8 May 2009

Guitar Chord Arpeggios

This lesson introduces beginner guitar players to arpeggio playing, a chord playing technique often used on ballads, slower songs and classical guitar.

Guitar Arpeggio Picking

Playing arpeggios on your guitar is a picking hand technique used to play the notes of a chord one at a time. You can create many simple or intricate accompaniments with arpeggio picking, and even mix it up with strumming or other techniques.

Arpeggios are used in many styles of music, often on slower tempo songs such as ballads. But it is also a useful technique to add a more interesting accompaniment to faster songs.

In this lesson you're going to learn a couple of simple arpeggio patterns to get you started. Once you've learned them you can try applying them to chord progressions or songs you know.

Basic 4/4 Arpeggio Pattern

This first example shows you a common arpeggio pattern you can play on many chords.



The example pattern starts on an A major chord. Notice when you move to the D major chord how you change the bass note to play the new chord's root. The other notes are all be played on the bottom three strings exactly as they are played on the A chord.

Use this same idea to play the pattern over any chord. Change the bass note to use the chord's root and use the same picking pattern on the bottom three strings.

Picking Tips

Here are some tips to help you play this arpeggio pattern with your fingers. To pick the bass note always use your thumb, pick down on the string.

To play the notes on the bottom three strings use your index, middle and third fingers, one for each string. Curl the tips of the three fingers slightly just below the strings; you can rest the tips lightly on them. Then pick up on the strings one at a time by curling the respective finger.

It takes a little while to master the finger pattern so go very slowly at first. It's worth a little effort though as once you master it you will be able to pick fast with very little movement.

You can play the pattern with a pick too. Use an alternating pattern of down and up strokes to play the notes, down strokes on the beat and up strokes in between the beats.

You will probably have a little trouble with the alternate picking at first, especially when you have to change strings. But in the long run alternating the pick will let you play fast and more accurately.

Over To You

Guitar chord arpeggios will add variety to your rhythmic palette and enable you to play more varied and interesting backup parts on guitar. Practice the above example using both thumb and finger picking and a guitar pick to develop your arpeggio picking skills.

When you are comfortable with the examples try playing them over more chord progressions or songs you know.


Guitar article writing: Gary Fletcher writes quality, original content for your guitar web sites. Discover guitar writing services for web sites, blogs and newsletters. Visit http://www.writescribe.com/guitar to learn more.


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