Understanding Arpeggios

Recently a friend asked me how to create arpeggios of his own for the sake of fun and showing off. That is what inspired me to write this lesson.

Ultimate Guitar
Arpeggios can be quite a challenge for some people but they are actually really easy to understand, there aren't any lessons that fully explain how to form an arpeggio of any sort. I'm going to talk about this in this lesson. P.S.: you're going to need some knowledge of theory for this lesson. If you are completely new to it I strongly recommed you check out this lesson by the author 'slash_pwns'. Okay so having said all that.. lets get down to what you should know in order to understand this lesson. Triads! You should know the four triads (basic knowledge for chord construction). Since I've mentioned this I might as well give a brief introduction on what arpeggios are. Arpeggios are simply 'broken down' chords. That's right. So when you're playing an arpeggio, you're not strumming a chord. You are playing every single note in that chord seperately and making an arpeggio out of it. Ok, now that you've got that down in your head, here is a list of the four traids (in case you forgot, or don't know) - Major - 1 3 5 Minor - 1 b3 5 Augmented - 1 3 #5 Diminished - 1 b3 b5 These triads go back to the major scale. Major Traid This consists of the first, third and fifth note of the major scale. For example if you are playing in the key of C, then your major traid would be - C E G. Simple ain't it? Minor Triad It's the same as the major triad except the 3rd note is flattened. I'll use C again, C minor triad - C Eb G. This gives you a sad tone when you play it. Augmented Triad This isn't used so much, but I'm guessing George Lynch uses it alot, cause I saw it in an interview, anyway in C. Your Aug. triad would be C E G#. This gives you a more exotic feeling. Play around with it, see how you like it. Diminished Triad 3rd and 5th note flattened. - 1 b3 b5. Very dark and evil sounding. Guitarists like Alexi and Yngwie use this alot.. check them out. Now that we have them out of the way lets talk about arpeggios. In arpeggios you are taking these notes out of the triad and making an arpeggio out of it. How to do it I'll show you. Lets take C again, (we are making a C major arpeggio). You know from the triad that the formula is C E G. Well, apply that to the guitar and you will get this
[e] --------------------8--12--15--12--8-----------------
[B] -----------------8--------------------8--------
[G] --------------9--------------------------9-----
[D] ----------10--------------------------------10---
[A] ---7--10---------------------------------------10--7-
[E] -8----------------------------------------------------8---
I'll explain this. 8th on the E string is a C note, then you can go to the next string and play E on the 7th fret and then G on the 10th. Then you can play it an octave higher or whatever. You can play it in any key, and the C major arpeggio doesnt have to be in this patter always, you can start from the A string. Here's a TAB:
[e] ------------------12--15-------------------------
[B] --------------13----------13---------------------
[G] ----------12------------------12-----------------
[D] ------14--------------------------14-------------
[A] --15----------------------------------15---------
[E] -------------------------------------------------
That's another way of playing it. It all depends on how you wanna pull it off. Oh, and when it comes to giving your arpeggios a minor (sad), augmented (exotic), diminished (dark/evil/sinister) sound, always remember the formula. For a minor, flatten the 3rd note, augmented - sharpen the 5th, diminished - lower the 3rd and 5th. No TAB for those three, I'd just be repeating myself. Check this lesson out.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    love it could you do some lessons about what key signatures are and how they work and stuff like that cause there aren't any good lessons for them anywhere it would be apprieciated
    can we use maj./min. pentatonic for the construction of arpeggios ? or only natural major and minors ?