Top 7 Guitars for Funk Music (2020) – Our pick of the Best Funk Guitars

Note: Here is a list of some of the best funk guitars out there to pick from, containing detailed information along with relevant cons that will help you conveniently compare and select the most suitable model based on your needs.

Best Funk Guitars - Blog Cover

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Our top 3 picks

4.8/5
  • Incredible for Funk out-of-the-box
  • Ideal for the ‘urgent sound’ of the genre
4.6/5
  • Semi-hollow body (Ideal for Funk music)
  • Gutsy and crisp sound
4.5/5
  • Easily accessible and affordable
  • Simple and sturdy guitar
  • Easy to play

Funk genre – or as what we like to call it ‘the pure fun’ genre, is all about the ease to play.

This genre is not driven by a series of chords, it is driven by rhythm which makes it different from the other genres – And that is also so the reason why you need to pick the best funk guitar personalised to your sound.

Funk was in a way invented by big and hollow-bodied guitars by the end of the ’60s. These guitars created a special sound that we now associate with the genre so naturally.

The Best Funk guitar:

  • Has a great nice comfortable neck
  • Goes well with funky pedals
  • Has a clean and groovy tone

So, this means that you need a bright sounding guitar that has a shape that gives you an advantage over regular guitars to help you groove with the beat.

Guitarists usually use complex jazz chords, and fast, intricate strumming patterns, that’s what makes the genre so unique and groovy to dance along to, but which how would you decide which guitar to choose for playing this sweet sweet genre?

That is why we compiled the list of the best funk guitars to help you transition into your desired playing style or as James Brown would put it, to make it funky!

These are the 7 Best Funk Guitars (2020)

True Music Helper Rating - 4.8/5
4.8/5

The winner is obviously, the guitar of choice of the funk legend, James Brown. A beautiful instrument with a great sound too.

How does it sound?
Tele is the most versatile guitar and it fits into most genres that you throw at it. Be it jazz, blues or rock. But funk sounds exceptionally good on it. The bridge pick-up is amazing to create the urgent tone of the genre.

How does it feel?
It is the preferred guitar of many big names in the industry for a reason. You can glide through its neck very easily and you need to make no modification, you can straight start funking!

Pros

  • Incredible for Funk out-of-the-box
  • Ideal for the ‘urgent sound’ of the genre

Cons

  • None

True Music Helper Rating - 4.5/5
4.5/5

Ibanez Artcore does scream Rock’n’Roll or Electric Blues but it can be great to play this genre with as well. The really high quality and great sounding vintage-feel guitars that can also hang with the modern guitars as well.

How does it sound?
Warm, balanced articulation and excellent response time of this guitar make it perfect to jam with to funky melodies.

How does it feel?
Semi-hollow guitars are a perfect fit for this genre and this one comes under the same badge for it. It feels great and it also comes in a variety of unique colors that honestly look very cool.

Pros

  • The sound is gutsy and crisp
  • Semi-hollow body (Ideal for Funk music)

Cons

  • None

3. Fender Stratocaster

True Music Helper Rating - 4.5/5
4.5/5

Stratocaster is not the first choice of many funk enthusiasts but a good number of funk players choose it as their go-to. John Frusciante, for example, used a strat in the early Red Hot Chilli Peppers records.

How does it sound?
With a Strat, you get 5 different pick-up positions and all of them have funk in them. You will definitely find your style of tone with this.

How does it feel?
It is an amazing guitar to play – right from beginners to experts, everyone loves to get their hands on a strat. It is so iconic that it has shaped the way people think what a guitar looks like.

Pros

  • Easily accessible and affordable
  • Simple and sturdy guitar
  • Easy to play

Cons

  • None

True Music Helper Rating - 4.6/5
4.6/5

335 is a great modern funk instrument. It sits right between a solid-body and hollow-body guitar so you get the best of both worlds. It is also one of Eric Clapton’s preferred instruments which says a lot about this guitar.

How does it sound?
The middle position in this guitar is where the funk lives. The Gibson humbucking pick-ups sound incredible. It has a bright and thin tone and it lets you achieve that signature punch required for this genre.

How does it feel?
Right of the bat, it is a great looking instrument. It also makes the strumming very easy compared to regular sized hollow-bodied guitar.

Pros

  • Clear, open and thin tone

Cons

  • Can be expensive

True Music Helper Rating - 4.1/5
4.1/5

Les Paul has to be one of the most revered guitars of all time. It does absolutely everything, it looks business and it also handles this genre like a champ. You just cannot go wrong with a Les Paul. Increase the life of your Les Paul by installing the top locking tuners from our guide.

How does it sound?
The pick-ups sound extremely nice and sweet. The clean sounds are absolutely beautiful from this thing, especially from the neck pick-ups. It will not take you a lot of time to fall in love with this guitar/funk-machine.

How does it feel?
The solid mahogany body, stunning maple top, and iconic vintage look with the sunburst orange gives you almost the same feel as the original Les Paul. It also has a bit of weight to it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, it’s the kind of weight that makes sense for a guitar like this.

Pros

  • Amazing build quality
  • One of the most iconic guitars ever
  • Nice clean sound from all pick-ups

Cons

  • None

True Music Helper Rating - 3.9/5
3.9/5

Out of all the guitars on the list, Jazzmaster has the most ‘pop’ sound of all. It can pull off the new wave of funk very nicely.

How does it sound?
It is in a way made for jazz but was also a part of surf rock in the 60s but we think it makes for a great guitar for this genre as well. The sound is very bright and has a slight bounce.

How does it feel?
In the flesh, it feels amazing. The controls are set on the scratchplate which makes them extremely convenient to reach.

Pros

  • Great for modern music
  • Awesome looks
  • Comes in affordable Squier series

Cons

  • Does not have the vintage sound but is perfect for modern funk

True Music Helper Rating - 3.6/5
3.6/5

This guitar is basically Gibson SG without the name. The tone is incredibly close to that of an expensive and iconic guitar.

How does it sound?
It sounds clean and the mids are exceptionally warm. It has a powerful sound and that is why most people buy this guitar.

How does it feel?
It is made to be played fast and you can tell. It is the exact replica of the Gibson SG which means you get the design of a very expensive instrument if you think about it.

Pros

  • Too good for the money
  • Great tone

Cons

  • Not as funky as others on the list

One of the things that will really help you in achieving the funk tone is a compressor pedal because if you listen to the old Prince records, he used all direct and compressed guitars on them.

Rules of learning Funk guitar

There are a lot of benefits of learning how to play funk music just because it adds a lot of rhythm to your playing. Once you start learning how to play funk, it will automatically start adding groove to your overall playing. 

That’s the power of this beautiful genre. So, to summarise how to get into the habit of playing this genre, we have jotted down a few rules that will help you get started in no time.

Rule #1: It is all about the groove – You want to make sure that your playing is groovy. But, that’s not necessary right from the beginning. Your initial goal should be to perfect the chord changes and timing and then adding the funk-swingy feel to it.

Rule #2: Learn some new funky chords – The first thing you ought to know about chords here is that the rules of rock music do not apply here. To make it funky, you will have to un-learn some of your habits – habits that you probably learned from the best teacher who taught you basic popular songs on the guitar to grab some female attention.

Get fluent in playing some funk chords with the help of the internet.

Rule #3: Master the Muted Strokes – The use of muted strokes is one of the things that sets this genre apart from others. To produce the muted stroke – strum your strings, use it almost like a percussion instrument to add more groove while muting the strings with your other hand. Once you get your muted strokes right, you are on the right track.

Rule #4: Listen and Learn – Listening to more and more funk music is necessary just to get in the zone. You have to find out the small nuances that funk artists use to perform the signature style. So how do you do it? You feed it to your subconscious mind to magically move your hand at the right time.

Some of our album recommendations would be – James Brown – Live At The Apollo (1962), Prince – 1999 (1999!), Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magic (1991), The Meters – The Meters (1969), Curtis Mayfield – Superfly (1972).

Best amp for Funk guitar

Once you have decided the best guitar to play funk music on, it’s time you choose an amp that supports the sound. 

The sound you are looking for is pretty straight-forward. You will use a clean channel for a crisp and balanced clean tone. A lot of people on the internet will tell you to go for the finest and the most expensive amps by Fender but as a beginner, you need a basic amp that does what it’s told. An affordable little buddy to play those funky tunes.

Here are some of our recommendations – Fender Mustang LT-25Vox Pathfinder ComboOrange Crush 20 Twin-Channel.

All in all, the amp should not be your primary concern as your playing-style and the feel of the guitar is where the actual funk comes from.

Conclusion

Funk music is an amazing beast, and to tame it, you need the right type of equipments. With these guitars you can get very close to the signature sound that you want to achieve. So, use these instruments as the starting point and let you fingers get groovy once you have the right set of gear. All the best and happy funk-ing!

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