Beginner Funk Bass Made Simple (Bootsy’s Funk Formula)

You can be a total beginner, know no theory, and still use this formula to kill it with beginner funk bass and beyond.

Jump right in - 0:46
Hear Bootsy Collins talk about “the one” - 3:02
Learn the groove we’re gonna play - 5:27
Slow playalong - 8:18
Find the right notes with the Funk Box - 9:20
Medium playalong - 10:40
Full playalong - 11:21
Test out the Funk Box yourself - 13:14

Sheet music + tab for our funky playalong:

Had you ever heard Bootsy or anyone else talk about “the one” before? Did this lesson help clarify what that means?


Nicely done, @JoshFossgreen :slight_smile:

Gives me some good ideas for getting into a different music style.

Thanks and all best, Joe


Agreed! I loved the bit of music knowledge/history you detailed with this as well as the instruction for the riff. Though it’s a wee bit tough for me at this stage (I’m hoping my left hand “gets” it pretty soon!), it’s certainly fun stuff to give a try!



Killer video.
Killer production.

Also - Bootsie reigns supreme.

So does the formula. My first time seeing that.


+1 here, super happy to see these new videos.


Thanks everybody!

@Gio, isn’t that old Bootsy clip at 3:40 so cool! That inspired the whole video, trying to break down what he was saying without any gaps.

Funny story I discovered while researching this video (I forget which Bootsy interview it was in) - apparently when Bootsy met George Clinton, he had to teach him where the one was. Like, meaning that George Clinton couldn’t count 4/4 time when they first started. Pretty wild.

So apparently “on the one” wasn’t just a way of making the music feel funky, it also had a practical role of keeping funky fellas from getting lost!



Dude is so deep in outer space - he knows the 1, feels the 1, but doesn’t count the 1… That’s a trip in and of itself.


I mean, maybe he wasn’t feeling the one clearly when he first got together with Bootsy? I don’t know what he’d put out before then, if anything? Anyway, as I understand the story, it’s something Bootsy got him into in the early days, so I doubt there are any Parliament records that are pre-George-knowing-where-the-one-is.


Duuuude. This needs its own documentary.
(start movie trailer voice:)
The One.
A Film about Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, The P-Funk, and the Most Important Beat in the History of Funk.


I’m on board as long as they get Laurence Fishburne to narrate. :slight_smile:


This lesson rocked! Just got a bass a few days ago, found this on YouTube, and started playing it. I’d never even picked up a bass prior to a week ago. Complete beginner, just started learning electric guitar 3 weeks ago, and was somehow drawn to learning bass concurrently. Just signed up for your course, and love it so far. Thanks for putting your time into this man!


Hey, @Vik . . . welcome to the Forums :slight_smile:

You’ll definitely enjoy the course and will get a lot out of it.

I know I sure am! All best and good luck, Joe


Are there any modern songs with the ONE or is it mainly an old school thing?

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“Uptown Funk” does a similar thing. What makes it sound like funk to me is that strong beat on the one every other measure that brings it home.


Agreed . . . and it’s a great little box diagram that I’ve been having some fun with too! Very useful concept. All best, Joe :slight_smile:

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Modern music does this all the time - especially dance music.
EDM is basically THE ONE… just louder… and with less sway in the hips.
Any dance-based song is all about these big hits on the one.
Check out some of the favorites and see if you can find it. If not - link something and I’ll check it out.


That’s awesome to hear Vik! Glad the lesson made sense to you even though you’re just starting, that’s what I was going for.

That’s great, you’ll be the kind of guitar player that bassists like to play with. :slight_smile:

And @Chris, it’s definitely still a thing, especially since Bootsy is still putting out records! Here’s a track from 2017: (and yeah that’s Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten sneaking around on the track…)


Ha! Wellllll… that’s kinda cheating - since it’s still Bootsy.
But… dang. Go Bootsy.
Yabba dabba dooo, baby.


@JoshFossgreen, I’ve been busy going back over your course and have more “music theory” questions. I’m still trying to grasp some of those concepts (and I understand you are presenting this video outside of the lessons).

At around 10 min, you define the “funk box” shape as “root, 5th, flat 7th, and octave” but that would only apply to the Major Scales because of the “flat 7th”, right? You didn’t specify that in the video, but the key signature of the tune shows it is D minor.

So, could you also say that the shape is “root, fifth, seventh, octave” of any Minor scale?

Finally, would I be correct in assuming that saying “flat 7th” implies only Major scales?

Thanks very much and I appreciate your patience, Joe

(P.S. and I thought physical chemistry was difficult lol :smile: )


I can chime in for the time being, @Jazzbass19

So, there are chords and there are scales. A major scale has 7 notes with the following “spacing” between the notes (starting from the root): W-W-H-W-W-W-H (W: whole tone step, H: half tone step). This is true for every major scale, and the H’s are never anywhere else than where they are in the sequence given above (for major scales). The H at the end is actually the half tone step from the 7th to the octave (root). Because it is a half tone step it also means the 7th in a major scale is a major 7th and NOT a minor 7th (you could also say it is a “normal” 7th and NOT a flat 7th).

Take a C major scale: C - D - E - F - G - A - B. As you can see, the “B” is a “normal” 7th. The flat 7th would be a Bb.

On to chords: most chords are thirds stacked on top of each other. A C major chord is C - E - G, two thirds stacked on top of each other (you’ll note that all notes are from the C major scale here, namely the third and the fifth). If you want to expand this C major chord, you can keep stacking thirds on top (the next one would be seventh, then the ninth, the eleventh and so on - jazz musicians do that all the time). Thus, the C major 7 chord is: C - E - G - B (again, these are all from the C major scale).

Now, minor scales are a bit more complicated as there are three: natural, harmonic and melodic minor. The one we learned in the course is the natural minor, which has a flat third, a flat sixth, and a flat seventh. So, the natural C minor scale would be: C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb.

A C minor chord is: C - Eb - G, and a C minor 7 chord is C - Eb - G - Bb

But, nobody prevents you from creating a major chord with a flat 7th - that is called a “dominant chord” (e.g., C 7: C - E - G - Bb); or, you could also create a minor chord with a major seventh - that is called a minor major seventh chord (but those are not used that often in popular music, mostly in jazz).

So, if the music you are supposed to create a bass line for is using standard chords (without the seventh), then you don’t have to worry at all, as the funk box avoids the third (and the sixth) - i.e. it works for major and minor chords.
If there are chords with the seventh involved, then the funk box works for minor 7 chords and dominant 7 chords, but NOT for major 7 chords.

Blues, for examples, uses typically only dominant chords, so the funk box works perfectly.

Sorry for the long post. I hope this makes some sense?! I also hope @JoshFossgreen will chime in and correct any blunders I might have made here (but I do hope I got it right :smile:)