Two String Arpeggio Riffs

A cool method that helps creating your own riffs.

Ultimate Guitar
This is a very cool technique and will serve two big purposes:
  1. Give you a new songwriting tool
  2. Help fix up what is (probably) a weak area of your playing
What we are looking at with this lesson is creating riffs using arpeggios based on D and A strings. Let's quickly recap the intervals in the arpeggios that we are going to be using today:

Major: 1 3 5

Minor: 1 b3 5

Dimnished: 1 b3 b5

So what we want to do with this idea is map these arpeggios onto two of the bass strings:

And as tab:

Pretty easy so far! Have a go at playing them and get them under your fingers before moving onto the next section.

Got that? Cool!

So what do we do next? Now we want to write a short chord progression and play it using these arpeggio ideas. As an example, let's use:

E- | F∆ | F#dim | G∆ | G#dim

So let's work out the shapes for the above arpeggios:

So now we know what the shapes we want to play are, we are going to add a simple repeating picking pattern to them, which is going to give us the following riff:

Cool! Once you get your head around the process, it's quite easy to repeat.

By Sam Russell
If you want some more ideas on arpeggios and scales, you can download a copy of my free eBook, "The Ultimate Guide to the Modes of the Major, Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor Scales."

25 comments sorted by best / new / date

    What's also useful about this technique is that you can repeat the same pattern up an octave and keep doing these sort of ascending/descending, sweep picking-like motions. It's also worth mentioning you can add in extensions easily. But that's a great lesson anyways.
    There's a Paul Gilbert lesson somewhere on YouTube, where he teaches just that. It's a really killer lick
    Great lesson! Maybe add a short clip of the riff being played or something next time, it would be extremely helpful. Other than that, AWESOME lesson man
    Nice one, this is one of the most interesting lessons I've seen in a long time, that can be applied to vestapol open tunings while playing in various keys using cord shapes with the root on the fifth string
    Is it posseble for you to forward for instance only these 2 standard notations some decimeters above from here towards: To with the question to ask of her to answer, if she will produce 1 print-out of just those 2 standard notations and tabs.
    I think, there are definitely only very limited possibilleties for me overhere in the Grand Café of the Omnizorg, Stationsstraat 30 in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. My acoustic Gretch-guitar of €100,-, lies downstairs from overhere, in between of the laundrette and the garbage-disposalroom, where I emptiy lots of garbage-trollies into larger containers, that smell bad, and could be better be left outside, I am a nervous wreckage, lost a dear familymember, my mother, who was also a cleaning-person, would you think I might ever find her again alive? Also I'm more a beginning guitarist, I will not make a lot of progress this way. Maybe will be able to make a print-out for me, I also suffered to many injections, and feel weak.
    I love using arpeggios in riffs but I tend to use the shapes with the root and 3rd on the lower string and the 5th on the upper string, maybe you can expand on this idea with those shapes in another lesson. If you show the shapes you have here, the ones with R and 3rd on the lower strings, and then the triads across 3 strings along with how they all modify when crossing the B string, folks would have a pretty complete picture of the triads across the whole neck. I do use the shapes you show here whenever I play in the upper register or even the lower register when I'm in "lead mode" because you can really get some speed sweeping the first two notes and grabbing the third one with an upstroke. Good lesson!
    That's a cool idea - I'll definitely be using that in a future lesson. Thanks!
    Maybe someone will print-out your lesson, which is partially difficult to understand for me, I will have to try sending an email. I have lots of tabs and standard notations only stashed in my maps in
    I just appeared unregistered, for forgot to log in, before I wrote my comment. There is not really any reason for joy in my life.