Basic Arpeggios On Guitar

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Learn How To Play Basic Arpeggios On The Guitar!

This guitar lesson will be all about basic arpeggios. We will start out by defining what an arpeggio is and then we will learn some basic shapes for couple of major arpeggios. Once we have the shapes down, we will put them in to practice by playing a basic 1, 4, 5 progression in the key of D. You can get access to even more arpeggio guitar lessons when you sign up for the free Practice Routine Generator.

Major chords, or triads, are made up of three notes, the root, 3rd and 5th. An arpeggio can be defined as simply a broken chord. Instead of playing the notes of a chord all at one time, just play them sequentially like a scale. The examples in this lesson are all three-note major arpeggios.

If you are using a pick, there are three basic ways that you can choose from to play these arpeggios. You can use a combination of pick and fingers to play the three notes for each arpeggio or you can use alternate picking to play them. Sweep picking all three notes is also an option. Experiment with each way of playing these arpeggios and see which one works best for you and your particular style of playing.

Let’s take a look the first arpeggio shape, a D major. Place your 4th finger on the 5th fret of the 5th string, 3rd finger on the 4th fret of the 4th string, and your 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string. This is a basic shape for a D major triad. If you play the notes one at a time you get a D major arpeggio. This will serve as the 1 chord in the 1, 4, 5 progression.

The 4 chord in the progression will be a G chord. Let’s learn a shape for a G major arpeggio to cover the 4 chord. Place your 3rd finger on the 5th fret of the 4th string, 2nd finger on the 4th fret of the 3rd string and 1st finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd string. Play those three notes in sequence.

Stay with the same shape you just used for the G major arpeggio and slide it up two frets. You should have your 3rd finger on the 7th fret of the 4th string, 2nd finger on the 6th fret of the 3rd string and 1st finger on the 5th fret of the 2nd string. Play those notes in sequence. This is an A major arpeggio that we will use to cover the 5 chord in the progression.

Go through these three arpeggio shapes and practice them slowly until you get them down. If you have a recorder, try recording the D, G, A chord progression so that you can practice your arpeggios over some real music. This is a very simple way to start understanding how arpeggios work but if you understand this you will have a great foundation to move on to some more complex arpeggios.

Learn how to number your fingers on the guitar and how to number your fretboard!

This Lesson Has 6 Comments

  • Bruce says:

    Hey Nate, How do you get the different sounds from your guitar?
    I was listening to you play Boston and you guitar or Amp sounds just
    like them. So I have a fender squire guitar and a small Line amp.
    So could I buy a effects foot paddle or some inexpensive/ Thanks Bruce

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Bruce,

      Believe it or not I just use a Line 6 POD with a couple of overdrive pedals.

  • Roger Linebarger says:

    Hello Nate, You here all the time Thanks again. I recently purchased your Beginners guitar system, my way of saying thanks for the free weekly lessons on line. I can only say that I wished I’d found your site a long time ago. Being almost 60 years young I hope I can learn to do some picking before the arthritis set in. I hope all the beginner get to try out your guitar system package The DVDs and the workbook go hand in hand and its just great. Keep up the good work and God Bless.

  • Matt says:

    Been playing off and on for 12 years and My pinky finger continually messes me up and my ring finger always tries to reach past it on the fret board to a lower string when playing. Is this just something I have relearn with my hand because I have never been able to change it.

  • josh says:

    hey all this is a little confusing to me i just got my guitar last Christmas if you can help that would be great

  • Pratanu Banerjee says:

    I love guitar and teach it in my institute I love music very much and really appreciate your music and wish you success in the future performances.


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