Funk music is all about the rhythm. There is so much groove and style in Funk and most of it comes from rhythm. I'm going to show you a really cool funk rhythm. Don't bother getting your pick, you won't need it!
The Basic Motion
When you saw me playing at the beginning of the video, I was playing with fluid motion. That's the goal! But before we can get there, we're going to break each motion down.
The first is the down strum. On the down strum you'll barely graze the strings with the part of your fingers in between your second and third knuckles. You wont quite make a fist but you'll bring your fingers in. The motion will be a combination of elbow and wrist. Just brush the strings.
The up strum will be with your thumb. Just reverse the motion with your elbow and wrist. Again, just graze the strings.
Try these two motions, muting the strings with your left hand. Then form a chord, like a Am and see how it sounds.
The next motion is a left hand mute. You're going to do the down strum, release the chord with your left hand, and strum down against the muted strings. This works best with barre chords but you can do it with open chords too. Just release the tension with your left hand, keep your hand resting against the strings (without fretting), and strum.
Here's a good way to practice these three parts of the technique. Grab an Am chord, and Am barre chord works best if you can do it, but an open Am chord works too. Do the down strum and up strum while fretting the chord, then do a down strum and up strum while muting the strings. Do this with an even tempo. Start slow and really focus on the technique and your timing.
The Full Strumming Technique
This strum is going to sound complicated, but it's really not. Your right hand doesn't stop, Think of it as a machine that just keeps going. All of the variance comes with your left hand. It's controlling when the notes ring and when it's more percussive.
This here is one of the keys to Funk. You right hand just keeps going and your left hand does most of the work. The really good players will control the velocity and vary it with their right hand. But the basic premise is the same.
With that in mind, check out 3:50 in the video for a full step by step explanation of the strum pattern.
Before you leave, let me know if this was a lesson you enjoyed and if you'd like to see more lessons like this. This helps me tailor these to what's interesting to you!