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5 Funk and Soul Songs You Must Play!

If you've ever heard a funk or soul song, you know that the guitar parts in this genre are some of the most fun to listen to. Guitar players of this style act almost like an extension to the drum and bass, playing along nearly exclusively with the rhythm of the song. Here are some classic funk and soul hits you have to learn right now. 


“Night Train” - James Brown & the Famous Flames

This classic from the legendary King of Funk, is based off a 12 bar blues form, and features an incredibly addictive-to-play riff. If you want an exercise in tempo, or maybe you want a funky way to practice your spider legs, this is it. There are also satisfying chord stabs played later in the song too, that really give the entire track its punch. 

Get the full lesson here.


“At Last” - Etta James

This song is one of the most iconic songs of all-time. It’s written in 12/8 time, and features a bluesy electric guitar that puts a lot of emphasis on the bass notes before strumming each chord. If you want to practice your 7th chords, there are a number of them in the progression, and it goes like this: F - Dm7 - Gm7 - C7 played 3 times, then F - D7 - Db7 - C7 played once.

Get the full lesson here.


“I Second That Emotion” - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

This classic features a ton of funky rhythm guitar parts, and lead fills. In Guitartricks’ tutorial of the song, the three guitar parts are combined into just two parts, and if you want, you can even learn the entire song on a single guitar. You can get started playing the intro to this song by following these chords: A - G - G - D - D.

Get the full lesson here. 


“Shotgun” - Junior Walker and the All Stars

Right off the bat, you can tell that this is the epitome of funk guitar. The riff is bouncy, and cuts right through the rest of the band. The rhythm absolutely carries this song. As Anders explains in the lesson, you want to think of the guitar for this song, as part of the drum kit. There are some fun bluesy fills but for the most part, the guitars in this song is working with just a single chord, using 16th note strums.  

Get the full lesson here. 


“Put it Where You Want” - The Crusaders featuring Larry Carlton 

This song opens with the guitar playing the hook before it goes into funky chords and other fills. The recording also uses a fun wah effect that fuses really nicely with the bluesy licks. You can try figuring out how to play the lick yourself, and here’s a hint: use the C minor pentatonic! In our lesson of this song, we adapt the horn melody for guitar. 

Get the full lesson here.


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