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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.

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  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.

    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 !

  7. scott johnson, December 11, 2014:

    Thank you for the free lessons!

  8. edward topolnicki, December 12, 2014:

    Hi Matt
    Love your piece on jazz arpeggios. After trying out a few 6 string roots and 5th string roots I noticed that the notes matched up with the dots on the guitar neck except fot the 7 note. Oof course the is a half step correction going from the 3rd string to the 2nd string. So all a player needs to do is learn the chord formulas to play these arpegggios.

  9. edward topolnicki, December 12, 2014:

    Oh I forgot to add the the dot method only applies to the following chords. A B C E G. But thats enough to get started. Once you can play these proficiently you can play any chord arpeggio.

  10. Elian Carbone, January 23, 2015:

    Hey Matt! I was curious whether or not you stick to your scale mode fingering formula for arpeggios as well. (i.e. major mode derivatives starting on the middle finger/minor and diminished with the first finger). I ask because you present fingerings that don’t fit into this formula. What do you suggest? Thanks!!!

  11. Matt Warnock, January 29, 2015:

    Hey, I present a number of fingerings since not everyone prefers my method, as you mentioned. But in my own playing I do stick to those fingerings a lot of the time for arps and scales. Of course there are exceptions, but that system tends to work well for me.

  12. igor, May 23, 2015:

    Hi Matt,
    Can pls point me in the right direction. Which topic to search for ( superimposing?) to get via like slightly weird harmony. I don’t mean the technical part but rather the “sound”, strange lydial like I guess. What chord-scale combinations lead to that? I know it is off topic but is it the business of superimposing arps, scales over a certain type of a chord? You can clearly hear this type of flavor in orianthi highly strung song on YouTube. Pls help!!!!

  13. Matt Warnock, May 24, 2015:

    hey Igor

    Check out these lessons, they should help out.

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