How To Play Great Guitar Arpeggios

Arpeggios are the notes of a chord played individually rather than all together. A famous example of this on guitar is the intro to Led Zeppelins Stairway to Heaven. Imagine how different the song would sound if Jimmy Page simply strummed the chords at the start of the song.

To learn how to play arpeggios on guitar using a pick we are going to look at a 2 chord exercise using D and G major. The first chord is D major but played one string at a time verses strumming all the strings at once. Have a listen to the audio example to hear how it should sound.

D Major Guitar Arpeggio

 Mp3 Track
Play

D Major Arpeggio | Download
Listen to the audio of the D major arpeggio being played with the DOWN/UP picking directions at 120BPM.

The tip here is to pluck DOWN on the first 3 strings as shown in the tab and then UP on the next three. This is an effective picking pattern applying some of the picking exercises that we played back in Lesson 3 – Picking. Make sure that all notes sound even and that the transition is smooth between the DOWN and UP picking.

6/8 Time Signature
This song introduces a new time signature (written at the start of the music) that is different to the 4/4 time used in most rock/pop music. 4/4 means that there are 4 quarter notes to the bar. In comparison 6/8 means that there are 6 eighth notes to the bar. This time signature is use in many ballads and folk songs such as House of The Rising Sun and Nothing Else Matters by Metallica.

To practice the picking pattern in 6/8 it’s best to start by setting your metronome to a slower speed at around 60-70BPM with one beat per note picked. Listen to the audio sample to hear how this is done.

 Mp3 Track
Play

D Major Arpeggio | Download
Listen to the audio of the D major arpeggio being played at 70BPM.

The next chord in the song is an easy version of G using just finger 3 on fret 3 of the 1st string. It’s been deliberately made simple so you can concentrate on the picking pattern.

G Major Arpeggio

 Mp3 Track
Play

G Major Arpeggio | Download
Listen to the audio of the G major arpeggio being played with the DOWN/UP picking directions at 120BPM.

Now connect the 2 chords together playing the arpeggio pattern for each chord twice. To make the picking smooth and in time as you change chords you need to have the chord change automatic so you can concentrate on picking with no pauses between the chords. To do this you will need to practice with a metronome to stay in time. Again it is recommended to start slow at around 60-70BPM. Only speed up once you can change smoothly between the chords while picking the arpeggio patten without pausing.

This is a small sample from the book Learning To Play The Guitar – An Absolute Beginners Guide now available at Amazon.co

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