Watch the Pogo Stick online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Funk Fission

When trying to play the first round of variations starting at the top of the segment, pay close attention to the fingerings indicated in Fig. 1 at beat four of bar 2. This is the first time you’ll see me play the A root on the 5th fret of the sixth string with a finger other than my fret hand 1st finger—in this case it’s the 2nd finger. This allows you to play the fourth string, 4th fret F# with the 1st finger and hammer-on the half step above G with your 3rd finger. Though quirky, the fingering combination allows this part of the lick to happen.

In Fig. 2 you’ll see some whip-like double picking on one note usually played at the tail end of this two bar sequence get transformed into a piercing one-two punch on the high strings making for a more commanding exit out of the riff. Don’t worry, you still play with a downstroke/upstroke combo so it shouldn’t be too much of a transition. Speaking of change-ups in the ending of the riff, in Fig. 3 after moving a m3 (three half steps) to Cm I condense the riff to a one bar figure and inject a cool clustery voicing that outlines a Cm9. In order to pull this off you’ll need to wake up your pick 4th finger (P4) and train it to play with the same ferocity the other hybrid fingers are to make the dynamics sound even.

Fig. 4 brings out some more options: Ghost hammers (check out the 7th fret E in bar 1, at the 2nd 16th of the 4th beat), more cluster voicings that involve m2nds (bar 2, downbeat of beat 4), and a departure from the overall riff (bar 4). In bar 5, the idea of changing the anchor from only being a low A is challenged with the introduction of other bass notes (C, B).