Bass Guitar Lesson - Beginning Funk by Chris McCarvill

 Rock House Instructor Chris McCarvill, who just went out on  The House of Lords 2009 European Tour left us with cool beginner bass guitar lesson on funk.

We strongly suggest you use a a metronome or drum machine for this one.

Funk’s barely controlled, bubbling energy attacked me at a young age. I liked the music before I understood that it was the bass creating this high-tension groove thing. Once I began dissecting the music, I realized exactly how cool funk bass is and how talented its pioneers are. The bass takes on a dominant role in funk, which is also the godfather of disco, rap, hip-hop, dance and a lot of techno types of music. Learn to funk and suddenly everything you play sounds great.

Example #1

Audio (Funk Slapping)

Now, with your fretting hand, get ready to play the 7th fret of your D string. With your plucking hand, take your 1st finger, and curl it beneath the D string. Now forcefully pop the string away from the bass keeping your finger curled. The string will snap back to the bass. That is called a pop. When I pop, I like to think of it like a drummer hitting a snare drum. This will help you with knowing WHEN to pop as opposed to slapping.

Example #2


For you new folks, do a lot of popping and you WILL get a blister from it. Take it easy until you build up a callous. Yes, your hands will stay sexy, people.

For this lesson, we’re going to be slapping the low octave and popping the high octave, just like examples #1 & #2, but now we’re going to do it over a beat. Plus we’ll change up some of the octaves. Oh they all will be octaves, but watch the left hand fretting.

Example #3


Now let’s play the same thing at a quicker tempo and a more disco flavored beat. Use example #3 for the tab.


Now let’s crank it up, and make this a little heavier. We’re going to double the slaps, but keep the pops single. Double pops at any speed are quite tricky, so we’ll work on that another time. For now you want to concentrate on not rushing the double slaps. Get all your notes even and perfect and it will sound totally funkay.

Example #4


The last part of this lesson is a modified version of example #4, only in a slightly different feel. Notice how much funkier it is. Also notice the slide at the beginning of the phrase. It needs to be there for the full-on effect. The pops are muted slightly as well. You can do that by releasing a little pressure on the fretted notes right after popping them. Just don’t let go of the string all the way. Really accent the first note, don’t rush, and you’ll soon feel the pulse of this.

Example #5


Once you master this entire lesson you are formally allowed to wear star shaped and sequined sunglasses.

Some suggested listening for feelin' the FUNK !!!
Scissor Sisters (Baby Daddy on bass): Filthy Gorgeous
Vintage Nintendo Game System: Mario Brothers
Loverboy: Turn Me Loose

A common, easy technique used in funk is the octave slap. If you’ve watched my “Slappin’ and Poppin’ for Bass” DVD, then you know all about the physical technique of this. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to do if you haven’t watched it.

Start by playing the 5th fret of your A string but instead of plucking it, use the side of your thumb to strike it and quickly move your thumb out of the way so the string can ring out. This is called “slapping”. I like to think of a slap like the equivalent of a drummer kicking the bass drum. Here’s a couple slaps for your ears.


Simon George said...

i really dig the lessons man please keep up the hard work and keep them coming! check these out IStillGotMyGuitar

simon george said...

I appreciate the lessons. Stuff like this really helps players to keep learning. I think music is all about its endless possibilities. Great post keep up the hard work. Check these out IStillGotMyGuitar.