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Home > Theory / Scales > Arpeggios

Beginner Arpeggios Lesson Series


Note: if you know the basics (i.e. what arpeggios are) and just want to get stuck in, head down to the beginner arpeggios series contents.

Welcome. This beginner arpeggios series will introduce you to arpeggios on guitar and get you playing some key patterns over backing tracks.

Arpeggios can be seen as just another way to navigate the fretboard during your solo. As you'll see/hear, they can really help you "connect the dots" as your improvisation skills develop.

Arpeggios only use the tones that emphasise a particular chord flavour, so there's less risk of tredding "outside" into dissonance.

Before we delve right in, a short introduction to arpeggios on guitar and their function.

We'll then move on to learning some essential arpeggio patterns and finally how to incorporate them into solos.

Beginner arpeggios video introduction

Guitar arpeggio basics

Arpeggios are chords played one note at a time. In other words, each note of the chord is cleanly separated, one after the other, rather than letting them ring out together. It's therefore often referred to as a broken chord or arpeggiated chord. The tab below shows a standard E minor chord followed by its arpeggio equivalent in the same position...

E minor chord and arpeggio equivalent

This means if you already know some chord forms on the fretboard, you'll automatically know their arpeggios. Where there's a chord, there's an arpeggio. However, there are more economical fingerings we can use especially for arpeggios, as we can use more than one note on each string, unlike standard chords. I'll show you some key patterns throughout the beginner arpeggios series below.

Just as we have major and minor chords, we also have major and minor arpeggios. There are also 7th and extended arpeggios just as there are chords. So, it makes sense that learning arpeggios goes hand in hand with learning how chords are constructed (covered in the chord theory section).

The function of arpeggios on guitar

When used in solos, arpeggios create phrases just like standard scale runs. The only difference is we're being more selective of the key tones that make up a particular chord flavour (major, minor, major 7th, minor 7th etc.).

Whereas regular scale phrases tend to "noodle" and glance over non-chord tones (often referred to as passing tones) in a linear movement, arpeggios move in a more harmonically defined way, as you're only touching on those key chord intervals within the scale.

Playing arpeggios is like "connecting the dots" to build up the picture of a chord.

The arpeggio can lead in to, or lead out of a fuller scale phrase and it can connect phrases within the solo. It can span just one string or all 6 strings. You can sweep pick them or alternate pick them in a more traditional fashion.

Arpeggios can also reinforce key changes or even just follow each chord change.

We'll look at the different ways you can weave arpeggios into your guitar solos in the final part.

Beginner arpeggios series contents

Work through the lessons below in the order they're presented. Take your time (there is no exam deadline!). There are backing tracks to help you practise the patterns you learn and encourage you to try out your own ideas. It won't be long before you're including arpeggios in the solos you write almost as second nature. It's simply another soloing tool at your disposal...

1. Major Arpeggios

2. Minor Arpeggios

3. 7th Arpeggios

4. Arpeggios in Solos

More advanced stuff...

5.
Tapping Arpeggios

6. 3 String Sweeps

7. 4 String Sweeps

8. 5 String Sweeps


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