Fender Play LIVE: Learn Funk Guitar & Bass: James Brown to Parliament | Fender Play | Fender
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Fender Play LIVE: Learn Funk Guitar & Bass: James Brown to Parliament | Fender Play | Fender

December 2, 2019


[ELECTRIC HUMMING] [BEEPING] [MUSIC PLAYING] [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC PLAYING] [LAUGHS] Yeah, man. [APPLAUSE] Guys, hello. And welcome to Fender Play Live. I’m your host, Scott Goldbaum. And this week, we’re
giving you a crash course in all things funk. We’re going to be covering
tones, techniques, and playing through some
classic funk tunes as well. So if you have any
questions, make sure to drop them in
the comments section and we’ll try to answer them. Let’s get to it. To help me out, please welcome
one of my favorite instructors we’ve got on our
docket, Pete Griffin. [APPLAUSE] Hi, everybody. What’s up, y’all? Pete, I could just read
the teleprompter, as far as your list of
accolades is concerned. OK. So I’m going to go do that. OK. [LAUGHS] No, I don’t
know that I have to. You’ve shared the stage with
so many incredible players in such a range of genres, man. You’re in this crazy supergroup
with Zach Wylde, Steve Vai. And it’s just kind of
amassed to this crazy– I knew you from
Zappa plays Zappa, from Hanson back in the day. Yep, way back then. Yeah, man. And we’re super
fortunate to have you as one of our core
instructors bringing our bass paths to life. So thank you for coming in. It’s been too long that we’ve
done a bass session like this. Yeah, this is great. I’m so psyched to
be a part of this. And funk is truly in my veins. So this is kind of what
I grew up on playing. Even though I play all
this other rock and roll and metal and stuff, I really
come from a funk background. So I’m psyched to
be able to do that. Dude, honestly, I’ve sat
in a lot of your sessions, and it’s fun to see you kind
of carrying that James Taylor torch, not in terms
whatsoever of style. But he’s the type of guy
who walks into a room and refuses to not play
a guitar if it’s there. And in between takes, I just
see you doing the most second nature eccentric stuff. So it’s so cool to
have you with us today. So thanks so much for
being a part of that. And what have you got? What are you playing today? What do did bring here? I brought my own
bass this time. It’s a little beat up. But it’s a Japanese Fender,
actually, from the ’90s. But it’s super lightweight. I was a Fender jazz bass
layer for a long, long time. And then I got this bass
and just loved the way it dominates the low end. And now I mostly
play P basses, which is perfect for the funk
stuff, because that’s what a lot of those guys were using. Brilliant. Well, prove it. Let me hear a little bit of
something if you don’t mind. All right. [BASS GUITAR PLAYING] Just immediate stank face. It’s so good. Now, guys, expect more of that. We’ve got a lot of funk
essentials to talk about today. But first we’re going to start
off jamming on something. And because of Fender
Play, we’re not only offering a ton of
guitar lessons, but we also have an
entire funk curriculum, or what we like to call
our path for bass guitar. So let’s do something we can
play on both instruments. How about the James Brown
classic “I Got You,” better known as “I Feel Good”? Couldn’t be a
better place to start. I’ll follow your
lead, brother. One, two, three. [MUSIC PLAYING] [APPLAUSE] What a way to christen
the funk session, man. That was cool. So that’s a great way of
catalyzing this conversation. You tell me, what are a couple
of characteristics, some things that define funk to you? Well, it’s really hard to say. It’s one of those things where
so many people have so many different approaches to it. But you kind of know
it when you feel it. It’s really more about
a vibe than any sort of technical thing. But a way to break it
down is, a lot of times, there’s a lot less
notes being played. It’s more about the
spaces between the notes. A lot of times, the rhythm
section is a little bit more forward. It’s a lot more important
in the mix and everything– Totally. –for the groove. And in some ways,
the guitar winds up being a backup to
the bass, rather than the other way around, like
it is on so much other music. So that’s kind of a
good way to start. It’s more about just getting
people to groove and dance. But then it also
breaks a lot of rules. It does. We were just talking about that. Without getting too
technical, there are times where I’m playing
a dominant seventh chord and you’re outlining
the major seventh. So there’s dissonances
that are almost encouraged. Which is technically
wrong, but it sounds amazing. So who’s to say
that that’s wrong? 100%. No, it’s cool. My favorite bass lesson
video of all time is Bootsy Collins’s 40-second
video where he’s just– and that’s actually a
pretty notable quality, is that there’s
a lot of emphasis on the one, right– that
downbeat– and then everything in between. If you guys haven’t
seen this, check it out. It’s really great. I’ve got to check it out. Yeah, it’s so good. It’s just so undeniable. Big, quick win. And you’ll see, you have a lot
of these anthemic songs where we know all the
melodies, but it’s not the focal point of the tune. It’s so much about flipping
in so many ways what you demonstrated. We have a lot of
videos that are built around how the bass and the
guitar relate to one another. And it’s kind of
backwards when it comes to applying it to funk. Because you’re not just
in support and playing the root notes and the harmonies
of the chord progression. I’m finding myself–
and I have to kind of be a student of yours today–
like you said, play a lot less, and also focus on staccato,
short strums, no reverb, super dry. Yeah, and just making sure
you put everything rhythmically where you want it
to be and all that. And understand that we’re going
to be playing different parts. And they kind of need
to weave together in this larger structure. Well, that’s a great segue
into what the next song that’s on our docket is all about. So bass is a major
driving force in funk. Let’s play a tune that
really demonstrates that. Let’s check out “Express
Yourself” by Charles Wright Right on. Cool. I’ll follow your lead. One, two, three, four. [MUSIC PLAYING] That’s awesome. Nice. [APPLAUSE] Love it. So if you’re somebody who’s
never played or listened to funk before, you
might be asking yourself, where do I begin? I’m a pretty good
candidate for that, man. I love a lot of the genres
that have derived from funk or that are
complementary to funk. And it’s kind of funny, too,
because when you do deep dive sessions into these
genres, it’s really weird to see how many
techniques are shared– common threads, from
even country to funk. When we talk about like
minimal playing, quick– [GUITAR PLAYING] –that’s country
technique for me. When I’m thinking
of hybrid picking and having some palm
muting going on, where you’re kind of
spanking the strings, doing some chicken-picking
stuff, the way that applies is so cool. So to see the eligibility
of a country player to make their way into funk or– Oh, absolutely. –or funk just essentially
becoming progressive music, jazz, stuff like that,
it’s really, really cool. But what are some
important central tenants of playing funk in your mind. For bass, a lot of
it is about keeping your notes nice and short. That’s what’s kind of
so funky about stuff, is that it’s super syncopated,
and staccato, and everything kind of linking together. And that’s really important
for the guitar parts too. Because then it all kind
of winds up being the same. And like I said
before, really making sure that if something is
on an upbeat or downbeat, you’re really nailing it
and you’re really putting it where you want it
to be, no matter what technique you’re
using, whether you’re using a pick or fingers
or slap or whatever. Dude, you’re so right. Sometimes it can be more
difficult to be intentional when you’re playing
fewer things, when you’re playing
more minimally. Yeah, absolutely. And then what are some
notable bands, some artists, from your vantage
point, to get into? Oh, jeez. The ones we’ve covered
already, James Brown– Sly and the Family Stone,
I’m a huge, huge fan of. Parliament and Funkadelic,
which are two different bands, but there’s a lot of the
same people involved. The Meters– rest
in Art Neville. Some of the greatest
stuff, The Meters are the catalyst for all this. Yeah, George Porter Jr.
is one of the best bass players of all time. Yeah, man. Easily. Well, brilliant. Well, guys, we’ve been talking
a lot about how important bass is in funk music and
how bass can essentially lead the band, which
means that the bass needs to cut through and be
heard over everything else. But there’s a couple
ways to make that happen. So let’s head to Chelsea in the
studio for this week’s Insider. Check it out. PETE GRIFFIN: Right on. [BASS GUITAR PLAYING] Hey, I’m Chelsea, a
touring and recording bassist and one of your Fender
Play instructors. When you hear the
world’s best funk bands, from James
Brown to Stevie Wonder, from Tower of Power to
Sly and the Family Stone, one thing they all have in
common is amazing bass tone. Let’s dig in to the
different elements that create a great
funk bass tone and how we can achieve
them using just our amp and our instrument. Today, I’m playing a
Fender Mustang bass through a Rumble 100 amplifier. A lot of funk bassists switched
between Fender Precision basses and Fender Jazz basses
throughout their careers. So that’s why I love
playing funk on a Mustang. It has both precision
and jazz pickups, and a separate tone knob, which
gives you tons of versatility to play lots of
different styles. Here’s what it sounds
like with a neutral EQ. [BASS GUITAR PLAYING] What makes funk bass so
unique is that the tone cuts through the entire band. You can still hear the bass
over all the horns and vocals. So to create that
effect, we want to get our tone as
trebly as possible. On a bass, all the treble
happens over this back pickup. So we’ll turn that all
the way up in our EQ and keep our fingers over
that pickup while we play. If you have a Mustang,
this back tone knob gives a serious boost
to our treble EQ too. Here’s what that sounds like. [BASS GUITAR PLAYING] Now, we are still
playing the bass. We have to lay down the
foundation for the entire band. So we don’t want our tone
to get too thin or trebly. To help with that, we can turn
to our Rumble 100 amplifier. I like to turn my bass
knob up to around 3:00 to get that fat,
percussive sound. I keep the mids at
around 12 to keep my tone warm and substantial. And then I boost my treble just
a bit on the amp as well, also to around 3:00. Let’s hear the difference there. [BASS GUITAR PLAYING] Now we have a great start
to a funk tone on bass. And these same exact
settings even work for slap. Slap technique came
about when bassists wanted to mimic the groove
of a drum set on bass. So we use a slap to copy
the bass drum sound– [BASS SLAPS] –and a pop to copy
the snare drum sound. [BASS POPS] To get these sounds, we’re going
to keep our same EQ settings, but move our rhythm hand
closer to the fingerboard. Also, having roundwound strings
is really important for slap. The metal strings make
everything super percussive. And the treble boost EQ
brings all of that out too. [BASS GUITAR PLAYING] If you want to check out some
incredible funk bass playing, be sure to listen to the
guys who started it all. First up, Bootsy Collins– he played with bands like
James Brown and Parliament. Then there’s Larry Graham
from Sly and the Family Stone. He’s credited with
inventing slap bass. And finally, James Jamerson,
the great Motown bassist who played on thousands
of albums, including ones from Stevie Wonder
and the Jackson 5. These are just the basics of
how to achieve a great funk sound using the EQ on your
instrument and your amplifier. Of course, you can
get into more details of your sound by boosting
certain elements with pedals and effects, like more
compression or even a funky envelope filter. But remember that guys like
Bootsy, Larry Graham, and James Jamerson, didn’t have
any of that stuff. They started playing funk right
after the electric bass was invented. So if all you have is
your bass and an amp, you’re in fantastic shape to
become a great funk bassist. We have an entire funk
bass path on Fender Play. So if you want to
learn more, head there to learn some of my
favorite songs and grooves. Happy practicing, and I’ll
see you on Fender Play. [BASS GUITAR PLAYING] SCOTT GOLDBAUM: Come on. So good. Chelsea. [APPLAUSE] She’s incredible. She’s incredible. Another one of our
amazing teachers. Great touring musician. Incredible studio player, too. Chelsea, thank you for that. That was awesome. Now, during that Insider,
we got a question from one of our viewers. Pete Griffin, another
by the name of Griffin, or last name of Griffin,
has a question for you. And it’s, any tips on
how to get the fingers on your fretting hand
to stretch out flat so you can fret
the notes better? Yeah, unfortunately
that’s one of the hardest things about learning
how to play bass, is getting your
fingers to go that way. Nothing else in the world
really makes your hand do that. But I do this exercise
everyday where you try to keep one
finger per fret, and you keep adding and
subtracting fingers. So when my pinky is down,
my first finger is down too. And that builds the strength,
so that when your pinky is down, your whole hand is holding
this big chunky string. And then obviously, as the
frets get closer together, it gets easier and easier. So it’s just much harder
in the bottom of the neck. So you’ve just got
to keep practicing. That’s cool. Yeah, incentive to
kind of start and then take it up a half
step at a time. Exactly. That’s what I like to
do literally everyday. That’s great, man. Keep that wrist dropped and
keep working on it, man. Thanks for that question. Yeah, great. All right, so we’ve been
talking about funk guitar and funk bass. Let’s jam on
another classic song that you can learn
on Fender Play. In fact, all of these songs are
on our Fender Play platform. Awesome. So check out this next one. What have we got here? We’re going to give up the funk? Is that cool? Yep, yep. I’ll follow your lead, man. Otherwise known as “Tear
the Roof off the Sucker.” There it is. One, two, three. [MUSIC PLAYING] There it is, man. Nice. [APPLAUSE] Oh, man. It’s crazy. I’ve got to break some habits. I’m noticing my instinct to
do a bunch of legato stuff when we’re jamming, just
hammer-ons and stuff like that. And what’s cool is, as
I’m, again, becoming more of a candidate to
play along with you, I’m learning a lot
about dead notes. [GUITAR PLAYING] Oh, Yeah, that little thing
in between those notes. Yeah, man, to kind
of compensate for that. Well, so what’s the origin of
applying slap bass to the bass guitar, as far as trying to
get those percussive elements? Well, yeah, I mean,
it’s like Chelsea said. Larry Graham is credited
with inventing it, because he was playing
with his mom in church, and their drummer
didn’t show up. SCOTT GOLDBAUM: There it is. So they needed to have some
sort of percussive sound to it. So he started recreating the
kick drum with his thumb, and then kind of the
snare drum with the slap. And so the same thing. [BASS GUITAR PLAYING] SCOTT GOLDBAUM: There it is. [GUITAR PLAYING] That’s cool, man. I’ve got a lot to learn. That’s really, really
fun to play, though. Yeah, again, it just goes back
to mixing a lot of techniques that are crossing genres. That’s awesome, man. We got another question
in from Rachel Buchanan. She’s asking, when I
play “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry,
I can do the notes, but it doesn’t sound funky. How can I tweak my rhythm
to get a funky sound? I think it’s kind of a
serendipitous question, actually. Yeah. It’s getting back to keeping
them nice and tight and short. Yeah, yeah. Start with that. And it’s kind of cool that,
if your fret hand, Rachel– or maybe Raquel. Maybe I’m pronouncing
that wrong. But if your fret hand
is focusing on accuracy, then you’ve got a
great blueprint. So now just kind
of shift the focus to your rhythm hand or your
strum head, in a sense, and just start with shorter
notes, shorter approach, maybe muting those
strings more intentionally in between each hit. And that goes for bass
and guitar, I would say. Yeah. That’s a great question. All right, well, we’ve got
to end on a super funky note. And there’s nothing
funkier than “What Is Hip” by Tower of Power. So why don’t you get us
started with that one, man? I’ll follow your lead. Cool. Two, three. [MUSIC PLAYING] Yeah, man. [APPLAUSE] Give it up for
Pete Griffin, y’all. Thank you. Give it up for Scott. I hope 100% of that camera
work was on this guy’s hands. So let’s talk about
some techniques that are specific to funk. We kind of just talked
a little bit about slap, and that was a really
cool application for the previous song. But what’s going on
in that song, man? Well, this is all about Rocco
Prestia and his 16th-note bass playing. Precision, man. Yeah, it’s ridiculous–
and all those little fills, and, really, what I was talking
about before about putting every note right
where you want it. He knows exactly
which 16th note, whether it’s an up or
a down or whatever. It’s really incredible. It’s a great study, that whole
song, just to go through it. Yeah, when you dive into
it, I know you can see it’s actually pretty intentional
all the way through there. Exactly. That’s what’s so amazing. It sounds like it’s
something he’s just kind of pulling off as he’s doing. But no, it really seems like
it’s all planned and fits perfectly with what
the horns are doing, what the drums are doing. It’s really incredible. Well, Pete, I
think you’re going to be solely responsible
for this next piece. Let’s give a shoutout to one
of our viewers, Molly Grams. She said that this might be her
favorite “Fender Play Live.” Great advice, my friend. You’re the bearer
of all that said. So thanks for saying. We appreciate that feedback. Thank you, Molly. Thanks for watching, Molly. Right on. Guys, you can
learn all this stuff. You can learn all these
riffs on Fender Play. So check it out for free
and see what you can learn. Now let’s get to some homework. We’ve got three different tiers. We try to encourage
everybody who’s watching, especially all you guys in
our Fender Facebook community. So we’ll start with
the beginner tier. Now, if you’re a beginner,
try playing that guitar riff from “I Feel Good,”
that James Brown thing we were doing earlier. [GUITAR PLAYING] Start at half-speed. That’s a loaded lesson. But that’s a really
great starting point. What do you think for
our intermediate players? Do another thing
nice and slow. We’ll do the baseline
from “Express Yourself,” but try that at half-speed,
where it’s just– [BASS GUITAR PLAYING] And just once again,
we’re making sure we put those notes right
where we want them. Yeah. I think, sometimes, we get
really excited, especially when I was starting to learn slap
bass and stuff like that, or any sort of technique that
was just requiring speed. It was not about putting the
notes where I wanted them too. It’s not rhythmic accuracy. Yeah, it’s just an explosion. And I think that you can kind
of take a step back and refine that approach. So if you guys
are starting again with the accuracy
and the fret hand, shift your emphasis and
attention to your strum hand and you’ll be in
really good shape. And don’t characterize
it by urgency. Don’t rush the tempo
on these songs. Yeah. And then if you’re looking
to really blow our minds, try and tackle the bass
line from “What is Hip.” It’s all 16ths all
the way through. Once again, you can start
trying a little bit slower. That’s how I learn everything. You try it at 70% tempo
and then slowly move it up. But just keeping that
going– and it’s not– [BASS GUITAR PLAYING] It’s all muted and stuff. It’s real tricky. But if you can get it,
it’s an amazing technique to add to your whole repertoire. Dude, awesome. Pete, what else is
good with you, man? It’s been so good
having you on here? Do you have anything
forthcoming? Another Generation X tour. We’re going back to Asia. It just got announced. So that’ll be fun. Yeah, guys. Tune in. Check it out. In fact, do you
guys have something that you’ve already released? Yeah, the live
album just came out. Yeah, awesome. Yeah, that is as much
of a superstar group as I’ve ever heard. I think it’s
called “The Guitars That Destroyed the World.” OK, that sounds good. I believe that’s
the name of the album. If ever there were a time. That’s great. I love it. Yeah, exactly. Tune in, you guys. It’s awesome. And in the meantime, we’ve
arrived at the moment y’all have been waiting for,
the Fender Play giveaway. Now, every week, a lucky
Fender Play subscriber has a chance to win
a free piece of gear just for watching a video. If you win, you can choose
from a list of guitars, basses, acoustics, amps, ukuleles. And it’s announced
only on this show. So make sure to tune in. Without further ado, please
welcome the one and only Maddie. [APPLAUSE] Hello, everyone. All right, so this week’s
winner is– drum roll, please– Nelson A.! Nelson A.! All right. Congrats, Nelson. So please make
sure to check back next week to see if you won. And check the link in
the video description for giveaway details. We’ll see you next week. Awesome. Maddie, always the
bearer of great news. Thank you so much. Congrats, Nelson. I just learned that
they get crazy prizes. It’s not like a free strap. Yeah, where’s mine? Yeah, we’ve got
to change our jobs and get on the other
side of things. We’ve got some community
shoutouts for this week. Anthony S. Johnson
posted for the first time in our community. And he’s been playing
for six months. He’s only been playing
for six months. And he posted not only a
video of him performing, as in playing, but also singing
an awesome version of “Amazing Grace.” Great job, Anthony. Hope to hear more from you. And again, I talk about
this all the time. You never know who you’re going
to be a role model for when it comes to just trying it out. And I’ve got to
say, our community is the most positive ensemble
of social media I’ve ever seen. That’s kind of amazing. Yeah, it is kind of amazing. Anthony, thanks for
doing that, man. Speaking of
positive and amazing, Donald Dobbins built a
guitar for his granddaughter, which is amazing in itself. But what’s even cooler is, he
called it the “Brat-ocaster.” The “Brat-ocaster.” I kind of love that. I kind of want my
own “Brat-ocaster.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So thanks for
sharing that, Donald. Yeah, get in
contact with us, man. Yeah, really. When I’m a parent,
I’ll get a “Brat-ocaster” lined up through you. That all goes to say that
we’ve got some new updates and additions to the
site this week too. So “Cherry Bomb,” The
Runaways– it’s about time. We’ve got that. That’s a great tune to learn,
and it’s a great lesson too. So check that one out. I’ll let you talk
about these next two. On the other end
of the spectrum, we have “Both Sides Now” by
Joni Mitchell, which is just a beautiful tune by her,
and then Robert Cray’s blues extravaganza “Right Next Door.” Yeah, guys, a
lot on the docket. So we’re always funnelling
through new material. Tune in every week to find more. I cannot thank Pete enough
for coming through, man. My pleasure. Seriously, it’s
always good to have you. And I feel like you’ve
got this bass in here. We don’t get to
see you too often. Can you just jam a little
bit more for the audience? They seem to be digging that. All right, sure. [BASS GUITAR PLAYING] All right, on
the heels of that, I want to emphasize
one thing, and that’s to take your time practicing. You just a pro tip. Whenever he learn
something new, you’re always making it a point to slow
things down and build it up. And that’s something to
aspire to right there, guys. So keep practicing. And we’ll see for
more next time. Let’s hit that G. All right. Peace, guys. [MUSIC PLAYING]

Only registered users can comment.

  1. That woman with the mustang really got an awful tone… Those string noises and unnatural high ends are painful.
    that P-bass tone was perfect !

  2. It would be time to make disco funk and soul the KING of pop music again…earth wind and fire…kc and sunshine band…daft punk….jamiroquai…brand new heavies….brothers johnson…cerrone…chic…gap band…kool and the gang….level 42…and many other incredible artists must be taken as an inspiration from new bands !!!

  3. best funk guitar player :NILE RODGERS – PAUL JACKSON JR – PRINCE best funk bass player : VERDINE WHITE – MARK KING – LOUIS JOHNSON

  4. I love funk 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😃😄😀😄😄😄😄😄😄

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