The rhythm guitar playing in Funk 49 has a lovely feel and a snappy delivery. It may seem like an easy part to play but, as ever, the devil is in the detail. There are plenty of subtle nuances in the way the semiquaver rhythms are delivered. One of the most important aspects of playing good rhythm guitar is to keep the strumming hand moving, up and down, in time, regardless of whether it is needed to hit the strings or not. If you keep the strumming hand moving it works very much like a pendulum. It is very difficult to nail a groove consistently by guessing with single strums here and there. Using the strumming hand to ‘ghost’ the rhythmic sub-division is a far more mechanical way of making sure your timekeeping is sound.
The basic riff from the verse part is a repeating, two-bar pattern that is played with a 16th note (semiquaver) feel. This means that all the 8th notes (quavers) are played with a down stroke and the 16th notes that fall outside of this are played with up stokes. Check out the strumming directions in bar 3 and you will see the part is played with a variety of down and up strums depending on where the rhythms are situated in the bar. The length of the chords is also a factor and can be controlled with the pressure you apply with the fretting hand fingers. If you release the pressure off of the fretting hand, but leave the fingers in contact with the strings, the chord will be cut short and the strings will be muted to create that lovely feel.