Published on January 27th, 2014 | by Sam2
Funkify Your Life – More Meters Funk Grooves
Check out the first Meters groove lesson here.
Funk Grooves by the Meters
The Meters are one of the greatest funk groups of all time. They embodied New Orleans funk and brought it to an enormous audience. Guitarist Leo Nocentelli’s grooves are some of the funkiest around, with an unorthodox approach using a lot of muting and repeated notes.
Nocentelli’s gear reports are pretty varied. He claims in an interview with Gibson that he used an ES 175 but with Vintage Guitar magazine, he claims to have used a Telecaster and 335 style Fender called the Starcaster. He definitely uses a Gibson 335 now. You can get his twangy tone using a telecaster or a humbucker guitar with the selector in the middle (using both pickups). His tone was generally clean – likely a Fender Twin but again he claims to have used a ‘red knob’ Fender (which were only made in the later 80s). There is some compression later in the band’s career – check out the last lick below, Out in the Country.
Ease Back Funk Groove
This lick is heard during the organ solo (around 2:11 into the song). It’s in the key of E and is a repeating funk groove pattern. He starts the groove out with an open low E string. He then switches to the IV chord (A major) to play some short two note chords implying the A chord. He uses a half step leading note to go back to the beginning.
Yeah You’re Right
The next two licks come out of the classic New Orleans Second Line rhythm. The second line is named from the New Orleans funeral tradition, where a second line of a the funeral parade is a party celebrating the life of the deceased. The rhythm is very similar to the clave or, for rockers, the Bo Diddley beat. His funk groove starts around 1:20 into the song. This lick uses a D7 chord shape. He starts with the chord a half step below D7 and then slides up to D. He then ends the lick with an Eb7 and brings it back around by going back to the lower chord.
Tippi Toes Groove
The Meters were masters at the chunky sounding funk grooves. Tippi Toes is again coming from the Second Line rhythm. This time, Nocentelli uses the top two notes of the regular D chord. He starts the groove a half step low just like Yeah You’re Right, and ends with the highest note a half step high. He just adds a finger to get the 3rd fret on the high E string instead of moving the whole shape up. Check out the YouTube video to hear just how muted this groove is (it starts at the very beginning). The accents bring out the second line groove.
This is one of the pop-iest songs the Meters recorded, but the guitar plays a nasty funk groove. This one starts in the key of G. Nocentelli doubles the bass line, but fills in with some double stop chording on the top couple of strings. They move up a whole step to the key of A, and play the lick very close to the exact same, but with one slight rhythmic difference. The key to this funk groove is patience- it’s very easy to want to over play in the spaces. But that’s where the tune gets its funkiness – the spaces and waiting to play the exact right thing. I would say that’s Leo Nocentelli’s greatest talent – leaving space and playing simple, funky fills.
Now that we’ve looked at a bunch of Meters funk grooves, which ones do you think are essential to guitarists? Use the comments section to let me know.