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The Complete Guide to Guitar Arpeggios

There’s no better way to directly solo over chord progressions than to use guitar arpeggios.

By using arpeggios in your solos, you’ll be targeting the chord tones of each change in the progression.

This will directly outline those chords while you build interest and creativity in your guitar solos.

While you can use arpeggios to hit every chord in your solos, that’s easier said than done.

 

Often times you’ll need to change arpeggios with each new chord in your solos.

Not easy.

 

With a strong understanding of guitar arpeggios, and effective exercises to work on in the practice room, you’ll be nailing those chord tones in no time.

 

This lesson will teach you how to play essential guitar arpeggios, multiple fingerings for each arpeggio, must know arpeggio exercises, and sample licks to study in your guitar practice routine.

As well, each arpeggio comes with a jam track that you can use to practice using arpeggios in your lead guitar lines right away.

So, grab you favorite guitar, crank the amp, and start your journey to guitar arpeggio mastery!

 

Free Guitar eBook:Download a free guitar PDF that’ll teach you how to play Jazz chords, chord progressions, solo with arpeggios and scales, and walk basslines.

 

 

 

Guitar Arpeggios (Click to Jump to Each Section)

 

 

 

 

How to Use This Guide

 

When first learning how to play guitar arpeggios, it can seem like an uphill climb.

But.

With the right exercises, and some time in the practice room, you’ll be able to memorize and solo with arpeggios much sooner than later.

When working through any arpeggio in this lesson, use the following practice outline to ensure you get the most out of your guitar arpeggio practice time.

 

  • Pick an arpeggio family to focus on, i.e. Maj7
  • Learn one shape from that family on guitar
  • Put on the Cmaj7 jam track and solo with that shape
  • Move on to other keys on the fretboard and solo
  • When comfortable move on to the next Maj7 shape
  • When you have a few one-octave shapes, and one two-octave shape, move to the next family

 

As you can see, by working each arpeggio with these steps, you’ll memorize the shapes, and work on soloing over chords with those same shapes on the guitar.

Next, when you have a few arpeggios from two or more families, you can use this approach to practicing guitar arpeggios.

 

  • Pick one shape for two families of arpeggios, i.e. Dm7 and G7
  • Practice those shapes with the 4 variations presented below
  • Put on a Dm7-G7 jam track and solo over that chord progression
  • Pick two more shapes, one for each chord, and repeat

 

Again, with this approach, you’ll internalize the arpeggio shapes, plus work on changing arpeggios over chord progressions.

When two chords is comfortable, you can move on to three and then four chords.

From there, you can move on to full songs, such as 12-Bar Blues songs, or Jazz standards such as “Summertime.”

Now that you know how to practice the arpeggios in this guide, you can learn more about the 4 variations in this last set of exercises.

 

 

 

jazz-guitar-arpeggios

 

 

 

Practicing Chord Progressions With Arpeggios

 

The first exercise that you can do once you have learned your any guitar arpeggios is to apply those shapes to common chord progressions.

When you apply arpeggios to chord progression, there are four main variations that you should study to get the most out of this exercise in the woodshed.

These guitar arpeggio patterns are:

 

  • Ascending Arpeggios
  • Descending Arpeggios
  • Alternating One Up and One Down
  • Alternating One Down and One Up

 

By working these four variations in your arpeggios studies, you’ll prevent yourself from falling into the trap of always starting on the root note in your solos, and provide yourself with improvisational material at the same time.

Now that you know how to practice these arpeggios over changes, let’s take a look at 5 essential chord progressions that you can use to study arpeggios in your practice routine.

As well as working each exercise from a technical standpoint, in 12 keys, with a metronome, and with all four variations listed above, make sure to put on backing tracks and apply these patterns to your soloing studies as well.

 

One of the biggest mistakes guitarists make in the practice room is that we run exercises from a technical perspective, but don’t improvise.

 

Then we wonder why we sound like exercises when soloing over tunes in a jam or out on a gig.

Improvisation is a learned skill.

Make sure to practice it as much, or more, than your technical exercises to ensure that you don’t get handcuffed the next time you are invited to a jam session or are out on the bandstand.

 

 

Chord Progression 1 – ii V I

 

The first progression to practice is the most commonly used in Jazz:

The major ii-V-I progression.

When working on this progression, you will use the same arpeggio variations you learned about above, running four different sets of exercises over this change, moving it to other keys as you expand upon it in the woodshed.

Here’s an example of how to practice this progression using ascending arpeggios over each chord shape.

From here, apply the other three variations as you take this progression further in your studies.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 1

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 1

 

 

Chord Progression 2 – I-#Idim7-ii-V

 

Moving on, you can now practice a variation of the previous progression, where you are now playing the I chord first, then moving through the VI-ii-V changes from that starting point.

As well, in this progression you are playing two chords per bar, in a typical turnaround configuration, such as you would see in the last two bars of a tune or section of a tune.

When practicing fast-moving chord changes such as these, it’s best to work one-octave arpeggio shapes over each change.

That way, you outline the chords but aren’t rushing to try and fit in a larger, two-octave shape over each chord.

Here’s an example of how to practice these chords using descending arpeggios over each change.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 2

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 2

 

 

Chord Progression 3 – Minor ii V I

 

The third progression to practice in your arpeggio routine is the Minor ii-V-I, which consists of the chords iim7-V7b9-Im7.

When you practice the V7b9 arpeggio, you can use a common technique called 3 to 9 Arpeggios in order to keep your arpeggios down to four notes per shape.

In this case, you will play a Dim7 arpeggio from the 3rd of any V7b9 chord you are playing over.

This produces the intervals 3-5-b7-b9 over that chord.

This means that if you are practicing arpeggios over a Minor ii-V-I in the key of Am, as you can see below, you would play G#dim7 over the E7b9 chord to produce the 3 to 9 sound over that change.

Here’s an example of how to practice alternating arpeggios over a Minor ii-V-I progression in the key of Am.

Notice the 3 to 9 arpeggio being used over the V7b9 chord in bar two of the progression.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 3

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 3

 

 

Chord Progression 4 – iiim7-VI7-iim7-V7

 

The next progression is a turnaround that you often find in Jazz standards, and can be played with one or two chords per bar in your studies.

Working on descending ii-V’s, such as these, will prepare you for many different tunes in your studies, allowing you to quickly take these arpeggio exercises and apply them to a practical, musical situation.

Here is an example of alternating arpeggios over the iiim7-VI7-iim7-V7 progression in the key of G major.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 4

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 4

 

 

Chord Progression 5 – IVmaj7-ivm7-iiim7-VI7

 

The final progression to check out in your arpeggio studies is a classic descending set of changes that begins on the IVmaj7 chord and runs down to the VI7 chord from there.

After this four bar phrase, you will usually run into a ii-V-I cadence.

Shifting from a maj7 to m7 arpeggio on the same root note seems easy, but can be tricky when improving using arpeggios over these changes.

Because of this, make sure that you work this progression from both a technical and improvisational standpoint to ensure you are prepared to solo over these changes with both confidence and creativity in your lines.

Here’s a sample ascending arpeggio exercise over this descending chord progression to get you started with these changes in the woodshed.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 5

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 5

 

 

Take your time working these progressions in the woodshed, there is no hurry to get them under your fingers.

 

“It is better to learn one progression to 100% than learn all five progressions at 20%.”

 

I was once talking to the legendary Jazz guitarist Ben Monder.

When I asked him how long he worked on one concept in the practice room he replied:

 

“I practice it until I have it absolutely down. Then I practice it for 6 more months after that.”

 

Just goes to show, you can never put too much time into a new concept in the woodshed.

 

 

 

Applying Jazz Guitar Arpeggios to Standards

 

As well as practicing common chord progressions, you can take any arpeggios you’ve learned in your studies and apply them to tunes in the woodshed.

Doing so will produce two key results:

You’ll increase your fluidity and dexterity with arpeggio shapes.

And you’ll build your improvisational confidence and ability over common Jazz standards.

While scales are great for linear soloing over tune, arpeggios get right to the heart of the chord progression.

They dig into the chord tones of each change, allowing you to run the changes directly, which can be a nice contrast to your scale work over those same progressions.

To help you get started with applying arpeggios to your Jazz tune study, here are four sample exercises that you can run over four different tunes.

There’s one for each variation of the arpeggio exercises you learned about earlier in this lesson.

After you have learned any sample study below, work out a few more over each tune using other arpeggio shapes you know.

Then take it to a series of backing tracks, using the arpeggio shapes that you studied from a technical standpoint in this section of the lesson.

 

 

Ascending Arpeggio Study – Summertime

 

The first tune study to check out features ascending arpeggios over the tune Summertime.

Notice that I use two-octave shapes over each chord, mostly because the tempo for this track is slow during the example.

If you want to speed up the tempo, feel free to shrink down those arpeggio shapes to one-octave arpeggios.

This will make things easier and more practical during those measures of the tune.

Once you have this, or any, sample tune study under your fingers, put on a backing track and solo over those changes using only the arpeggios shapes you just worked out from a technical standpoint in your routine.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 6

 

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 6

 

 

Descending Arpeggio Study – Blue Bossa

 

You can now check out how to practice descending arpeggios over a Jazz standard, in this case the tune Blue Bossa.

Starting from the top of an arpeggio and working down to the root note may seem as easy as playing an ascending arpeggio backwards.

But it might not be that easy.

Go slow with this exercise.

Learning how to see the upper note of an arpeggio, and starting your lines away from the root note, is an essential skill for any guitarist to possess.

Therefore it’s worth the time spent in the practice room shedding this concept.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 7

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 7

 

 

Alternating Arpeggio Study 1 – Sunny

 

Moving on, you can check out this sample exercise where you will apply alternating, one up one down, arpeggios to the chord progression of the tune Sunny.

Watch the bars that contain two chords per measure.

In these bars I use one-octave arpeggio shapes in order to keep thing more compact when the chords are moving by at a faster pace.

If you’re looking for an extra challenge in your arpeggio studies, you can play two-octave shapes in those bars, running them with 16th notes to make them fit.

But starting and sticking to one-octave arpeggio shapes in those bars is perfectly fine.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 8

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 8

 

 

Alternating Arpeggio Study 2 – Bb Jazz Blues

 

The final example in this section will look at applying the one down-one up arpeggio variation to a Bb Jazz Blues chord progression.

Again, once you have learned this study with your metronome, from memory, practice two ways:

One, with other arpeggio shapes you know for these chords.

And two, improvising over the changes using only arpeggio shapes to create your lines.

To help you practice this progression here is a cool Bb Jazz Blues backing track from Quist Jam Tracks.

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 9

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 9

 

 

Essential Arpeggio Patterns

 

As well as working arpeggios through the four variations in the previous sections of this lesson, you can also use arpeggio shapes to translate common Jazz vocabulary.

When doing so, you’re using shapes you know, arpeggios, to bring out the sound of the Jazz language, by applying chromatic patterns to those same diatonic arpeggios.

This accomplishes two important goals:

One, bringing a sense of Jazz authenticity to your lines.

And two, you use small bits of vocabulary and translate them through the arpeggio shapes to create new lines of your own.

Let’s get started by looking at one of the most important Jazz chromatic concepts, approach notes.

 

 

Arpeggio Patterns – Approach Notes

 

The first vocabulary exercise that you’ll explore in this lesson is adding approach notes below each note in the arpeggio you are practicing.

When doing so, you’re playing a note one fret below each arpeggio note as you ascend and/or descend that arpeggio shape, creating tension and release when applied to your soloing lines and phrases.

Approach notes can be applied to any arpeggio you’re working on:

 

  • In a single-arpeggio shape.
  • Over a full progression.
  • Over an entire Jazz tune.

 

They can also be played from above each note, but that can sound a bit off sometimes.

So, start with approach notes from below, then get them comfortable before trying them from above.

Start with the example below in 12 keys.

When that is cool, work on applying approach notes to other arpeggios in your studies.

Make sure to study them with a metronome through the four variations at the beginning of this lesson.

And don’t forget to solo with them over tunes you know or are working on in the woodshed.

Here’s an example of applying approach notes from below each note in a G7 arpeggio, ascending only.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 10

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 10

 

Here is a descending version of the arpeggio with approach notes added below each note.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 11

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 11

 

This example shows the up then down alternating version of a G7 arpeggio with approach notes added in.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 12

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 12

 

The final example shows how to apply approach notes below each note in a G7 arpeggio descending then ascending.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 13

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 13

 

 

 

Arpeggio Patterns – Enclosures

 

The second important arpeggio pattern that you’ll learn in this lesson is enclosures.

For now you will learn one variation of the enclosure.

You will play a half-step above, half-step below, then the arpeggio note you are enclosing.

When doing so, you are going to be creating tension with the chromatic notes.

Then you resolve that tension to each arpeggio note as you ascending and descend the shape you are practicing.

As is the case with any arpeggio exercise, you can work on adding enclosures to the four variations at the start of this lesson.

Then practice them over single arpeggios, chord progressions, and full tunes in your studies.

To help you get started with adding enclosures to your studies, here is an ascending example over a G7 arpeggio.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 14

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 14

 

Here is the descending version of that same arpeggio with enclosures.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 15

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 15

 

The next example features the first alternating version over a G7 with enclosures, up then down, over that arpeggio.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 16

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 16

 

The final example uses the second alternating variation, down then up, over the G7 arpeggio with enclosures.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 17

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 17

 

If you want to explore further variations of this technique in your studies, check out my article, “Building Bebop Vocabulary – Jazz Guitar Enclosures.”

 

 

 

Guitar Arpeggios – Blue Bossa Solo

 

To help you hear and practice arpeggio vocabulary in a musical situation, here is a sample solo written over the chord changes to the Jazz standard Blue Bossa.

Start by learning each phrase separately.

Then when you feel ready, put them together and play the solo as a whole.

Once you have learned this sample solo, write out a chorus or two of your own over Blue Bossa using the concepts you studied in this lesson.

This will allow you to test out some of these ideas before taking them to a jam or gig situation in your playing.

 

Click to hear Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 18

 

Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 18

 

Maj7 Arpeggios

 

Maj7 arpeggios are used to solo over Maj7 chords, which are found on the Imaj7 and IVmaj7 chords in any major key.

As they have the same chord tones as a Maj7 chord, Maj7 arpeggios have the following interval pattern.

 

R-3-5-7

 

Or, for a Cmaj7 arpeggio, those notes would be.

 

C-E-G-B

 

You can also think of Maj7 arpeggios as being the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes of the major scale.

Essentially, you start on the root of a major scale, then play every second note to form the Maj7 arpeggio.

 

Because they’re used to solo over the tonic chord of any major key, Imaj7, you’ll use these arpeggios a fair bit in your soloing over Jazz, Pop, and even R&B songs.

 

Having a strong understanding of Maj7 guitar arpeggios will mean that you never get caught off guard when resolving your soloing lines to the tonic chord in a major chord progressions.

 

 

Maj7 Arpeggio One Octave Shapes

 

Now that you know how to build a Maj7 arpeggio, you can bring that knowledge to the fretboard.

To begin here are 12 fingerings for Maj7 arpeggios on the fretboard, written in one-octave shapes.

Once octave arpeggio shapes are perfect for soloing over fast-moving chord progressions.

 

Because they are compact and easier to play than two-octave shapes, these smaller guitar arpeggios will make it easier to solo over chords that move by at fast tempos in a song.

 

You can get started by learning Maj7 arpeggios, one octave, from the index finger.

After you’ve learned any of these Maj7 arpeggio shapes, put on the jam track and solo over the Cmaj7 chord with that shape to take these arpeggios to your guitar soloing practice routine.

 

Cmaj7 Jam Track Cmaj7 Backing Track

 

maj7 arpeggios 1

 

Here are those same arpeggios from the middle finger to learn in your studies.

The only exception is the 3rd-string root shape, which begins with your index finger.

 

maj7 arpeggios 2

 

Lastly, here are the same arpeggios from the pinky, or ring if you prefer, finger.

Try out these four guitar arpeggios from your pinky, then your ring, and then settle on the fingering that feels best for you.

 

There are always a variety of ways to finger any arpeggio shape, depending on your hand size and flexibility.

 

So, experiment a bit and go with the fingering that feels best for you with these, or any, guitar arpeggio shapes.

 

maj7 arpeggios 3

 

Don’t forget to run these arpeggios with the 4 practice variations when you’re ready to combine them with other arpeggio family shapes in your practice routine.

 

 

Maj7 Arpeggio Two Octave Shapes

 

Though one-octave Maj7 arpeggios are great for soloing over fast chord progressions, there are times when you have more room to spread out across the fretboard.

This is where two-octave Maj7 arpeggio shapes come in handy.

Here are four different two-octave maj7 arpeggios to practice in all keys across the fretboard.

As always, learn one of these shapes and then jam over the Cmaj7 track as you take them to your guitar soloing practice as well as your technical practice routine.

 

Cmaj7 Jam Track Cmaj7 Backing Track

 

maj7 arpeggios 4

 

When you have any of these Maj7 fingerings memorized, practice soloing over the backing track as you combine one and two-octave Maj7 arpeggios in your solos.

 

Though they use the same notes, one and two-octave arpeggio shapes might inspire you to play different types of phrases in your solos.

 

When combined, this can add a new level of creativity to your guitar soloing lines over chord progressions and songs.

 

 

Maj7 Arpeggios – 3 Licks

 

To finish up your introduction to Maj7 arpeggios, here are three sample licks that you can learn and apply to your own guitar solos.

The first lick features a two-bar Maj7 arpeggio phrase, which you can learn over Cmaj7 and then try out in other keys across the fretboard.

 

Click to hear maj7 arpeggios 1

 

maj7 arpeggios 5

 

Next, here’s a Maj7 arpeggio applied to the Imaj7 chord in a ii-V-I chord progression.

 

Click to hear maj7 arpeggios 2

 

maj7 arpeggios 6

 

Lastly, here’s a maj7 arpeggio applied to the first four bars of the Jazz Standard “On Green Dolphin Street.”

 

Click to hear maj7 arpeggios 3

 

maj7 arpeggios 7

 

When you can play these three Maj7 arpeggio licks from memory, come up with 3 to 5 licks of your own in order to take these shapes further in your studies.

 

 

 

Dominant 7 Arpeggios

 

Another very common arpeggio in modern music, 7th arpeggios are used to solo over dominant 7th chords on guitar.

Because dominant 7th chords are often used in Rock, Blues, Funk, Jazz, and other musical genres, learning 7th guitar arpeggios will prepare you to solo with confidence in a variety of musical situations.

As they share the same notes as dominant 7th chords, 7th arpeggios have the following interval pattern.

 

R-3-5-b7

 

For a C7 arpeggio, the notes would be.

 

C-E-G-Bb

 

As well as thinking about these arpeggios related to 7th chords, you can think of them as coming from the Mixolydian scale.

 

Related to the 5th mode of the major scale system, 7th arpeggios can be thought of as the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes of the Mixolydian scale.

 

Here are the intervals for both of those structures to see how they compare.

 

Mixolydian – R 2 3 4 5 6 b7

7th Arpeggio – R 3 5 b7

 

As well, for C Mixolydian and a C7 arpeggio the notes would be.

 

C Mixolydian – C D E F G A Bb

C7 Arpeggio – C E G Bb

 

Whichever way you choose to think about 7th arpeggios is great.

As long as you can build these arpeggios, relate them to 7th chords, and use them in your guitar solos, it’s all good.

Now, time to take this theory onto the fretboard.

 

 

7th Arpeggio One Octave Shapes

 

As was the case with Maj7 arpeggios, you’ll start your exploration of 7th guitar arpeggios by learning one-octave shapes.

Once you can play any of these 7th arpeggios from memory, put on the C7 jam track and solo over that chord to work on improvising with these shapes in your studies.

 

C7 Jam Track C7 Backing Track

 

7th arpeggios 1

Here are those same arpeggios from the middle finger. 

The only exception being the 3rd-string root shape, which like the Maj7 arpeggios, starts with your index finger.

 

7th arpeggios 2

 

Lastly, here are the same arpeggios from the pinky, or ring if you prefer, finger.

Again, feel free to experiment with guitar arpeggio fingerings.

 

Find the right fingering for you, and stick with that approach for now.

 

You might change that fingering system over time.

But for now, feeling comfortable, and being able to play each arpeggio smoothly, is your biggest priority.

Whichever fingering allows you to do that is the correct one.

 

7th arpeggios 3

 

Now that you can play both Maj7 and 7 arpeggios, work them through the 4 variations mentioned at the start of this lesson.

Start with G7-Cmaj7, then work other keys from there when you’re ready.

 

 

7th Arpeggio Two Octave Shapes

 

 

As is the case with each guitar arpeggio you learn, it’s time to move on to two-octave shapes in your practice routine.

When you have any of these 7 arpeggios under your fingers, jam them over the C7 track below.

From there, take them to other keys in your studies, both with a metronome and with backing tracks.

 

C7 Jam Track C7 Backing Track

 

7th arpeggios 4

 

As you did with the one-octave shapes, you’re ready to mix 7th and Maj7 arpeggios through the 4 practice variations in your studies.

Give it a try.

 

If it’s too difficult to manage those two chords at once for now, no worries.

 

Focus on one guitar arpeggio family at a time.

Then, when you feel ready, try mixing two together again and see how it goes.

With time and practice, shifting between arpeggios in your solos will become easier.

 

 

7th Arpeggios – 3 Licks

 

To wrap up your introduction to 7th arpeggios, here are three licks that use 7th arpeggios in their construction.

Work each lick in the given key, and then use it in your solos as you inject these lines into your guitar soloing vocabulary.

The first lick features a two-bar 7th arpeggio phrase.

As this is the most direct usage of 7th arpeggios, over dominant 7th chords, this is a great place to start when learning 7 arpeggio licks.

 

Click to hear 7th arpeggios 1

 

7th arpeggios 5

 

Next, here’s a 7th arpeggio applied to the V7 chord in a ii-V-I chord progression.

 

Click to hear 7th arpeggios 2

 

7th arpeggios 6

 

Lastly, here’s a 7th arpeggio applied to the two chords in the first four bars of a Blues in C.

 

Click to hear 7th arpeggios 3

 

7th arpeggios 7

 

Remember to apply these licks to songs you are working on, the Blues or any Jazz Standard such as “Autumn Leaves” is a great place to start.

By doing so, you’ll not only learn how to play these licks, but you’ll practice getting into and out of them in your solos.

This will allow you to use these licks in a more natural way in your solos as you progress with them over time.

 

 

 

m7 Arpeggios

 

This is the last of the most popular guitar arpeggios in this lesson, as m7 chords and arpeggios are found in most genres of modern music.

Sharing chord tones with the m7 chord, m7 arpeggios contain the following interval pattern.

 

R b3 5 b7

 

Or for a Cm7 arpeggio the notes would be.

 

C Eb G Bb

 

You can also think of this arpeggio as being the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes of either the natural minor scale.

Here is how those two melodic devices look when compared to each other from an interval standpoint.

 

Minor Scale – R 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7

m7 Arpeggio – R b3 5 b7

 

And for a C minor scale and Cm7 arpeggio the notes would be.

 

C Minor Scale – C D Eb F G Ab Bb

Cm7 Arpeggio – C Eb G Bb

 

Check out both of these approaches to building m7 arpeggios, then go with the one that makes it easier for you to understand this important soloing device.

Now that you can build m7 arpeggios, it’s time to take that information onto the fretboard and into your guitar solos.

 

 

m7 Arpeggio One Octave Shapes

 

Now that you know how to build a m7 arpeggio, here are 12 fingerings for m7 arpeggios on the fretboard, written in one-octave shapes.

Begin by learning any of these shapes over Cm7, then bringing them to other keys around the fretboard.

As always, after you learn a shape, solo with that guitar arpeggio over the Cm7 jam track below.

 

Cm7 Jam Track Cm7 Backing Track

 

m7 arpeggios 1

Here are those same arpeggios from the middle finger. 

In the case of m7 arpeggios, all of these shapes are played from your index finger, as opposed to the Maj7 and 7 arpeggios you learned earlier.

 

m7 arpeggios 2

 

Lastly, here are the same arpeggios from the pinky.

To continue our running theme, try your ring finger with these shapes and then decide which one is the right fingering for you after that.

 

m7 arpeggios 3

 

Once you have any or all of these arpeggios down, put on a m7 backing track and start soloing with these shapes in order to take them to the improvisational side of your playing as well as the technical side.

 

 

m7 Arpeggio Two Octave Shapes

 

 

Moving on, you’ll now learn how to play two-octave m7 arpeggios on the guitar.

When doing so, start with one shape along to a metronome, increasing the tempo as you go to build your guitar chops.

From there, use these shapes to solo over the Cm7 backing track as you bring these longer arpeggios to your soloing phrases.

 

Cm7 Jam Track Cm7 Backing Track

 

m7 arpeggios 4

 

As well, you can put on a m7 backing track and practice soloing with these two-octave shapes, and moving between one and two-octave arpeggios as you begin to combine them in your studies and soloing ideas.

 

 

m7 Arpeggios – 3 Licks

 

Now that you can build and play m7 arpeggios, and have jammed with these shapes over the tracks, you can study classic m7 arpeggio licks over chord progressions.

The first lick features a two-bar m7 phrase that you can learn and transpose to other keys across the fretboard.

 

Click to hear m7 arpeggios 1

 

m7 arpeggios 5

 

Next, here’s a m7 arpeggio applied to the im7 chord in a minor key ii-V-I chord progression.

 

Click to hear m7 arpeggios 2

 

m7 arpeggios 6

 

To finish up, here’s a m7 arpeggio applied to the two chords in the first four bars of Blue Bossa.

 

Click to hear m7 arpeggios 3

 

m7 arpeggios 7

 

After you can play these licks under your fingers, put on mixed backing tracks, such as Dm7-G7, and play a m7 lick over Dm7 and a 7th lick over G7.

This will help you work on moving between licks in your lines.

From there, you can mix arpeggios and licks over the same chords, expanding on this exercise in your studies.

 

 

 

m7b5 Arpeggios

 

You’re now moving into less familiar territory as you learn how to play and solo with m7b5 arpeggios.

Often called “half diminished” arpeggios, these shapes are used to solo over m7b5 chords.

Because of this, they’re most often used in Jazz guitar solos, though will pop up now and again in a Funk, Blues, or Pop song.

m7b5 arpeggios share the same chord tones as m7b5 chords, which from an interval standpoint are:

 

R b3 b5 b7

 

Or for Cm7b5 those notes would be.

 

C Eb Gb Bb

 

Apart from thinking of Cm7b5 arpeggios related to half diminished chords, you can also think of these arpeggios as coming from the Locrian scale.

 

m7b5 arpeggios contain the same notes as the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes of the Locrian scale.

 

Here’s how those two compare when you look at their intervals.

 

Locrian Scale – R b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7

m7b5 Arpeggio – R b3 b5 b7

 

For C Locrian and Cm7b5 the notes would be.

 

C Locrian – C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb 

Cm7b5 Arpeggio – C Eb Gb Bb

 

Either way of building m7b5 arpeggios is cool, so go with the one that’s easiest for you to learn and apply.

Even if you’re not a Jazz guitarist, having a few of these arpeggios under your fingers will prepare you for the next time you run across a m7b5 chords in your guitar solos.

 

 

m7b5 Arpeggio One Octave Shapes

 

 

By this point you know the drill, so dive right in with these m7b5 guitar arpeggio shapes, starting with one-octave fingerings on the fretboard.

And don’t forget to run these shapes over the Cm7b5 jam track to hear them against the harmony.

This can really help when working on less common arpeggios such as the m7b5 shapes below.

 

Cm7b5 Jam Track Cm7b5 Backing Track

 

m7b5 arpeggios 1

 

Here are those same arpeggios from the middle finger on the first note of every shape.

 

 

m7b5 arpeggios 2

 

Lastly, here are the same arpeggios from the pinky finger, or ring finger if you prefer.

 

m7b5 arpeggios 3

 

You can now mix the m7b5 arpeggios with the 7th arpeggios to work the 4 variations from the start of this lesson.

Work Dm7b5 to G7 first, then take those chords to other keys as you practice coming m7b5 and 7th arpeggios around the fretboard.

 

 

m7b5 Arpeggios Two Octave

 

Though one-octave m7b5 arpeggios are great for soloing over fast-moving chord changes, there are times when you have more room to spread out across the fretboard, and this is where two-octave shapes come in handy.

Here are four different two-octave m7b5 arpeggios to practice in all 12 keys across the fretboard.

 

As is the case with every arpeggio that you learn, work these shapes first with your metronome at increased tempos.

 

Then, slap on the Cm7b5 jam track below and take them to your guitar soloing workout in the woodshed.

 

Cm7b5 Jam Track Cm7b5 Backing Track

 

m7b5 arpeggios 4

 

 

m7b5 Arpeggios – 3 Licks

 

Though they might be a rare occurrence for you, depending on the style of music that you play, having a few m7b5 arpeggios licks under you fingers will give you an idea of how to use these shapes in a musical situation.

The first lick features a two-bar m7b5 arpeggio phrase that you can use in your solos when confronted by any m7b5 chord.

 

Click to hear m7b5 arpeggios 1

 

m7b5 arpeggios 5

 

Next, here’s a m7b5 arpeggio playe dover the iim7b5 chord in a minor ii-V-I chord progression.

 

Click to hear m7b5 arpeggios 2

 

m7b5 arpeggios 6

 

Lastly, here’s a m7b5 arpeggio applied to the V7 chord in a ii V I.

 

This is the most common way to use m7b5 arpeggios outside of Jazz, from the 3rd of any 7th chord.

 

When doing so, you outline the 3-5-b7-9 intervals of that dominant 7th chord.

It’s a cool sound, but tough to pull off at first.

So, start with the lick below.

Then, put on a C7 backing track above and solo over that chord with an Em7b5 arpeggio to hear how that concept sounds in your own guitar solos.

 

Click to hear m7b5 arpeggios 3

 

m7b5 arpeggios 7

 

When you can play these three licks from memory, work out 3 to 5 m7b5 arpeggio licks of your own in order to take these shapes further in your studies.

 

 

 

Dim7 Arpeggios

 

Unless you’re playing Jazz, Funk, or Fusion guitar, you won’t come across dim7 chords very often in your solos.

But.

When you do, knowing a few dim7 arpeggio fingerings will get you out of any tight jam in your solos.

Dim7 arpeggios are directly related to dim7 chords, as they share the same chord tones.

 

Dim7  – R b3 b5 bb7

 

And the notes of Cdim7 would be.

 

C Eb Gb A (Bbb)

 

You can also think of the dim7 arpeggio as being the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes of the Diminished scale.

This is how those two musical devices compare from an interval perspective.

 

Diminished Scale – R 2 b3 4 b5 b6 6 7 

Dim7 Arpeggio – R b3 b5 6 (bb7)

 

Either way you think about it, as long as you understand how this arpeggio is built, and related to the dim7 chord or Diminished scale, you’ll be set when applying this arpeggio to the fretboard.

 

 

 Dim7 Arpeggios One Octave

 

You’re now armed with the knowledge of how to build dim7 arpeggios, so you’re ready to take them onto the fretboard.

To begin, here are 12 one-octave dim7 arpeggios that you can explore and add to your technical and soloing practicing.

As usual, once you get a fingering down, put on the jam track and solo over the Cdim7 chord with the related arpeggio shape.

 

Cdim7 Jam Track cdim7 backing track

 

dim7 arpeggios 1

 

Here are those same dim7 arpeggios from the middle finger.

While you can use your middle finger with these arpeggios, that might be a bit of a stretch for some guitarists.

If you find it’s easier to use your ring finger with these shapes go for.

Whichever fingering system is easiest is the one to go for.

 

dim7 arpeggios 2

 

Lastly, here are the same dim7 arpeggios from the pinky finger, or ring finger if that’s more comfortable for you with these shapes.

 

dim7 arpeggios 3

 

Once you have any or all of these arpeggios down, put on a dim7 backing track and start soloing with these shapes in order to take them to the soloing side of your practice routine, as well as the technical side of things.

 

 

Dim7 Arpeggio Two Octave

 

Just like you’ve done with each arpeggio in this guide, you’re now ready to learn longer, two-octave dim7 arpeggios on the guitar in your studies.

 

To help you get started with longer dim7 arpeggios, here are four fingerings that you can learn and apply to the backing track below in your woodshedding.

 

Cdim7 Jam Track cdim7 backing track

 

dim7 arpeggios 4

 

When you have any of these two-octave shapes down, put on the Cdim7 backing track and move between these and the one-octave shapes in your solos.

This will give you perspective on where and how you want to use both of those dim7 arpeggio shapes in your solos as you progress with them on the fingerboard.

 

 

Dim7 Arpeggios – 3 Licks

 

To finish up your intro to dim7 arpeggios, here are three licks that use dim7 arpeggios over various chords and chord progressions.

The first lick features a two-bar dim7 arpeggio phrase that directly outlines that chord with the arpeggio shape.

 

Click to hear dim7 arpeggios 1

 

dim7 arpeggios 5

 

Next, here is a dim7 arpeggio applied to the V7b9 chord in a minor ii-V-I chord progression.

As was the case with m7b5 arpeggios, you can play a dim7 arpeggio from the 3rd of any dominant 7th chord.

When you do, you’re highlighting the 3-5-b7-b9 intervals over that 7th chord.

This creates a bit of tension in your lines, which needs to be resolved, but also sounds cool at the same time.

After you’ve learned this lick, put on a C7 jam track and solo over that chord with an Edim7 arpeggio to hear how this concept sound in your own playing.

 

Click to hear dim7 arpeggios 2

 

dim7 arpeggios 6

 

Lastly, here’s a dim7 arpeggio applied to the V7 chord in a ii V I, using the same 3-5-b7-b9 outline you saw in the previous lick.

 

 

Click to hear dim7 arpeggios 3

 

dim7 arpeggios 7

 

Though they might not be that common depending on what music you play, you can hear how dim7 arpeggios can really nail those chords in any guitar solo.

When you can play these three example licks from memory, work up 3 to 5 dim7 arpeggio licks of your own in order to take these shapes further in your studies.

 

 

 

mMaj7 Arpeggios

 

A relative of the melodic minor scale, the mMaj7 arpeggio is most commonly used to solo over m7 chords when you want to bring a bit of tension to your guitar solos.

As they also contain the same chord tones as a mMaj7 chord, the mMaj7 arpeggio interval pattern would be:

 

R b3 5 7

 

Or for CmMaj7 the notes would be.

 

C Eb G B

 

And, since it’s related to the melodic minor scale, you can think of these arpeggios as being the R, 3, 5, and 7 of the related melodic minor scale.

Here’s how those two items compare from an interval perspective.

 

Melodic Minor – R 2 b3 4 5 6 7

mMaj7 Arpeggio – R b3 5 7

 

And for CmMaj7 and C melodic minor the notes would be.

 

C MM – C D Eb F G A B 

CmMaj7 – C Eb G B

 

Either way to think about mMaj7 arpeggios is totally fine, pick the one that works for you and stick with it.

As long as you know that you solo over the rare mMaj7 chord, or more commonly, m7 chords with this arpeggio, you’re all set.

 

 

mMaj7 Arpeggio Shapes One Octave

 

Now that you know how to build a mMaj7 arpeggio, here are 12 fingerings for these arpeggios on the fretboard, written in one-octave shapes.

Let’s begin with mMaj7 arpeggios, one octave, from the index finger.

As always, put on the backing track and jam over the Cm7 chord with any mMaj7 arpeggio shape you learn in this lesson.

 

Cm7 Jam Track Cm7 Backing Track

 

mMaj7 arpeggios 1

 

Here are those same mMaj7 arpeggios from the middle finger.

 

mMaj7 arpeggios 2

 

Lastly, here are the same mMaj7 arpeggios from the pinky finger.

For these shapes, the pinky finger is really the way to go, so avoid the ring finger with these shapes on the fretboard.

 

mMaj7 arpeggios 3

 

Once you have any or all of these arpeggios down, put on a mMaj7 backing track and start soloing with these shapes in order to take them to the improvisational side of your guitar workout.

 

 

mMaj7 Arpeggio Shapes Two Octave

 

Moving on, you’re ready to learn how to play two-octave mMaj7 arpeggio shapes in your studies.

Here are four different two-octave mMaj7 arpeggios to practice in all 12 keys across the fretboard.

Once you have any shape down, jam over the Cm7 track to begin hearing how to best deal with the tension that this arpeggio creates in your solos.

 

Cm7 Jam Track Cm7 Backing Track

 

mMaj7 arpeggios 4

 

When you’re ready, put on a mMaj7 backing track and practice soloing as you move between one and two-octave arpeggios as you begin to combine them in your guitar soloing ideas.

 

 

mMaj7 Arpeggios – 3 Licks

 

Here are three sample licks that you can learn in order to hear and play the mMaj7 arpeggio in different musical situations.

The first lick features a two-bar mMaj7 arpeggio phrase applied directly to a CmMaj7 chord.

 

Click to hear mMaj7 arpeggios 1

 

mMaj7 arpeggios 5

 

Next, here’s a mMaj7 arpeggio applied to the Im7 chord in a minor ii-V-I chord progression.

 

Click to hear mMaj7 arpeggios 2

 

mMaj7 arpeggios 6

 

Lastly, here’s a mMaj7 arpeggio applied to the iim7 chord in a ii V I progression, giving that chord a mMaj7 feel.

 

Click to hear mMaj7 arpeggios 3

 

mMaj7 arpeggios 7

 

When you can play these three licks from memory, write out 3 to 5 mMaj7 arpeggio licks of your own in order to take these shapes further in your studies.

 

As you can see, learning guitar arpeggios can take some time and effort in the practice room.

But, these four-note shapes open up a ton of new avenues of exploration in your practicing and soloing.

If you find these shapes difficult at first, stick with it.

With time and effort you’ll get these guitar arpeggio shapes under your fingers and into your solos.

And from there, the sky’s the limit.

 

Have a question or comment about guitar arpeggios? Share it in the comments section below.



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