When soloing, major arpeggios can provide you with a
number of phrasing options, along side standard scale movements.
lesson is about understanding how major arpeggios are formed on the
guitar fretboard and how they work over major chords.
We'll look at
breaking down arpeggio patterns in different positions across the
fretboard and tying them all together into one large pattern across
the entire fretboard.
Remember, where there's a chord shape or scale pattern, there's an
Seeing it in this way will help you pull arpeggios right out of the
chords and scales you already know, wherever you might be playing them
on the fretboard.
behind major arpeggios
Starting with the basic theory, major arpeggios consist of what is
known as the major triad.
These are three intervals as follows...
- Major 3rd
(3) - 5th
All major scales
(e.g. Ionian, Mixolydian, Phrygian Dominant etc.) use
these triad tones, so when learning any major
scale pattern, all you have to do is pick out the root, 3rd and 5th and
have your major arpeggio.
For example, take the 1st position pattern of the major scale and
see if you can identify the major triad...
So this would be our first major arpeggio pattern...
Bear in mind the arpeggio doesn't have to be played in that order, from
low to high or high to low, nor do all 6 strings have to be played, but
this is just one pattern we can visualise around a fuller scale pattern
For example, if we were just playing 3 note arpeggios, we could play
the following combinations...
could repeat these patterns or just use them once to link to other
Or we could move up and down in a repeating pattern, most commonly used
with sweep picking...
R35 3 R35 3 R35 3
Or we could play more complex arpeggio phrases as follows...
R53 5R 53 5
R 3 R 53 5 3 R
5 3 R 5 3 R 3 5
It's really down to your experimentation, but try to apply different
combinations to the patterns you're about to learn. This also makes a
great warmup exercise!
Now we know what makes up a major arpeggio, we can use the scale
patterns we learned in the major
to build arpeggios right across the fretboard, based on those 3 root
note positions on the E A and D strings.
Once you know the root note
of the chord you're playing over, you can find
that note in several
positions across the fretboard. These will become the
for our arpeggio patterns...
For example, if our root note was G,
we should know all the positions for G
across the fretboard (however, in this lesson we'll only be focussing
on the E A and D
We can now build our arpeggio patterns around
each of these positions. Remember, these patterns can be split up into
2 or 3 string arpeggios - you don't have to play all 6 strings in the
root major arpeggio patterns
find there is more than one position to play the same note in,
e.g. the 5th in the above pattern can be played on the G or B string.
Learn both fingerings so you have both options.
important to be able to visualise these patterns in any key. They're
patterns, so when the root note changes, the interval
relationships remain intact and move with it.
Try breaking them
down into 3 string groupings. A lot of the time that's all you need, as
smaller arpeggios are great for leading in to a larger soloing phrase
as we'll look at in a later lesson.
Back in the key of G again, here's what we've built (R35)...
Remember, you don't have to start
on the root note when playing an arpeggio phrase, but just knowing
where it is gives you that reference point to help you find your
Spend some time studying the positions and then how
they all string together. A good tip for helping you with this is to
break it down in different ways.
Try memorising the R 3 5 interval sequence
across each individual string.
Pick out just the R and 3, or just the 3 and 5
to test your knowledge.
Concentrate on 2 strings at a time, then 3,
then 4 etc.
Even with just 10 minutes study time every day you'll soon see progress!
arpeggio guitar backing tracks
The tracks below are based around one single chord, allowing you to
test your knowledge of the above patterns and get an ear for how the
major triad tones interact with major backing chords.
The first track is in the key of C, the second in the key of G (which
is the example we used
earlier) and the third in the key of C#, just to make things a little
trickier! Find the root
notes and make use of the patterns in this lesson.
Right click and "save as" to download these tracks. Enjoy!