How to play funk guitar – a beginner’s guide

Nile Rodgers
Nile Rodgers is a master of funk and disco rhythm (Image credit: JORGE GUERRERO / Getty)

Strumming is probably the most useful technique you’ll ever learn. About 90 per cent of what an ordinary listener considers ‘guitar playing’ involves it, and once you can do it, you’re off and running.

‘Scratching’ – strumming while choking the strings with your fretting hand – is a good way to start. Your fretting hand doesn’t have to do much, so you can concentrate on pick technique. You can hear it in Isaac Hayes’ Theme From Shaft and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.

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Jenna Scaramanga

Jenna writes for Total Guitar and Guitar World, and is the former classic rock columnist for Guitar Techniques. She studied with Guthrie Govan at BIMM, and has taught guitar for 15 years. She's toured in 10 countries and played on a Top 10 album (in Sweden).