“The last thing Bernard Edwards wanted to be was a bass player who used a pick”: Nile Rodgers on the funk behind Chic’s Le Freak

Bassist Bernard Edwards and Guitarist Nile Rodgers, both of the group Chic, in a recording studio, New York, New York, July 29, 1981.
(Image credit: Allan Tannenbaum/Getty Images)

Along with guitarist Nile Rodgers, the late Bernard Edwards helped define one of the most distinctive sounds of disco – the sparse, sophisticated, yet highly rhythmic groove of Chic. Much like the emergence of Sting's Police under the guise of punk, Edwards and Rodgers brought Chic out from under the glare of the disco lights to create something far more substantial and enduring. 

Such late-‘70s smashes as Good Times, Le Freak, and Everybody Dance, as well as the Chic-produced hits We Are Family and I'm Coming Out, were grounded by Edward’s 'chucking' bass technique, where he emulated holding a pick and then struck the strings with both nail and finger.

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.