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Guitar Arpeggios - How They Are Played

How to Play Chords - Guitar chord strumming patterns. Learn how to play rhythm guitar chords with the needed rock-solid rhythm for your guitar.

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Guitar Arpeggios - Just What Are They?

One common option you should be aware of and be able to play very fluently is called the arpeggio, which uses the right hand fingers to play notes individually in a sort of rolling pattern.

This often involves using your right hand thumb to play one of the bass notes and following through very smoothly with 2 or 3 of your right hand fingers to finish the chord.

To illustrate this, let's look at some easy examples.

The example we will examine first, takes a G chord, while alternating the bass notes with the thumb. Next you transition to the C chord, again alternating the bass notes with the thumb.

One of the first things to point out is that in playing the arpeggio, even though the thumb changes strings, the first, second and third fingers play exactly the same notes and picking pattern.

Secondly, while playing arpeggios it is very important that you play evenly and consist timing and the time should not be compromised when you change chords.

Guitar Arpeggios - Using Common Notes:

Lastly it is important to maintain the sustain of the notes as long as you can, to give the guitar a harp-like sound. This means you should delay moving any fingers until absolutely necessary.

This will be essential to avoid any gaps or silent passages.

In our next example will make the use of what we call common notes or common tones, to enhance the continuity of chord changes.

Here we will take a C chord, which is fingered with a high G (4th finger of the left hand on the 3rd fret of the first string). Play the arpeggio very smoothly. Now, in order to the play the G chord, keep your left hand 4th finger in place and play the G chord in arpeggio fashion.

As you play progressions, it is often best to examine the chords and find the common notes to simplify your life.

You will find that by doing this step, your guitar playing will improve significantly.

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Guitar Arpeggios - Examples 1 & 2:
Arpeggios examples 1 & 2

As you will discover in our next example, we will show you how to place "Pinch" chord in with the arpeggios. The reason these types of chords are called a "Pinch" is derived from the appearance of the thumb and the right hand fingers playing the chord in a "Pinch-Like" fashion.

Next, let's learn how to apply the pinch type chord style into an arpeggio style passage. We will do so by playing a 3 chord change pattern consisting of the G to C to D7 and ending back on the G chord. To play this smoothly, you will note that each measure is divided in half with the pinch being executed in the first half of the measure and the second half of the measure is played with the arpeggio.

Guitar Arpeggios - Example 3:
Arpeggios & Pinch Chords

So there you have it. A primer for guitar arpeggios. Practice them often and get to where you can play them silky smooth without hesitation. Try all sorts of chord changes to learn to transition smoothly from chord to chord without loosing any time value what-so-ever.

Guitar Arpeggios are an important part of any fingerstyle guitarists repretoir and they should be a major part of yours as well. Have Fun!