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Basic Arpeggios On 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.

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