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Watch the The Basics online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Funk Fission

When trying to play Fig. 1 keep in mind the steadfast rule of strumming 16th notes—downstrokes for the 1st and 3rd subdivisions (downbeat and upbeat respectively) and upstrokes for the 2nd and 4th (offbeats)—as this applies to the fret hand first finger used here. To keep things simple on paper, I only notated this as high as the B-string, but in actuality I’m striking the hi-E string every time I play in that string register. Whether it’s hitting the chords or playing scratches, the top string is being played so don’t try to avoid it—it would be impossible!

Fig. 2 ups the ante and incorporates the pick hand thumb into the action. Again, to keep the chart from becoming a Zappa-like black page I did not include when and where your thumb makes contact with the strings as opposed to the first finger. While I have no rules to this, you can safely assume all bass note riffage is played with the thumb while most of the chords are played with the first finger. I say mostly, because once I start to play with my thumb in this manner I often strum the first attack of each bar with a thumb stroke and then follow it with a first finger upstroke. This approach makes for some cool, yet subtle contrast in how the chords are activated and thus sound. It’s also a feel thing in my pick hand. With that in mind, let what comes natural to you happen. This technique is meant to be very loose and free.

The playing segment that begins at 1:08 is a variation of what’s played at Fig. 2, but with moments of full-fingered string bashing. Again, the spots where I apply all four fingers to come crashing down on the strings is random, but like the thumb, will often be used for the first attack of each bar for a crushing accent. As stated previously, let your hand do what feels natural with this particular technique and it will sound great. And remember, aim carefully and try not to whack a pickup on a downstroke or catch a pickguard on an upstroke.

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