Get funky with this quick guitar chord lesson

James Brown
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The pentatonic scale made easy with three chord shapes (opens in new tab)

Guitar skills (opens in new tab): Funk guitarists favour smaller chord voicings using fewer strings – mainly the higher pitched ones. It’s also easier to move these small shapes around more quickly to create melodic interest. 

Notice that the lowest note in each shape isn’t a root note; looking at the D chord, for example, you’ll see its lowest note is F#. Still, it’s easiest to think of it as a D chord rather than as a D/F# inversion.


(Image credit: Future)


(Image credit: Future)

Tone tips: Funk rhythm is all about compressed clean tones. Go easy on the bass and dial in more presence in the mid and treble range. Reverb adds ambience, so only add it if you want a less upfront sound.

Feel the funk 

This funk style example uses only three strings at a time, giving a focused sound and leaving space for the other instruments. 

Played over the A bass notes, the movement of the chords outlines a neat melody – primarily a funk device, but you’ll hear it on various Motown tracks, plus Prince and even Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall Pt2.

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(Image credit: Future)
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Learn 7 jazzy extended chords and use them in our lesson (opens in new tab)

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