What guitar for soul and funk, rnb etc?


This is my personal Funk & Soul machine:


Not a current guitar, but (in the S-Trem version) within your budget, and perfect for clean, funky sounds. And you will surely stand out with it, no matter how big the band grows :D

That just scared me.

Of course you can make anything work. Catfish Collins played a lot of Jazzmaster; Freddie Stone played a lot of Tele; Jimmy Nolen played a bunch of ES-175.

But when I think about funk, and certainly funk rhythm guitar, I first think of a 60s or 70s Strat, maybe even a hard tail, and a clean cutting amp -- a Twin Reverb or a Dual Showman or, heck, even a JC-120. Ernie Isley, Nile Rodgers, Curtis Mayfield, Eddie Hazel, all played a bunch of Strat. Nolen sometimes played a Japanese Strat copy.

Anything can work and it all depends. And I guess it matters how you and the guitar guitarists are going to divvy up the parts -- funky can involve some pretty dense rhythm guitar interlocking arrangements. Sometimes you might want to really blend tones, sometimes you might find you want contrast. I bet between the 335 and the Strat you'd have it all covered.

Nice thoughts.

As a guy who plays a ton of soul and funk and sings - STRAT ALL DAY - ESP the 60s and 70s Reissues. They have balls without being too thin. Maybe HSS or put a SC sized HB in when you need it. A good amp with solid cleans and you are there. Get some good dirt boxes!

I sing and quite often I am in groups with NO guitar and I get to truly listen. I always enjoy the Strat guys the most. Esp when they have a good clean amp and dirt box OR a channel switcher with wicked cleans like a Mesa or Bogner.

Teles, 335's they are ALL good. But when it comes to tone the Strat always sits right in the mix, can do the notched sounds and its rarely ever harsh or too raunchy or thick on certain passages. As an example, I have a guy using an LP on a Jackson 5 tune and its too much sometimes.


Silver Supporting Member
Strat or Tele for me. Although I had a bigger pedalboard here was my setup in the funk band I was in.

Strat/Tele > Demeter Compulator > Roland Cube 60 (Set on their blackface tone).

Thats pretty much my rehearsal rig (except I use an m9 in front with the tube comp on). I love it. Last night it was the tele and it just killed...although my strat is still my #1.

Nick Sorenson

Rocketfire Guitars
Silver Supporting Member
SSS Strat for me. I like the Middle pickup and the combo positions. And a MuTron!


Easy, (unless you ARE Steve Cropper)...AmStd. Strat. (HSS/SSS), a Clean Boost/driver/ Chorus/ 1x12, 1x15, 4x10 amp. of choice. Then you can go out and 'Play that funky Music'...


IMO, strats are about the least funky guitar out there.

Go with a tele, it'll cut better.


Leo Nocentelli sez Gibson 335

Binky Griptite sez Gibson L-4

Check out Curtis Mayfield playing a strat fingerstyle at around minute 33 on this clip:

Ike Turner sez "I'll take a Strat and a Beatles wig please."

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Check out a Tokai or Suhr Strat, or Fender MIM and upgrade it if you find a good one to start with.

P90 guitars work nicely for soul as well. Maybe a Tele with P90 if you need more grit/power than a Strat?


Using a Collings 290 for this. I also like that the neck, scale, etc. are the same as my #1, '59 CS historic 335.


I'll be joining a like soulfunk band soon and I want another guitar...At the moment I got a 335 but I want something more comfy and with single coils...We're like 8 people in the band so I need something that stands out! What do you think? I could spend like 1300 dollars...and be specific dont just say "a strat" or something :p THanksS! :munch

You already got the right guitar for the job: the 335. In a band context a 335 eats alive a strat for soulfunk in my opinion. There're strong chances that a strat disapears in a 8 people band.


Silver Supporting Member
It's about the playing, of course.

That said, awesome funk has been played on all styles of electric guitar.

I now play a 335 style axe. Once you get used to using one, it's hard to go back to a strat or tele. You lose so much beef, particularly for playing lead.

BUT...it's hard to beat a strat for chording in that style. Nothing replaces that sparkly, round, percussive quality of a strat for soul-style comping.

dewey decibel

A 335s fine. This question is kind of like asking, "What kind of jazz guitar should I buy?" It really depends on what kind of soul/funk sounds you're going for. Drop some artists and we can help you better.


Silver Supporting Member
Lotsa good advice, but it all adds up to: you can do it with anything, just find something you like. I like a Tele, 335, and Strat in that order. Really depends on the flavor. A Les Paul can work too, seen that many a time... What about a 339, just to mix things up here? (Oh wait, you already have a 335)

I guess if my current guitar was a 335 and I was shopping, I'd go Strat just for more contrast. Tele & 335 can do lot of the same stuff.


Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B
Gold Supporting Member
My number one Soul/Funk/R&B guitar is my American Deluxe Stratocaster HSS QMT (quilt maple top) or FMT (flame maple top).

The S-1 switch gives me 10 pickup selection options with both series and parallel available. With the stealth button pushed in, the neck pickup has great Jazz tone as well. Overall it has enough flexibility to play any tune I'm likely to encounter in that genre from Chic, Rick James, or James Brown to Funkadelic.

The neck is one of the best Strat necks I've ever played and the satin finish means that it doesn't get all gummy in the many humid days that we have above 95 degrees (35c) here in Philadelphia. The ebony fretboard and medium jumbo frets make bends a thing of beauty, and the maple top is icing on the cake.

They don't make them any more so you'd have to find one used. If you do a saved search on eBay they pop up on occasion. I recently bought a red one as a backup and practice guitar and got it dirt cheap for what it is. Make sure it's an American Deluxe, not just the regular (and imported) FMT or QMT.


Another somewhat obscure model I love is the Les Paul Junior Special Plus. It has a flat AA maple top and the '60s neck carve that's like my 335 so it's easy to transition between the two. The neck pickup is great for Jazz to Funk and the bridge is great for solos. To me, it sounds much better clean than a Les Paul Standard or Custom.

I recently picked up a second one that I plan to put Fralin P-92s into that will make it sound more like a traditional Junior. It should make a wonderful Funk and Blues guitar with spank but more girth than a traditional single coil guitar.


I know you were joking about the Dean ML but I actually had the Dean USA Custom Shop build me a Korina Dean Z (Explorer) with Fralin HO Humbuckers just for something different to play Funk and R&B with. The coil tapped neck pickup gives me a single coil sound when it's needed. I had the pickups wired out of phase like on the original '70s Deans so by using the volume knobs I can get all kinds of EQ options when both pickups are selected....great Nile Rogers tones are available at the twist of a volume knob and it's a real visual standout.

The Dean neck is spectacular and I ordered it with an ebony board and locking grovers. The finish is so smooth and glossy that you can see my window blinds reflected in the finish to the right of the pickups. All in all it's one absolutely wonderful guitar for Funk and Soul.


I figured that if Albert King can play the Blues on a Flying V, why can't I play Soul on an Explorer? Of course I'm sure that being an old geezer from the ghetto in Philadelphia helps. ;)


I don't think strats are the best guitars for funk. And you definately don't need a bridge HB to play funk.

You already have a GREAT funk guitar with the 335. Use the middle position and back off the volume pots a bit. It helps to have a clean amp with some wattage. I'm assuming you don't want breakup.

Tele's are also fantastic funk guitars, they cut through easily and have a faster feel to the attack compared to strats or 335's. Nile Rodgers had a HARDTAIL strat :)


Silver Supporting Member
One thing to think about: if there's no keys in the band a 335 will help fatten the sound out. If there is keys then cutting through them will be a priority. The 335 will still work but a tele will really bring it home.


Lotsa good advice, but it all adds up to: you can do it with anything, just find something you like. I like a Tele, 335, and Strat in that order. Really depends on the flavor. A Les Paul can work too, seen that many a time... What about a 339, just to mix things up here? (Oh wait, you already have a 335)

I guess if my current guitar was a 335 and I was shopping, I'd go Strat just for more contrast. Tele & 335 can do lot of the same stuff.

THIS :agree

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