Amongst his other musical gifts, Nile Rodgers is an all-time great rhythm guitar player, but if you want to get to the heart of why, you need to consider the two worlds he combines…
“I come from a jazz background..." Niles Rodgers told Total Guitar. "When I started playing I had a teacher named Ted Dunbar who was Wes Montgomery’s roommate at school. The philosophy of Ted and Wes was no matter how well you solo, you have to be able to play chords because jazz is built on harmony. So what Ted used to do was teach me to play chords in sets of three strings to define their sound and function.
"Also, Bernard [Edwards, Chic bassist] showed me how to play great R&B by keeping your hand in one position and playing on sets of two or three strings," added Niles. You can define the harmony and play melodies without even moving. Although I consider myself a jazz player, when I play R&B it's with this fusing from Ted and Bernard.
To get us started, here's five chord shapes for an authentic Nile Rodgers sound. Then we'll use some of them in a lesson workout.
Our tab example below shows how Nile plays simple two- and three-note chords with his trademark choppy rhythm style.
The key is to hold down the full chord shapes and keep your strumming hand going up and down like a metronome regardless of whether you are going to strike the strings or not. Use this approach to get the feel of songs like Chic’s Le Freak and Daft Punk’s Get Lucky.
And now you're in the zone, why not try learning the riff to Get Lucky with this Total Guitar video lesson!