Influential funk guitar greats like Eddie Hazel from Parliament-Funkadelic and Ernie Isley from The Isley Brothers were masters at the percussive riffs and solos that give funk its distinctive groove-based feel. Funk/Rock and R&B Guitar Soloing teaches the tools and effective soloing techniques of the legendary funk guitarists: the appropriate scales, the best use of effects (such as wah-wah, overdrive, distortion, and fuzz), and the rhythmic and melodic development that work together to create an authentic funk-based solo and sound.
The course begins with a primer on the rhythm section and the importance of the Minor Pentatonic scale. You’ll move on to cover articulation and picking/plucking techniques, pentatonic superimposition, and creating new scales with string bending.
Throughout the course, you’ll review examples from artists such as James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Ohio Players, Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and Soulive to develop a greater understanding of how to apply the techniques covered. The course makes extensive use of state-of-the-art video demonstrations, animated illustrations, and hundreds of notated and recorded examples.
As the course progresses you will practice your soloing over the provided rhythm tracks, and receive expert feedback from your instructor on how to improve your performance.
The course provides the knowledge and skills needed to solo in this genre and any blues based genre with greater facility and awareness, in the context of a professional recording or live music performance.
By the end of the course, you will be able to:
- Use funk/ R&B picking and string bending techniques in your playing
- Superimpose the pentatonic scale to expand the harmonic sounds in your solos
- Apply practice techniques to improve your ear
- Develop new ideas for your solos
- Use appropriate scales in your solos
- Create more interesting, rhythmic and melodic solos
- Use pedal effects appropriate for the genre
- Improve your tone
Lesson 1 The Basics of Funk/R&B
Lesson 2 Learning to Solo
Lesson 3 Creating Interest with Minor Grooves
Lesson 4 Using Articulation and Tone Effectively
Lesson 5 String Bending
Lesson 6 Major and Dominant 7th Static Grooves
Lesson 7 More Funk/R&B Sounds and Bends
Lesson 8 Essential Funk/R&B Bends
Lesson 9 Common Musical Scale Combinations
Lesson 10 Sounds and Musical Effects
Lesson 11 Expanding Funk/R&B Harmony
Lesson 12 Putting It All Together
Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements
Completion of Guitar Chords 101 and Guitar Scales 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required. A minimum of two years of electric guitar playing experience with fundamental knowledge of chords and rhythm, in addition to good single note scale facility. Guitar tablature, fretboard maps, and traditional notation will be used throughout the course.
- Funk/R&B Guitar: Creative Solos, Grooves, and Sounds by Thaddeus Hogarth, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard
Students are required to record video for assignments. You can use your smartphone, digital camera, or webcam to do this. If you do not already have a preferred video software, you can use the built-in recorder tool within your assignment post. You can play the backing track through your speakers as you record and the microphone will pick up both the guitar (acoustic or through an amp) and the track as you play along.
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- Recommended pedals: wah-wah, distortion
- Other useful effects include overdrive, fuzz, chorus, phase, uni-vibe, flange, and envelope filter
- A built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built-in ports or an external audio interface)
- USB audio interface to record guitar to your computer if not using microphone (recommended)
General Course Requirements
Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course.
- OS X 10.10 Yosemite or higher
- Latest version of Google Chrome
- Zoom meeting software (available in the course when joining your first chat)
- Speakers or headphones
- External or internal Microphone
- Broadband Internet connection
Author & Instructor
Born in the U.K. and raised in the West Indies, Thaddeus Hogarth is a Professor in the Guitar department at Berklee College of Music. A two-time winner of the Independent Music Award for Best R&B/Blues, he has been a prominent singer songwriter and guitar/chromatic harmonica player on the New England music scene since the early 90’s, after graduating from Berklee.
Thaddeus leads his own group, the Thaddeus Hogarth Band, featuring Tony “Thunder” Smith on drums, Winston Maccow on bass, and David Sparr on keyboards. He has shared the bill or stage with such legends as Tower of Power, Fred Wesley, Ernie Isley, Bernie Worrell, Sinbad, Average White Band, Donald Harrison, James Montgomery, Johnny Winter, and Matt Schofield.
When Bose launched their Personal Amplification System (L1 Series), Thaddeus’ band was hand-picked to represent Bose nationwide for the launch of this revolutionary live music amplification technology. His work also includes collaboration with the reggae legend and Grammy nominee, Sister Carol. Prior to this, Hogarth was the principal singer-songwriter and guitarist for Boston’s Heavy Metal Horns, known for their original heavy hitting funk-rock grooves and full brass sound. Thaddeus was featured on 2 of their internationally released CD’s: Heavy Metal Horns (Square Records) and Horns In The House (Polystar Japan/Danger), and garnered awards such as Best New Band (Boston magazine, 1990) and Outstanding Club Act (Boston Music Awards, 1992). Since then, he has released four award-winning solo CDs under his own name, a Jimi Hendrix tribute CD and a live concert DVD.
Thaddeus is the author of Funk/R&B Guitar: Creative Solos, Grooves, and Sounds (Hal Leonard/Berklee Press) and Funk/Rock R&B Guitar Soloing (Berklee Online). His “Introduction to Guitar” course on Coursera/Berklee has been featured on The TODAY Show and has reached enrollment surpassing 500,000. His music and voice can be heard worldwide in full-length and independent short feature films, commercial television, PBS, and MTV. Billboard magazine describes Hogarth’s music as “Soul Terra Firma,” and the Boston Globe calls him a “guitar virtuoso.”
When taken for credit, Funk/Rock and R&B Guitar Soloing can be applied towards these associated programs:
Associated Certificate Programs
- General Music Studies Professional Certificate
- General Music Studies Advanced Professional Certificate
- Rock Guitar Professional Certificate
- Guitar Advanced Professional Certificate
Associated Degree Major
- Bachelor’s Degree in Guitar