Arpeggios can make chords sound much more fascinating and complex verses just strummed chords. By playing each note of the chord individually it helps to outline the colour and elements of the chord. In this guitar lesson the examples will give you some ideas of how you can use arpeggios as an awesome way to mix up your rhythm guitar playing.
Open Chord Arpeggios
Many songs use open chord arpeggios. To mix up the standard chord shapes the following example uses chord variations as mentioned in Open String Major Chord Variations. With this and other arpeggio examples take note of the picking directions to ensure you’re using an effective picking technique. Generally if your hand is moving down pick down and if it’s moving up pick up. This picking technique will create a smooth hand movement and sound. It will also make enable you to play faster arpeggios more easily.
D C G Open Chord Arpeggios | Download
Arpeggios with Licks
Next we will vary the arpeggios further by throwing in some licks based on other variations of the chord that use hammer-ons and pull-offs .
D C G Open Chord Arpeggios With Licks | Download
Palm Muted Arpeggios
Normally with arpeggios the notes are left to ring out allowing you to hear the entire chord. However you can also apply palm muting to the notes to create a quieter sound where the notes are more separated due to them not ringing out. A well known example of this is the guitar in Every Breath You Take by The Police.
Arpeggios With Palm Muting | Download
Bar Chord Arpeggios
When using bar chords with arpeggios you have the advantage of not having to vary the picking pattern during the chord progression. The is due to the bass note not changing strings as it does when playing open string chords such as D C and G.
Arpeggios With Bar Chords | Download
CAGED Chord Arpeggios
Another way to use arpeggios in rhythm guitar is to play them higher pitched on the first 3 strings from the 5th fret and higher on the guitar neck. These high arpeggios work well when played with another guitar strumming chords. Songs that use these sorts of arpeggios include:
– No Surprises – Radiohead
– Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
– Hallelujah (middle section) – Jeff Buckley
– Stadium Arcadium (outro) – Red Hot Chili Peppers
The notes in these arpeggios are from bar chords and other chord shapes form the CAGE & D chord shapes. For more information on the CAGED chord system check out Unlocking The CAGED Chord System. Try the following example below and see if you can come up with your own versions using different chords.
Arpeggios Using CAGED Chords | Download
Arpeggios can also be used to create riffs. Many well know songs prominently use arpeggios such as:
– Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
– Hotel California – The Eagles
– Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2
– Ticket To Ride – The Beatles
– Short Memory – Midnight Oil
– Paradise City – Guns n Roses
– Wanted Dead or Alive – Bon Jovi
– Shine On You Crazy Diamond – Pink Floyd
– Summer of 69 – Bryan Adams
– Eagle Rock – Daddy Cool
The trick to making the riffs interesting is to add embellishments and not worrying about trying to play all the notes of the chord. Try these examples below to give you some ideas of how you can create great guitar riffs from arpeggios.
Arpeggio Riff 1 | Download
Arpeggio Riff 2 | Download
So now you know how awesome arpeggios are as a way to mix up your rhythm guitar playing. Try including them in your playing by varying simple open string chord changes, using palm muting, bar chords, the CAGED chord system and to create riffs.