funk

Using just a few notes or a barrage, John Frusciante creates guitar parts which deftly guide listeners through Red Hot Chili Peppers’ songs.

Intermediate

Beginner

  • Explore the hallmarks of John Frusciante’s unique stylistic and technical approach to guitar.
  • Get a humdinger of a funk strumming workout.
  • Learn how to go deeper to create memorable guitar parts.
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I had a bit of a strange introduction to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Back in the day, during my first week of school at New York University, I noticed a sign on the door of the student cafeteria indicating that a relatively unknown band called “Red Hot Chili Peppers” was playing a show across the hall that Saturday night. I remember thinking, “Well, that’s a silly name for a band. Those guys are never going anywhere.” Yeah. Good call.

Cut to winter 2002: I’ve been a professional music transcriber for about five years, and I find myself in the Chili Peppers’ NYC management office, transcribing an advance copy of their By the Way album, set to be released that summer. It was the band’s eighth album and fourth with guitarist John Frusciante. It was also my first deep dive into Frusciante’s playing, though it would not be my last.

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Get on the good foot with a handful of soulful, gospel-inspired riffs from Snarky Puppy’s guitarist.

Chops: Advanced
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Understand how to outline pentatonic harmony with double-stops.
• Create funky muted lines using hybrid picking.
• Strengthen your internal time. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Double- and triple-stops are a hallmark of blues, rock ’n’ roll, and country guitar playing. They offer a cool way to add harmony and texture to what would could otherwise be thin sounding single-note phrases. In this lesson, however, we’ll explore the “stop” concept and focus on its use within funk, R&B, soul, and gospel realms. I’ve always liked how these small note clusters can mimic the way a horn section would approach a chord stab. Keep this in mind when learning these licks and crafting your own. FYI: Many of these examples are best played using a hybrid-picking technique.

Think of Ex. 1as a warm-up for the rest of the lesson. It’s a two-octave D major pentatonic scale (D–E–F#–A–B) harmonized in fourths. (The D pentatonic scale is the top line; harmonizing it a fourth below introduces one note outside of D pentatonic. Can you spot it? Hint: It’s lurking under F# and belongs to the D major scale.)

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