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Sharpen your funk chops with Cory Wong's helicopter guitar workout

(Image credit: Olly Curtis / Future)

Follow Cory Wong’s own funky ‘helicopter’ exercises and improve your picking, timing, muting and accenting skills.

“One of the exercises that I love to do is shifting accents on the 16th notes. I do an entire measure of 16th notes with accents on the downbeat. 

"Then I’ll do a measure where the accent’s on the ‘e’, then on the ‘&’, then on the ‘a’. And if I go back and forth between the downbeat, the ‘e’,the ‘&’ and the ‘a’, what it does is: downstroke accents, then it's upstroke accents, then downstroke accents, then upstroke accents.

“Then I’ll practise two beats of 16ths with the accents on the downbeat, two beats where it’s on the ‘e’, two beats where it’s on the ‘&’, two beats where it’s on the ‘a’. And then I’ll do it where it’s one beat of each. 

"So it’s just shifting the accent along the 16th-note grid to get the execution and the mind focus of it.”

Downbeat accents

For Cory’s downbeat accenting exercise pick ‘down up down up’ and keep all the notes shown with ‘X’s muted out - only the downbeats should ring out.

Accents on the ‘e’

Moving the accent along the grid, now you’ll be sounding the second note out of every four - just as Cory describes. Count ‘1 e & a’ to keep time and sound the ‘e’s.

Accents on the ‘&’

Play a run of straight 16th notes, this time with the accent on the third note out of every four. Using ‘down up’ style picking, this should be a downstroke.

Accents on the ‘a’

Hopefully you saw this coming! The fourth stage of Cory’s funk picking exercise has the accent on the fourth note of each grouping. It should be an upstroke.

Two beats on each pattern

This is where things get tough, so make sure you’ve practised each element before you get started! As Cory describes, he plays two beats of downbeat accents, then two beats on the ‘e’, two beats on ‘&’ and two beats on ‘a’. The last note of bar 2 and the first note of bar 1 are both accented - so you get two accents in a row on the repeat.

One beat on each pattern

Finally, this is the hardest part of Cory’s funk workout. You’ll be moving the accent every beat, so there’s not much time to get a feel for each four-note group. Make sure to practise slowly and keep in mind whether you should be accenting a downstroke or an upstroke.