Popular music styles from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s hold their own unique nuances and features. However, every once in a while, a style will persist throughout the decades, each new wave iterating on the last. Funk rock is one of these styles, with one of it’s first popular icons being Jimi Hendrix. This evolving genre combines the gusto of rock music with the danceability of funk. The guitar is at the forefront, and the attitude it brings is unquestionable.
In his course, 30 Funk Rock Riffs You MUST Know, Chris Buono shows you riffs you can use to spice up you rock or funk playing.
Here are seven video funk rock guitar lessons from the course. For the full course, check out Chris Buono’s 30 Funk Rock Riffs You MUST Know on TrueFire!
Funk Rock Guitar Lesson – Riff #10: Milk
What Funkadelic are to the early days of funk rock, The Red Hot Chili Peppers are to where it went in the 90’s. With a strong showing in the 80’s, RHCP closed out the decade with Mother’s Milk. That was the debut of then 18-year-old John Frusciante – one of my all-time favorite funkateers!
Riff 10 is a four bar Dorian based rocker that shows its color with fragments of a IV chord (A) as well as a full-on second inversion triad. The quick back-and-forth between the A major dyads and the 2nd fret E on the D string is a little tricky to control. It’s all about your muting technique. However you approach it be sure to really dig in like John does.
Inspiration: Red Hot Chili Peppers | Good Time Boys (Mother’s Milk) 
Funk Rock Guitar Lesson – Riff #12: The Jimi Hazel Experience
New York City is the hub for so much that shaped my playing (and life) and thankfully that includes Grade-A funk rock. One historically awesome contributor is Eddie Hazel and his work in 24-7 Spyz. Along with Living Colour and Screaming Headless Torsos, my ears didn’t need to travel far to get inspiration from the source living in New Jersey.
Riff 12 is back in Em in the sweet spot fifth position. Staying within Em pentatonic, the riff is a nice balance of 16th and 1/8 note subdivisions before descending four power chords whose roots follow a minor blues scale. It’s gutsy, it’s loud and it’s fun. This is what funk rock is all about.
Inspiration: 24-7 Spyz | Grandma Dynamite (Harder Than You) 
Funk Rock Guitar Lesson – Riff #13: DOOD
In my book, the 90’s was the peak of funk rock. In the 80’s, bands such as Living Colour and Red Hot Chili Peppers had taken what Sly and George Clinton had created in the 70’s based on what James Brown had done in the first place. The 90’s catapulted off the platform built by these pioneers and went in all sorts of completely fun directions. The remainder of the course will focus on some of my favorite riffs starting with this break from Scatterbrain’s “Don’t Call Me Dude”.
I’ve always said country and funk walk the line together and this is a prime example. Set in open position E minor blues, Riff 13 is a funk rock honky tonk bonanza. You may want to employ some hybrid picking to make it work. That and a precise, light touch navigating the plethora of legato. One thing I do here that’s much different than my normal approach is not roll those adjacent string, same fret movements. Try both and see what works for you.
Inspiration: Scatterbrain | Don’t Call Me Dude (Here Comes Trouble) 
Funk Rock Guitar Lesson – Riff #14: Wicked Cool
Let’s not forget the 90’s was preceded by a decade known as the 80’s and that time rightfully brings to mind another infamous style associated with spandex, hair spray and neon. One band that towed the line well and came out on top on all fronts was Boston-based Extreme. That is, until “More Than Words”, but that’s neither here nor there. For we guitarists, the shining star is Nuno Bettencourt. Man, that guy can play.
In Riff 14 you can hear the funk rock command Nuno possessed. This G Dorian riffs grooves hard and has some slick sliding maneuvers in bars 3 & 4 to tango with. Couple that with 16th note syncopation and you’re in for a wild ride courtesy of the Mr. Bettencourt.
Inspiration: Extreme | Get the Funk Out (Extreme II: Pornograffitti) 
Funk Rock Guitar Lesson – Riff #16: Primal Harold
I remember going to see Primus for the first time at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ. But, never having heard them play, I went on a whim. I left a concert and ran to the music store (remember those?) the following day to buy Frizzle Fry. That’s right, I BOUGHT the music. Anyway… Larry “Ler” LaLonde is probably the most avant-garde alternative/progressive/funk rock in this lot, but when he hunkered down into a groove it was definitely funky. Hard not to be with that rhythm section!
The trick(s) with Riff 16 is getting the palm mutes in the pocket only to choke the last one, relax on the scratches so as not to rush them and nail the feel of those staccato 1/4 note triplets in bar. Dig in!
Inspiration: Primus | Harold of the Rocks (Frizzle Fry) 
Funk Rock Guitar Lesson – Riff #25: De Tomaso
Wait. Is this a riff akin to Pantera? I thought this was 30 FUNK ROCK Riffs You MUST Know? If you’re asking that question, it’s safe to assume you’ve never given Pantera a good listen. Trust me when I say those Abbott brothers from Texas sure knew how to groove hard. They were absolutely funky, at least in a rock sense. Riff 25 provides ample proof.
Don’t let the two-note power chords fool you – this is a tough riff. The placement of the descending slides, open position E5 chords and scratches are deceptively challenging. Then you have the uniquely shaped descending riff in bar 4 to contend with as well. What did you expect? This is Dimebag Darrell!
Inspiration: Pantera | 5 Minutes Alone (Far Beyond Driven) 
Funk Rock Guitar Lesson – Riff #30: RedRightReturn
To close out this collection of funk riffs you must know, I give one of my own from an upcoming record I recently recorded at Lakehouse Recording Studios in Asbury Park, NJ. Believe or not, the riff is for a cover of “How Soon Is Now” from The Smiths. The inspiration, of course, comes from equal parts the original tune and an arrangement from NYC-based alternative rock legends Quicksand. That right, there’s another reason why I love funk and funk rock – no limits!
This is a jagged riff in F#m that makes use of ˚∆7 chord as well as phat-sounding maj7’s among others; all within syncopated motives that rely on my punch comping and hybrid picking techniques. That particular combo of techniques goes all the way back to my debut TrueFire course, Funk Fission. All in all, this riff rocks and it’s funky and that’s all that matters.
Inspiration: RedRightReturn | How Soon Is Now (TBA) 
Digging these free video funk rock guitar lessons? For the full course, and all 30 riffs, check out Chris Buono’s 30 Funk Rock Riffs You MUST Know.