Ever since I first figured out how to do those funky flicks of the wrist to get the disco guitar sound I’ve attempted to get close to what Nile Rodgers does in terms of those chops; his technique is very different, unique even. Everything from the late 70s Chic and Sister Sledge stuff to Bowie’s Let’s Dance and the Daft Punk reboot of 2012. He, like many of the other greats, comes with a jazz background, so lots of his chords aren’t the usual E-A-D malarkey, but have the minor and major 7ths, 9th, 11ths, 13ths, the sixths, the 7ths with a suspended 4th, the minor7 flat 5s etc etc. There is no classic chord for Nile, there’s the whole Nile Style of The Hitmaker.
Rodgers rarely just chops at all sixth strings at once in that conventional funk motif, he selects out triads from his chords, uses slides (glissando), hammer-ons, lots of left-handed muting and various other techniques to give it that percussive feel and ultimately the sound comes from all of that combined with his vintage Fender Stratocaster.
Here’s a straight strummed E-major7 as an example classic chord of his. It’s got what I think of as a melancholic, evening summer sound, but is simultaneously uplifting and bright, definitely the bipolar world of jazz. And, that’s followed by a little Rodgers’ type riff I ad libbed. You can also hear me doing this kind of stuff, for better or for worse, on some of the funkier tracks on the Dave Bradley BandCamp page.
UPDATE: It doesn’t use Emaj7 like, this but one of my favourite recent Nile songs is, of course, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”. We’ve performed it at a few live events as a slightly more laid back acoustic, but we’re funking it up with the current incarnation of C5. I recorded a new demo at the weekend and got my daughter to sing the high parts that I simply cannot reach without radical surgery. It’s available in the sciencebase Youtube channel, alhough all you subscribers know that already.
I also videoed myself playing a funking medley of Rodgers’ songs in June 2015