Making Music with Marshall

Playing styles


Posted: 29 September 2020

Funk is a genre that has been adopted in all forms of major music. Although the genre is synonymous with tight drums and powerful bass-lines, the guitar has played a very crucial role in its development. We’re going to talk through the history, playing technique and gear used in funk.

Read time - 2 mins

Playing Style

The guitar has always played a major role in funk music, heavily syncopated parts with interesting rhythms are paramount. A lot of parts will revolve around one chord and jazz/blues improvisation isn’t as commonplace in funk guitar. James Browns’ guitarist Jimmy Nolen would use 16th note strumming patterns and triad chords that are great for chord inversions and don’t muddy up the overall sound too much. This style was later adopted by funk guitar legend Nile Rodgers in his band Chic.


In terms of gear, funk guitar is primarily very clean, common gear used is a compressor pedal for fast attack and that classic ‘chukka chukka’ rhythm. Funk guitarists would commonly plug their guitar straight into the desk, but an amplifier with plenty of headroom and a great clean tone is essential.

Further listening

We've created a playlist featuring a selection of Funk music, along with tracks that have strongly influenced what Funk music is today. This showcases you some of the early Funk artists, such as James Brown and George Clinton, along with modern funk music, helping you to track how these iconic playing styles have influenced a huge range of music.

Listen to the full playlist here or take a look below for a quick selection.