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Understanding Arpeggios

Arpeggios Guitar Lesson

What is an arpeggio?

An arpeggio is simply the notes of a chord mapped out across the fretboard. I like to call them a broken chord as the notes of a chord are individually played as opposed to being strummed all at the same time.

What’s the difference between a scale and an arpeggio?

A scale will typically have more notes from the key compared to an arpeggio which just has the core notes taken from the chord. For example, the C Major scale contains the notes (C D E F G A B C), where a C Major arpeggio only has the notes (C E G) (135.)

How are arpeggios applied to your guitar playing?

If I list some common uses of arpeggios, this might help you understand their importance and how they can supplement your own guitar playing.

 The most common uses for an arpeggio are to target the chord tones of a particular chord. This means with an arpeggio as mentioned above you are only targeting the chord tones taken from a chord. If someone is playing a C Major chord and you solo over the top mainly targeting the CEG notes, well it’s not going to sound much better than that really.

 In order of importance these notes are valued higher than any of the other available notes you would find in the full C Major scale. Another common use for an arpeggio would be to break out of your scalic shapes allowing you to explore wider intervallic leaps and break out of the box.

Finally, arpeggios can be used to play over an awkward chord found in a chord progression. You might solo in one scale for the full improvisation as the chord progression allows you to. However, there might be an awkward chord to play over that is not from the key, using an arpeggio here to tackle that tricky chord would be my much-preferred approach.

Below I break each arpeggio down into their Major or minor families and list the appropriate intervals for each type of arpeggio. Digesting the information below will definitely earn you some extra guitar brownie points.

“Thanks for reading this months blog post all about arpeggios. If you’d like to watch a full video lesson on this subject head over to our Facebook page.”

Until next lesson, stay safe and we look forward to seeing you all very soon. 

Many Thanks, 

Rich @ MGTB 🎸 

Director Richard Hillyer

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Arpeggio Shapes

A Major Scale Notes & Intervals

1 ®

2

3

4

5

6

7

A

B

C#

D

E

F#

G#

A Major

1 ®

3

5

A

C#

E

A Major Seventh

1 ®

3

5

7

A

C#

E

G#

A Dominant Seventh

1 ®

3

5

b7

A

C#

E

G

A Minor

1 ®

b3

5

A

C

E

A Minor Seventh

1 ®

b3

5

b7

A

C

E

G

Diminished

1 ®

b3

b5

A

C

Eb

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