How to Play Major 7th Arpeggios For Jazz Guitar

Major 7th Arpeggios contain four notes, all derived from the first note of the Ionian Mode.

These notes are: Root – Third – Fifth – Seventh

So, for a C Major 7 Arpeggio, these notes would be: C – E – G – B

The following examples lay out three different sizes of Major 7th Arpeggios, one octave, two octave and three octave fingerings. If you notice, each of the larger fingerings is built by combining two or three of the one-octave arpeggios.

This allows you to learn a new fingering without learning new material, just applying previous knowledge in a new manner, as well as makes it easier for you to memorize longer-form arpeggios.

Each fingering is presented on a C Major 7th arpeggio, but make sure to practice these in all 12 keys so that you learn you neck, as well as take these fingerings into every possible spot on the neck.


One Octave Major 7th Arpeggios


Major 7th Arpeggios One Octave



Two Octave Major 7th Arpeggios


Major 7th Arpeggios Two Octave



Three Octave Major 7th Arpeggios

maj7-arps-3.1 maj7-arps-3.2

Major 7th Arpeggios Three Octave


Do you have a question about playing Major 7th Arpeggios for Jazz Guitar? Post your thoughts in the thread below.


  1. Ivan, December 13, 2011:

    I really like this idea of 3-9 arpeggios, but, my problem is how to look at a chord progression and decide what to do as a solo. e.g. Scale or arpeggio.
    What would you suggest is the most practical way of breaking down chord chart please? Do you identify ii V i etc and stick to one scale/arpeg through it, OR do you look at the which key would fit over most of the tune……

  2. Matt Warnock, December 13, 2011:

    Hey Ivan,
    Good question. I would practice improvising over any new tune using only one approach. So I would solo over each chord with just the triad, then just the arpeggio, then just the 3-9 arpeggio and finally just the scale.

    Then I would mix them together in the practice room so that when I get on the bandstand my ears can guide my choice of scale vs. arpeggio when I’m soloing.

    Separating them will give you a good command of each approach, making sure that you are never stuck using only one because that’s all you can do over a certain tune.

    Try that out, you might be surprised how deep you can get into a tune with this easy approach.

  3. Alex, September 25, 2012:

    Hey man, I’m really hoping you can help me out with this.

    I’m really big on making sure I know the “proper” fingering for horizontal scales/arpeggios. I know people say that you should do “whatever’s comfortable” for you, but I like to know the rules before I can break them. Would you happen to have a link that lays this out? Maybe the proper technique in general? At the moment, for example, I’m trying to figure out just the two-octave CMaj7 arpeggio. Right up to the B on the 4th string I’m staying in one position, but then I switch to using my middle finger in order to be able to play the E on the 3rd string with my index finger. Is this correct? How would YOU do it? Really hoping you can help, this has been frustrating me for months now. Thank you, hope you check up on this stuff every once in a while!

  4. Matthew Warnock, September 25, 2012:

    Hey, yeah I shift there for the second octave, so for the 2 octave scale I move up to my middle finger on the C and then index on the E like you said, that’s the easiest way for me to do it. Hope that helps!

  5. Alex, September 28, 2012:

    Such a quick response! Thank you very much, I appreciate it. Keep up the good work!

  6. Jean, September 2, 2014:

    Hello dear instructor,

    These days, I spend a lot of time practicing Drop2, Drop3 and Arpeggios fingerings.
    This is an endeavor that will take some time, and I don’t think I should wait to create music until I’ve mastered every single single arpeggio and fingerings for maj7, dom7, min7, and so on and so on. I want to create music all along, as I move on!

    I am not completely helpless; I’ve already come up with one easy way to create small songs. What I do is; whatever song I like, I use a drum software and create a drum track that goes like the drum track in the song, then I record a bass track where I play each note around the circle of fifths, a certain number of measures, then I play the arpeggio, fingering, whatever I am practicing, over this. Sometimes I throw in a little piano also.
    This method has already given me a bunch of songs, that I like to call ”Academic songs”, that I am so proud of.

    My question to you is, do you have hints or suggestions about any other relatively easy ways I can create songs?

    By easy, I mean methods that are not so difficult as to draw my focus too far away from the main thing, which is practicing my arpeggios, chord fingerings, etc…

    Thank you.


  7. Matt Warnock, September 2, 2014:

    that’s a good way to do it for sure. The other way is to take a common tune and work out the chord progression. Then write a new melody over those chords so you get to study the make up of the tune, but you are writing your own melody over it at the same time.

  8. Dave, September 29, 2014:

    HI, In question number two above, What is the 3-9 arpeggios Ivan mentioned?

  9. Matt Warnock, September 29, 2014:

    Hi Dave, check this lesson out, will help with that concept.

  10. Dave, September 29, 2014:

    Thanks for all your help,and your website!

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