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FUNK bass questions

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Nirvana4ever, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. Nirvana4ever


    Aug 2, 2005
    I just got a wah pedal, and I am interested in learning to play funk. I have some problems though. I have only been playing for a little over a year and a half, and I am not that good at slap. I also have a hard time thinking of bass lines, and it is probably harder with funk. Can anyone help with a way to play funk, write it, and have fun with it? Thanks.
  2. bassksun

    bassksun Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Las Vegas,NV
    Start off simple...
    Listen to:
    Brothers Johnson
    James Brown

    You can get tabs or sheet music for these players. Remember, "Everything is on the one." ;)

  3. Learn how to do it fingerstyle without the wah before you get complicated. Funk isn't all slap or wah.
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
  5. hateater

    hateater snatch canadian cream

    May 4, 2001
    Eugene, OR
    It will be hard, but put the wah to the side for now. Learn how to get funky with James Brown recordings. That is probably the simplist (and funkiest) think you can do at your skill level. After that, I suggest learning how to play like Rocco Prestia from Tower of Power. To me, playing 16ths with mutes during times you dont play sounds funkier than s***. Next, learn to slap along with a funk book. It might not be as fun as learning school days, but there are plenty of funk slap books out there. A really good bassist to check out in the ways of slap could be Stu Zender... dude is sick. From there, you should be set to take on the task of developing a style unique and funky and ALL YOUR OWN!

    D'oh! I forgot to add.... MOTOWN! James Jamerson is THE MAN! Learn whatever you can from him... he's THE MAN!
  6. bassksun

    bassksun Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Las Vegas,NV
    Yep...grab a copy of Parliament-Dr. Funkenstein...work with it by ear for a while. Then if you need, here's a tab thats not too bad
    Not super complicated IMHO.

    Funk is not all about slapping and popping macho pyrotechnics...it is actually about the groove.

    If you JUST GOTTA pop try Sly and the Family Stone-Thankyoufalettinmebemicelfagain

    OBTW what is the wah fer?

  7. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I would never refer to that list as "simple." They might have a couple easy tunes, but it's certainly not simple.

    Nirvana, funk is not about slap. Slap is often used in funk, but it's certainly not a requirement. You are getting a little ahead of yourself with the wah wah, if you ask me. There's nothing in particular about learning funk that will be a shortcut to funk nirvana other than immersing yourself in the style, listening to as many good funk bassists as you can find, figuring out why their basslines are so cool, and then trying to emulate them. In the meantime, get yourself a teacher that can go over the basics of playing and learning music with you. You get the skill level of playing up, and you're immersed in all this great funk music, and it will be easy for you to funk out.
  8. Yeah I play a lot of "funk" but no slap, so there you go. Funk is all about the feel, and the flow. You'll understand what I mean once you start listening and playing it.

    One of the biggest things in most funk is movement. If you listen to the bass in a lot of funk, regardless of effects or technique used, there is usually not a lot of empty space. "Rolling" lines are very important, and the only way you can make a line roll is to know where you're going (Next chord in progression) and how to get there ("acceptable" notes in current progression). This is very similar to how walking bass lines are formed in jazz. There is no easy way to do this, except to learn where notes are on your bass, and to have a feel for the direction of the song.

    As far as learning this technique goes, I would suggest first learning how to play all the scales in a major and minor pattern. Then, learn the major and minor triads for each key. Also learn the 7th (dominant and major) for each key. Learn what the actual notes are. Then once you do that, learn where to find each note on each string. It's a lot of work, and we are all still trying to perfect it, but the sooner you start working on this, the sooner you will be able to play funky flowing lines.