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

Between the four bar F9 vamps heard in Figs. 1 & 2, you can clearly hear the difference between both the scratches and punch comping playing techniques. Notice in Fig. 2 after palm punching the inside four strings I use a downstroke to play the root of the F9 on the 5th string, 8th fret and then use my remaining pick hand fingers to snap the upper harmony (A, C, Eb).

Next up is comping some cool inversions of dom9 and dom9(13) chords in the key of F that are outlined for you in Fig. 3. In Fig. 5 you’ll see I start off in bar 1 with the same punch pattern seen in Fig. 2, but in bar 2 I start to change it up by palm punching as well as downstroke picking bass notes on different 16th note subdivisions. I also introduce slides, strategic rests, and un-staccatoed chords throughout the figure, too.

All of this pent up rhythmic dichotomy comes to a head in Fig. 6 where both techniques are combined. In addition to this synergistic approach I throw in more subtle ingredients for you to consider: single-note chromatic approach tones (last two 16ths of the pickup notes), high string register scratches (top of bar 2), combination palm punch, percussive snap, and downstroke picked muted bass notes (beat 4 of bar 3), and chord stabs without anything in-between (both instances of the upper portion of the F9(13)/C in the bar four).

When trying to incorporate the additives into your playing it’s of paramount importance you consider this: take them on one-by-one and slowly. Let them settle into your hands and mind until they become unconscious. Then, and only then should you move onto another idea and/or increase the tempo on your metronome. I do not think about which one of these techniques I’m going to use, they just come out naturally as I play. I let myself fall into the groove and when playing with other musicians, I listen to what they’re doing and have a “conversation” by using these moves as my extended vocabulary. But, that’s only if the conversation opens up for me to “say” those things. If not, I keep it simple and get right to the point. Either way your job is to get deep in pocket. Remember, in the end it’s all about the groove—play for it, play with it.