Guitar Lesson 9 – Guitar Arpeggios – Major And Minor

Greetings, World! Finally our guitar basics course has come to something very interesting in music. Today we will discuss about guitar arpeggios. This is very interesting topic, there is a lot of theory about arpeggios, but today we’ll cover only basic steps. We’ll talk today about major and minor sequences and figure out how it can improve our playing skills.

The main emphasis to today’s lesson will be dedicated to:

  • What’s an arpeggio?
  • What’s the strong side of it?
  • Why is very important to know it?
  • How they can help me?

Ok, let’s figure out what is it and why it’s so powerful.

The word arpeggio came from Italian “arpeggiare” which means like to play on a harp. In other words it’s a way or musical technique of playing any guitar chord notes in sequence. What’s the sequence? Playing in sequence means that you play chord notes not exactly how the chord looks like (for example C major, where notes are – C on 3rd fret of A string, E on 3nd fret of the D, G note of the 3rd string), but they’re played one after another going down mostly from low E string to high E string on the fretboard.

From Wikipedia resource it’s said that this it’s like a “broken chord”. Yes, I agree with what. It’s more like a “broken” which helps to discover many new places and ideas on the fretboard.

The best way to play is to try to see for guitar intervals first. If you can see all intervals and name them then you’ll be able to play automatically fast guitar arpeggios like Yngwie Malmsteem. Watch this video:

Look how Yngwie uses all fretboard playing almost only arpeggios which sound great.

Arpeggios in major sequence

Now let’s talk about major sequence. Like major chords, arpeggios are built of:

  • Tonic,
  • Major third;
  • Fifth guitar.

If this sounds complicated to you then you should start with guitar intervals lesson right here. If anything is unclear to you then stop right away and start from the beginning, because it will be much better way to understand how to learn the guitar right way.

Ok, going back to our lesson, here is the arpeggio for major sequence on low E and A strings. It’s the G major sequence.

It’s 3rd fret on the low E, 2nd fret on the A and 5th fret also on the A strings.

Try to play it and look for the tonic, major third and fifth intervals. At the beginning it’s quite hard to follow theory over practice, but it’s Ok. Your head can explode anytime, but that’s the strong side of the theory.

Next, let’s move this sequence to D and G strings. Once again this is the same playing, but on middle strings.

It’s 5th fret on the D, 4th fret on the G and 7th fret also on the G strings.

Try to see intervals. It will help you easy to build any arpeggiated sequence.

Next, let’s build it on high E and B strings and see what’s happened. Here it is:

It starts on 8th fret of the B, 7th fret on high E and 10th fret on same high E string.

Once again look for intervals and try to memorize them. It helped me to better understand everything what I’m sharing with you today.

You can build your own ways. This is one of the simplest ways to play “broken major chord”. Just follow simple theory and use it your practice guide. In time this will help you discover many interesting ideas based on this simple sequence.

Here’s the basic major arpeggio structure from Low E string to high E. remember it and work on it!

Arpeggios in minor

As an example we’ll take G minor and play all notes in sequence like previous. It is built from:

  • Tonic;
  • Minor third;
  • Fifth major;

The difference here is only half tone of the minor third.

This is the first G minor arpeggiated structure:

It’s the 3rd fret on low E, 1st fret on A and 5th fret on same A string.

Try to see and understand that this is built from tone, minor third and major fifth.

Let’s move on to the middle strings. Here’s the same structure on the D and G strings.

It’s the 5th fret on the D, 3rd fret on the G and 7th on the same G string.

Once again this is the same here.

Finally, here’s the arpeggio on high strings:

It starts on the 8th fret on the B, 6th fret on the high E and 10th fret on the high E string.

Now play all 3 structures down and up again few times. Look how these simple notes of the “broken chord” open new places on the guitar fretboard.

Here’s the basic sequence of the G minor. It’s mostly used in playing. Using this structure you can build your own ideas.

Conclusion of today’s arpeggiated lesson

Playing guitar arpeggios scales opens new sight and new places on the guitar. They help in combining same notes in different ways. You don’t need to invent new licks or complicated playing to impress someone. A group of notes in sequence will help you to do that.

The best thing here is that it really helps in building synchronization of both hands, which is very important in guitar playing. It helps building up skills, speed and it strengthens your hands.

To gain best results from this you need to play it in slow tempo. Do it with metronome at speed of 50 or even at 40. The slower you do that, the better. To gain speed you need to work on very slow, because it allows feeling every move, every note and the stretching. It’s very hard but in time your hands will get used to it and your speed will grow very fast.

The best technique is sweep picking. Watch this video by Tom Hess where he demonstrates a basic view to playing in sweep picking technique:

I like his lessons and I suggest you to check them out also.

Ok, today we have learned following points about guitar arpeggio:

  • It’s the way to play chord and scale notes different;
  • It opens new ideas and places;
  • It helps in synchronizing both hands;
  • It strengthens hands and builds up speed;

Take your time learning this topic. It isn’t easy as it might be and it requires a lot of work. Do it slowly and dedicate your time in it. You will be rewarded and your playing will become better. This will help you to really discover how to learn the guitar.

Ok, till next time. In next lesson we’ll cover importance of guitar chromatics.

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