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Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios

Last semester I had a student come to me with a long list of audition material that he had to put together in a very short time. Along with tunes, chord progressions and the usual scale fingerings, he had to learn all of his extended jazz guitar arpeggios up to the 13th.

He asked me what fingerings I would use to play each of these extended jazz guitar arpeggios.

After thinking about it for a few minutes, I came up with an approach that would allow him to use the triad and 4-note arpeggios fingerings he already knew, along with a little bit of scale theory, to quickly and efficiently learn all of his 13th arpeggios.

The approach to building extended jazz guitar arpeggios is pretty simple from a technical and theoretical approach, which makes it easy to learn.

On top of that, it can be quickly applied to any chord you’re learning once you get the theory down and the basic shapes under your fingers.

Do you have a question or comment about this lesson? Visit the Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios thread at the MWG Forum.


Here’s how this system of building extended jazz guitar arpeggios works. First, take any chord that you want to learn its arpeggio up to the 13th, for example G7.


Here are the notes of a G13 arpeggio:


G – B – D – F – A – C – E


Now, let’s break it down into a 4-note arpeggio and a triad one scale tone above the root like so:


G – B – D – F = G7

A – C – E = Am

So G7 + Am = G13


Now, once you have the concept down, it’s time for the fun part, applying it to the neck of the guitar.

I’m a big fan of using shifting with my extended scale and jazz guitar arpeggio fingerings, so you’ll apply that concept here as well.

If this is new to you, take a few minutes and work on the first example before moving on to the others below.

Here is how I would finger a G7 arpeggio, starting on the 6th and 5th strings:


G7 Arpeggio

G7 Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios


And here is the Am triad starting on the 4th and 3rd strings:


Am Triad

A Minor Triad


Now, you can combine these two small, easy to play shapes to form our extended jazz guitar arpeggio as such:


G13 Arpeggio: G7+Am

G13 Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios


See how it works. Pretty easy right?

You can take this approach and apply it to any chord that you want to learn, say GMaj7(#11), which is Gmaj7+A.


Gmaj13#11 Arpeggio: Gmaj7+A

GMaj7#11 Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios


Or how about Gm7 (Gm7+Am):


Gm7 Arpeggio: Gm7+Am

Gm7 Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios


Or even Gm7b5 (Gm7b5+Ab):


Gm7b5 Arpeggio: Gm7b5+Ab

Gm7b5 Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios


Try some on your own now, maybe G Phrygian, or G7 (#11).

Just take the 4-note chord, find the next triad in the scale and add them together to form your extended jazz guitar arpeggios up to the 13th.

A good way to practice this approach is to play all of the chords in a scale up to the 13th.

This will not only help you visualize the shapes for each 13th chord, but also help you learn the chords for each key and how they relate to each other.

Here are all the chords in a G Major scale up to the 13th, on the 6th and 5th strings.


G Major Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios

G Major Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios


Page 2


G Major Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 2


And here are those same extended jazz guitar arpeggios, but this time for the G Melodic Minor scale.


G Melodic Minor Chord Scale Up to 13

G Melodic Minor Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios


Page 2


G Melodic Minor Extended Jazz Guitar Arpeggios 2


You can also practice this approach through any tune that you’re learning.

Just start on the first chord, play the extended jazz guitar arpeggios up to the 13th, then move on to the next chord and do the same thing.

Once you can do this without stopping, try improvising a solo using only the notes of each extended jazz guitar arpeggio up to the 13th.

This is a great way to get the changes to any tune in your ears, hands and mind.


Extended jazz guitar arpeggios up to the 13th may sound daunting to learn, but they can be an essential tool when learning how to play jazz guitar.

Try this exercise out and see how it feels, knowing these larger arpeggio shapes will definitely come in handy during many playing situations, and develop your mental and physical dexterity at the same time.


Do you have a favorite way of learning and using 13th arpeggios? If so, please share it in the comments section below.


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  1. rick bourne, July 23, 2011:

    nice material to work on

  2. Matt Warnock, July 23, 2011:

    Thanks Rick, definitely a cool concept to get under your fingers and into your ears!

  3. Adam Smale, September 4, 2011:

    I call them “Super-arpeggios”…but either way, it sure opens up your mind (and ears) to come up with cool, modern, melodic lines, extending past the R, 3, 5, & 7th!

  4. Matt Warnock, September 4, 2011:

    for sure, easy way to think of extended arpeggios, instead of one long arpeggio, just pair up a normal 1-7 arp and a triad and there you have it!

  5. gordon, October 16, 2011:

    Great stuff Mat – thanks! would you call these bi-tonal arpeggios? Are there other combinations possible?

  6. gordon, October 16, 2011:

    I followed you all the way up to the last example of Gmin7b5. For that chord I seem to get Amin as the triad built up one scale degree – not Ab. I do happen to think of playing major scale up 1/2 step over a min7b5 chord so I like the sound of the Ab, I just don’t see how you got there using this particular formula.

    Thanks Mat!!!

  7. Matt Warnock, October 16, 2011:

    Hey Gordon,
    that sound, the nat9 on a m7b5 chord, comes from the 6th mode melodic minor. I like the Ab over Gm7b5 as well, it depends on the situation, so you can try them both out and see how they fit under your fingers and in your ears.

  8. Matt Warnock, October 16, 2011:

    I wouldn’t think of these as bi-tonal since you aren’t going outside of the sound of the basic chord, just extending the arpeggio up to the 13th. There are tons of other choices if you want to step “outside” the chord. I like playing two arpeggio a tri-tone apart, so G7 and Db7 over a G7 chord, very hip sound.

  9. Sergio, February 23, 2013:

    Hi Matt.
    This is great material but It would be great to have some practical application of these matter.


  10. Gustavo, August 25, 2014:


    Great article. Could you give an idea of what precise fingers (I mean 1, 2, 3 or 4) you would use for them?

  11. Matt Warnock, August 26, 2014:

    There are many ways to finger these arpeggios. Try starting with 1-4-2 for the major type arps and 1-4-3 for the minor arps. From there the rest should fall into place.

  12. Ron Parker, December 5, 2014:

    They get you around the guitar and you can alway adjust them to fit the chord you’re using. They also make ear catching ending phrases.

  13. Kevin, December 12, 2014:

    This is all very interesting Matt. Thanks for all your work on these lessons.
    After a lot of thought my strategy for using arpeggios to build a foundation for soloing over changes is to play an arpeggio starting on each note of the chord in question. The one rule to follow is to avoid the 11th over a major or dominant chord. The 11th sounds just fine over a minor chord. Let me know if I’m wrong on that.

    So over a Cmaj7 chord I play the Em7 arpeggio for a major 9 sound. I play the Gmaj7 arpeggio for a major 7#11 sound. I play the Bm7 arpeggio for the major 13 sound.
    I’m trying to keep it simple, just four arpeggios but it’s easy enough to add one more, the relative minor, Am7.

    For a Dm7 chord I play the Fmaj7 for a minor 9 sound, I play the Am7 arpeggio for the minor 11 sound and a Cmaj7 arpeggio for a minor 13 sound.

    The dominant 7 chord gets to be a little more complicated. Over a G7 chord I play Bm7 arpeggio for a dominant 9 sound, I play the Dm/ma7 arpeggio for the 7#11 sound, I play the Fmaj7#5 arpeggio for the dominant 13 sound.

    I love to read music but for this study I recommend not writing anything down. Play these in all 12 keys. Figure out your own fingerings for each arpeggio. After a few months work on this study using a combination of motor memory and knowing how to spell the arpeggios, add a few diminished scale patterns, be able to play a dominant 7#11 scale, and I think that will be enough ammunition to be able to play some nice solos without having to transcribe solos.

    Thanks again for all the great info you are sharing Matt.

    Cheers Kevin

  14. Matt Warnock, December 12, 2014:

    Hey Kevin. I would say you could simplify it a bit further by saying you can take any arpeggio from a key and use it to color your chords. So if you want to have a 7#11 sound you can use any arpeggio from Lydian Dominant over that chord. Then you can work on specific sounds after that like 3 to 9 etc. As well, I don’t think that the 4th should be avoided as it brings out the sound of the underlying mode. So if you want to bring out an Ionion sound then you should have a 4 in tour lines, just maybe not sit on that note or have it as the last note of your lines. So rather that think about avoiding the 4th you could think about using it but just not highlighting it. This works well as both mixo ad ionian are important sounds that we can use in our playing. Just another take on that approach

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