How to Play Jazz Guitar Arpeggios

Jazz guitar arpeggios are an important resource for guitarists of any skill level, background or experience level, as they are the most direct way to outline a chord progression in your single-note soloing lines.

Not only will a solid knowledge of jazz guitar arpeggios allow you to improvise over every chord change, but they will also open up your neck and make it easy for you to visualize notes, chords and changes over the entire fretboard.

Arpeggios are basically the notes of a given chord, but instead of being plucked or strummed all at the same time, we simply play each note, one at a time, in order from the lowest to the highest.

So in this case, we play the Root, then the 3rd, then 5th and finally the 7th of each chord.

If we want to play a longer jazz guitar arpeggio, we just start on the next highest root and repeat the process.

There are a number of different fingerings for any jazz guitar arpeggios, and in the examples below I have included 3 different lengths, one, two and three octave, as well as three different positions, starting on the index finger, middle finger and pinky finger of the fretting hand.

 

******

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios – Fingerings

 

 

Have a question or comment about these arpeggios? Visit theĀ Jazz Guitar Arpeggio thread at the MWG Forum.



6 Comments

  1. Chris, January 16, 2012:

    Hi Mark, I just found your site and this is what I’ve been studying for a while, but haven’t wrote out the octave or two octave patterns. I want to go further and understand what is the next step. Do you have the next arp patterns written out for guitar as far as where I should go from here. I really am having a hard time understanding where I should go next. I know of superimposing these over chords when with a band, but I am a solo musician and am not in a band. I would like to make the most out of my music without a band and be able to write. I don’t ever comment on websites or ask for help, but for the inquisitive guitarist if you are listening this IS the way to apply this to guitar as Mark has done. The best website I’ve found yet. Simple a gold mine. Thank you Mark

  2. Chris, January 16, 2012:

    Sorry about that MATT thank’s again Chris
    I hope my words express more than my lack of attention of your name.

  3. Matthew Warnock, January 16, 2012:

    Hey Chris,
    no worries on the name! As far as what to do next, have you checked out extended arpeggios, up to the 13th? Or 3 to 9 arpeggios? Those would be two good options to look at next in your practicing. Check out these links for more info on those two techniques.

    http://mattwarnockguitar.com/building-bebop-vocabulary-3-to-9-arpeggios

    http://mattwarnockguitar.com/extending-arpeggios-with-chordal-pairing

    Hope that helps!

  4. Arash, November 17, 2013:

    Hi Matt, love your blog !

    I’ve learnt my arpeggios by studying harmony, and as a sight reader I can find all the notes accross the neck in random combinations. However, I see that a lot of players learn arpeggios by shapes (CAGED system) rather than memorizing the notes on the neck/chord formulas. It seems that this is a quicker process muscle memory wise, but many players also talk about how this approach gets them stuck in ruts and playing in ‘boxes’.

    Am I missing out by not incorporating shapes/patterns in my playing and rather doing it the traditional/classical way ?

    Cheers !

  5. Matt Warnock, November 17, 2013:

    Hi Arash. I think it is good to learn both ways. It is always valuable to learn the names of the notes that you are playing, but sometimes when you are soloing using shapes can be beneficial as they allow you to visualize, hear and think in chunks of notes rather than one note at a time. So I would say start to learn arpeggio shapes on the guitar, but don’t forget the names of the notes as you are learning them.

  6. arash, November 17, 2013:

    Awesome, will do. Thanks for your reply !

Add comments about this page