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Counting 16th Notes For Funk

The Essential Funk Guitar Lessons

In this first lesson we're going to be exploring 16th notes and now to count them. I know it doesn't sound like the most exciting start to a funk course, but it's a real big deal and mastering this skill will make the rest of the course a lot easier and therefor a lot more fun!

Video Lesson

Additional Help

16th note strumming has 16 arm movements in a bar, 8 up and 8 down. The down strums will be on the beat and the "ands" and the up strums will come in between.

Make sure that you just tap your foot on the beat only!!

T . . . T . . . T . . . T . . .
1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a

Showing the Down and Up Strums with the foot tap

T . . . T . . . T . . . T . . .
1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a


To Practice...

1. Counting Out Loud
Counting the 16th notes out loud away from the guitar - do it anywhere, anytime you have some spare time. You can say it in your head, but actually vocalizing it out loud is best. Do it so often that it rolls easily off your tongue!

2. Play 16ths
Really slowly play 16th note strumming and making sure you only tap your foot on the beat and not on every down strum. This is a common problem for people who are used to playing 8th note strumming only - but it's very important that you break that now and tap your foot only on the beat.

3. Make friends with the metronome!
Metronomes are not forgiving and if you start to speed up or slow down it won't care and you'll fall out with it! So start real slow, around 50-60bpm (any slower and it gets harder!) and practice staying in time with the metronome. Try to 'lock in' with it - in Funk music the groove is where it's all at and that is about timing - so really learning to sync perfectly with the metronome is where it's at! You might like to check out my JustinGuitar Time Trainer metronome app for iOS :)

Remember to start with just down strums on the beat, then add in the 'ands' and eventually the down and ups and just keep all the strings muted at this point - we'll be adding in some chords real soon - but wanna help you build a great foundation first!

4. Make the metronome disappear
If you want to get really in the pocket you want that metronome to disappear when you play, you play so perfectly in sync with it that you just don't hear it! Check out my lesson on The Disappearing Metronome.

Additional Resources

Recommended Album
You ain't never going to get the Funk if you're not listening to the greats! So with each lesson I'm going to recommend a funk album for you to sink your ears into and help you get in the groove - some of the all time classics and maybe some slightly lesson know albums too that I really dig.

The Meters Album Cover

The Meters - The Meters (1969)

One of the pioneers of Funk, The Meters are incredible. You'll likely recognize their hits Cissy Strut and Look-Ka Py Py which are Funk classics - but this is an album you NEED to absorb - the grooves are absolutely where the whole Funk thing is at. Guitarist Leo Nocentelli is one of if not THE best Funk guitar player ever. Just get it! Now! :)

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Lesson ID: FU-501