use of ghost notes---intentionally muted notes played in rhythm---can elevate your funky guitar lines.

Fretting Hand Muting

The fretting hand isn't just for pressing down on notes. Strategic muting with the fretting hand, especially in between chord transitions, can add a sharp, staccato feel to your riffs, enhancing the funkiness of your grooves.

What Are Some Tips for Beginners to Funk?

[RS+] Funky Guitar Chords to Feel the Groove SEO ARTICLE - tips

Embracing the world of funk can be both thrilling and challenging. Here are some pointers for those starting their funky journey:

  • Rhythm Is King: In funk, the rhythm is often more crucial than melody. Prioritize getting the groove right, even if it means simplifying chords initially.

  • Practice Makes Perfect: Funky chords and rhythms might feel unfamiliar at first. Regular practice is the key to internalizing these patterns and making them second nature.

  • Stay Positive: Don't worry if you don't get the chords right immediately. Remember, the essence of funk is the feel and groove, and with persistence, you'll be feeling the funk in no time.

  • Play With Music: Playing alongside backing tracks or playing along with songs that utilize more funky styles will help you grasp how artists have changed or utilized these chords for their styling. A great way to play along with songs is the more than 7,000 songs in the Rocksmith+ music library.

In your journey into the realm of funk guitar, always remember it's the soul and passion you infuse into your playing that truly counts. Dive in, explore, practice, and, most importantly, enjoy the groove!

What Are Some Advanced Funk Techniques?

Once you've got the basics down, consider upping the ante by introducing more advanced techniques into your funky repertoire:

Slap & Pop

Traditionally a bass guitar technique, slap and pop involves using the thumb to 'slap' the lower strings and the fingers to 'pop' the higher ones. This gives a percussive, rhythmic sound that can enhance your funky rhythm playing.

Double Stops

Playing two notes simultaneously, or double stops, can add richness to your guitar lines. This technique is especially effective in funk when used to accentuate specific beats within a rhythm.

Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

These techniques, which involve quickly pressing down or releasing a finger to sound a note, can be integrated into funk rhythms to give a smoother, more fluid sound to your riffs.

Playing funk is about the feel, and every funk artist will add their own flair and style. Don't be afraid to re-write the book a bit as you learn and create your own sound.

How To Find Your Unique Funk Voice

While learning from classics and emulating great artists, it's equally important to find your unique voice in the world of funk.

Try combining different chords, rhythms, and techniques. Explore outside of traditional funk sounds, and don't be afraid to blend genres. Dive deep into various funk sub-genres, from acid jazz to neo-soul, and see what resonates with you.

Nothing beats the experience of jamming in a group setting. The dynamics of playing with other musicians, especially a rhythm section, can elevate your understanding and feel for the groove.

Enjoy the Music

The realm of funky guitar is rich, vibrant, and deeply rhythmic. By understanding its foundational chords, mastering essential techniques, and continuously exploring, you can unlock a world of groove that brings joy to both the player and the listener. Remember, at the heart of funk is the beat, the vibe, and the soul.

For more styles and tricks to mastering and enjoying the guitar, check out Rocksmith+ and the always-growing library of knowledge.


FUNK: 1970 | The Jazz History Tree.

What Is Syncopation In Music? | Hello Music Theory

Seventh Chords | Music Theory

3 Keys to Ace Your Palm Muting | Fender

Social Share


Learning Guide

Get My Guide