Best Guitars For Funk
To play funk correctly you need the guitar to be spot on. With other types of music the sound is made up of an overall combination of sound created by many different instruments. Funk is different, in fact funk is unique, it relies on the guitar chugging out that funky sound.
Funk is full of clean, crisp notes all emanating from the guitar, that’s why the choice of guitar is essential in creating a great funky track. Not just the guitar, the secret is the pickups.Single coil pickups work best for playing funk. Also P-90s do well for funk too, because of their bright, chunky sound.
Funk came about from a group of artists playing those big hollow bodied guitars that were so popular during the 60s. In the right hands those guitars created a series of sounds that we now associate with funk.
In essence there is no “best “ guitar for funk, because any guitar can create that funky sound, it’s just some are easier to achieve that sound with than others. We’re not necessarily advising you to change your guitar, we’re merely trying to assist you to create your own funky sound. So here are a few suggestions to create that authentic funky sound.
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Funk Guitar Buyers Guide
Here are a few points to consider before committing to any particular model of guitar. There are 3 important factors that need to be considered before choosing a guitar for funk.
3 Things To Create The Funk Factor
- A comfortable, easy to play neck
The neck should be thin enough to get your hand around, and flat enough that the strings remain flush to the fretboard.
- A clean sweet sound
The pickups should ring with that sharp, sweet , crisp note all through the scales.
- Easy to play rhythms
Funk is all about the tone and the rhythm, you need a guitar that makes it easy to achieve.
The Guitar Needs Low Action
A low action allows you to play chords effortlessly. With just enough pressure to ring clear without causing any buzzing.
Get The Right Pickups
Funk is all about the tone of the notes ringing out. That tone is achieved through using the correct pickups,humbuckers are for the most part, excellent pickups, but they don’t work so well with funk. Humbuckers are not bright and clear enough, they tend to be almost, too good for playing funk.
Many funkmasters use single coil pickups, they seem to have the cleanest, brightest tone which is just what funk needs. The main criticism with single coil pickups, is they lack sustain, which makes them the ideal choice for funk (which likes clean, fresh sharp notes).
The Pickups most suitable for funk guitar playing are P-90s. P-90s are far brighter than humbuckers but richer than single coil pickups. If you can imagine the perfect cross between a single coil- and a humbucker, it would be the P-90.
How Much Will A Guitar Suitable For Funk Cost?
There is no right or wrong guitar for playing funk, it all comes down to personal choice, Jimmy Nolen who has been nicknamed the first guitarist of funk, played many guitars including, a Gibson ES-175, an ES-5 Switchmaster and a Gibson Les Paul. These guitars are priced at around anywhere between £300.00 to £3,600.00 depending on the model and age you choose. But that’s not important, go for a decent copy and save a bundle. As long as the pickups are right and the action is sweet, the guitar will be fine.
If you fancy a Fender try a Squier, they are much cheaper and often nearly as good. If Gibson is your thing, go for Epiphone there are many Epiphone guitars being successfully played by decent guitarists worldwide.
How To Play Funk
Funk is so much more than chords and melody. It’s about muting strings and hitting the strings with the right amount of percussion. Yes you place your hands in chord shapes on the strings, but you don’t actually play the whole chord, you hit 2 or maybe 3 strings whilst the chord hand acts as a muting tool. Many funky tracks use the 9th and the 13th chord position but there is no hard and fast rule.
Funk is all about playing a short melody and emphasising with muted chord shapes, whilst keeping the beat. The point is funk is not so much about the equipment, it’s about the feel and the sound. A Fender Strat is a great all round Funk guitar but so are many others.
What Effects Do You Need To Play Funk?
There are 3 popular pedals when it comes to funk, they are:
- Wah Pedal
The wah pedal is employed to create that “whacka-Whacka” sound while muting the strings and adding to the percussion.
Phasers are used in conjunction with funky rhythm playing and clear crisp notes. They give the musical piece more body, allowing the sound to stand out.
- Compression Pedal
Using a compressor while palm muting helps to lower the increased volume associated with muting and percussive movement. Compression will also brighten the sound making it crisper.
What Type Of Amp Is Best For Funk?
The type of amp is unimportant, what is important is the clear crisp tone the amp will produce. The other thing to remember is it has to be loud enough for concert work.
Do Guitar Strings Matter For Funk?
Many funk players use light gauge strings,this is because they are better for bending and palm muting. Try either .009 to .0042 gauge or .0010 to .0048 gauge strings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Telecasters are a good choice for funk, clear crisp tones, ideal.
Mixolydian is commonly used in funk songs.
Funk was at its most popular during the 70s.