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Funk Up Your Blues Rhythm Playing To Sound More Versatile

By Antony Reynaert

When you play the blues it’s important to master every aspect of blues guitar. You can’t afford to limit yourself to just lead guitar. Not really knowing how to play rhythm on guitar will drastically hold you back to really master the blues. Missing the skills of this aspect means missing important knowledge. It will on the other hand also be harder to communicate with other musicians because you don’t speak their language. As most guitar players know, lead guitar playing is on top of the ‘guitar’ food chain and is far more popular then rhythm. This article will make you think differently about the fun-ratio of rhythm playing. Spice up your blues rhythm with this must-know funk blues guitar rhythm tip.

When you play rhythm guitar, instead of playing a normal A7 barre shaped chord over and over again, you want to make it more interesting by adding ‘spicy flavours’ on top of the chord.
Let’s look at this D7 chord shape:

usom-chord-pic1                            usom-guitar-chord-pic2

Just as a normal barre chord, this D7 chord shape has the property to move up and down the neck of the guitar. It’s moveable without having to change the chord shape. The fourth string (D) defines the chord we are playing. In this example we want to be playing A7 so we have to move the shape up to the 7th fret.

To simplify the chord shape a bit more we can leave out the fourth string and just play the three highest notes of this seventh chord shape. This movable chord shape is not uncommon in music, think about the song ‘red house’ by Jimi Hendrix, where he plays these shapes in the intro of the song.

Any time you come across an A7 chord when playing blues rhythm guitar, you can ‘throw in’ this chord shape. Because the D7 chord is so close to the actual barre shaped seventh chord it’s really easy to quickly transition to both chord shapes.

Now that you have the knowledge of the existence of this shape, we want to make it more interesting. We’re going to funk up this bluesy chord by sliding into it from a half step.


Try and experiment with this chord shape to make it your own. This trick will give an overall idea of how you can embellish little funky tricks in your blues guitar playing.

This is only a really small piece of the rhythm guitar puzzle and it’s important to get all pieces. If you only have a few pieces you won’t see the overall picture of the puzzle. In my free blues rhythm guitar ebook I go over lots and lots more that will help you to develop all the necessary skills to successful blues rhythm guitar.

About the author
Antony Reynaert is a guitar teacher and player from Belgium. On his Best Blues Guitar Lessons website there are lots of articles and tips on how to play blues guitar.

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