Guitar Arpeggios: The Ultimate Guide

Want to learn how to play guitar arpeggios? You’re in the right place, we’re going to show you everything you need to know about guitar arpeggios. 

Learn Guitar Arpeggios

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • Over 10 essential guitar arpeggios which will make you sound amazing.
  • 3 quick & easy tips which will enhance your musicality.
  • 2 must-know soloing tricks that will take your playing to the next level.
  • The secret to learning arpeggios fast.

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We’re going to show you a range of guitar arpeggios from beginner to advanced. So whether you’re an arpeggio newbie or an advanced guitarist, there’s something for everyone on this page.

Beginner Guitar Arpeggios

If you want to learn guitar arpeggios, you must start with open arpeggios. These are arpeggios which are played in an open position.

To begin with, let’s learn some 1 octave major and minor arpeggios. We’re going to learn these arpeggios in following keys:

  • E Major.
  • E Minor.
  • A Major.
  • A Minor.
  • G Major.
  • G Minor.
  • D Major.
  • D Minor.
  • C Major.
  • C Minor.

E Major Guitar Arpeggios (1 Octave)

This is known as the ‘E major arpeggio’, because it is based on an E major chord.

To learn the E chord, go here: 4 Easy Ways To Play The E Guitar Chord On Guitar

Learn Guitar Arpeggios

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

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To learn guitar arpeggios in the key of E, make sure you use the following fingers on each fret:

  • 3rd finger on the 4th fret of the low E string. (6th string.)
  • 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the A string (5th string.) and D string.  (4th string.)

Make sure that you play EACH note individually. Don’t try and play this arpeggio like a chord. Play each note seperately.

E Minor Guitar Arpeggios (1 Octave)

This is known as the ‘E minor arpeggio’ because it is based on an Em chord.

To learn the Em chord, go here: Em Guitar Chord – 4 Easy Ways To Play This Essential Chord

Make sure you this following fingers when learning this guitar arpeggios:

  • 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string. (6th string.)
  • 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the A string (5th string.) and D string.  (4th string.)

Guitar Arpeggios

A Major Guitar Arpeggios (1 Octave)

This arpeggio is based on the ‘A major’ chord.

To learn this chord go here:3 Easy Ways To Play The A Chord On Guitar

When you play this chord, make sure you use the following fingers:

  • 3rd finger on the 4th fret of the A string. (5th string.)
  • 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the D string (4th string.) and G string.  (3rd string.)

A Major Arp

A Minor Guitar Arpeggios (1 Octave)

This guitar arpeggio is based on the ‘A minor chord’.

To learn this essential guitar chord, go here:Am Guitar Chord For Beginners

Use the following fingers for each arpeggio note:

  • 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the A string. (5th string.)
  • 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the D string (4th string.) and G string.  (3rd string.)

A_Minor_Arp_(1_Octave)

G Major Guitar Arpeggios (1 Octave)

This guitar arpeggio is based on the G major chord.

To learn this chord, go here:4 Easy Ways To Play The G Chord On Guitar

Use this fingering when learning this arpeggio:

  • 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string. (6th string.)
  • 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the A string. (5th string.)

Learn Guitar Arpeggios

G Minor Guitar Arpeggios (1 Octave)

Here’s the tab for the G minor arpeggio. This arpeggio is based on a ‘G minor chord’.

To learn this chord, go here: G Minor Guitar Chord For Beginners

Use these fingers when you play this arpeggio:

  • 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string. (6th string.)
  • 1st finger on the 1st fret of the A string. (5th string.)

G_Minor_Arpeggio_1_Octave

D Major Guitar Arpeggios (1 Octave)

This ‘D major arpeggio’ is based on a ‘D chord’.

Learn the D chord here: 3 Easy Ways To Play The D Chord On Guitar

Use these fingers when you play this arpeggio:

  • 3rd finger on the 4th fret of the D string. (4th string.)
  • 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the G string. (3rd string.)
  • 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the B string. (2nd string.)

Learn Guitar Arpeggios

D Minor Guitar Arpeggios (1 Octave)

This arpeggio is based on a Dm chord.

Learn the Dm chord here: 3 Easy Ways To Play The Dm Guitar Chord

When you play this arpeggio, use the following fingers:

  • 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the D string. (4th string.)
  • 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the G string. (3rd string.)
  • 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the B string. (2nd string.)

D_Min_Arp_(1_Octave)

C Major Guitar Arpeggios (1 Octave)

Here’s a C major arpeggio:

C_Major_1_Octave_Arp

This arpeggio is based on a C major chord. To learn this chord, go here: Easy Ways To Play The C Guitar Chord

C Minor Guitar Arpeggios (1 Octave)

Here’s a C minor guitar arpeggio:

C_Minor_Arp_(1_Octave)

This arpeggio is based on a Cm guitar chord. To learn this chord, go here: 4 Easy Ways To Play The C Minor Guitar Chord

2 Octave Guitar Arpeggios

Now we’ve learned how to play some 1 octave arpeggios, let’s learn some 2 octave arpeggios. For this, we’re going to learn the following arpeggios.

  • E Major Arpeggio.
  • E Minor Arpeggio.
  • A Major Arpeggio.
  • A Minor Arpeggio.
  • G Major Arpeggio.
  • G Minor Arpeggio.

E Major Arpeggio (2 Octaves)

Learn Guitar Arpeggios

E Minor Arpeggio (2 Octaves)

E_Minor_Arpeggio

A Major Arpeggio (2 Octaves)

A_Major_Arpeggio_(2_Octaves)

A Minor Arpeggio (2 Octaves)

A_Minor_Arp_(2_Octaves)

G Major Arpeggio (2 Octaves)

G_Major_2_Octave_

G Minor Arpeggio (2 Octaves)

G_Minor_(2_Octaves)

What is an arpeggio?

An arpeggio is uses the EXACT same notes as a guitar chord. However, they are played individually.

Let’s compare, here’s what a C guitar chord sounds like:

Here’s what the C arpeggio sounds like:

Can you hear how the chord and arpeggio, sound exactly the same. However, in a guitar chord all of the notes are played at the same time. In an arpeggio, all of the notes of the chord are played separately.

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Quick Tip!

To learn arpeggios fast, take any chord that you know and play each note individually. This is the fastest way to learn a guitar arpeggio.

Intermediate Guitar Arpeggios

Once you’ve learned how to play open arpeggios. You must learn how to play fretted arpeggios.

The two main arpeggio types are:

  • The Major Arpeggio.
  • The Minor Arpeggio.

We’re going to learn both one octave and two octaves for BOTH of these arpeggios. For each of these examples, we’re going to use the key of A.

The Major Arpeggio (1 Octave)

Here’s a 1 octave major arpeggio, to play this in the key of A. Start it on the 5th fret.

The Minor Arpeggio (1 Octave)

Here’s 1 octave minor arpeggio. To play this in the key of A. Start it on the 5th fret.

Quick Tip!

Both of these arpeggios can be moved up and down the E string (6th string.) and onto the A string. (5th string.)

Try this:

  • Move the major and minor arpeggios up to the 7th fret on the E string. (6th string.)

When you do this your major arpeggio becomes a:

  • B major arpeggio.

Your minor arpeggio becomes a:

  • B minor arpeggio.

Once you’ve mastered this:

  • Move the major and minor arpeggio shapes onto the 5th fret of the A string. (5th string.)

When you do this, you can use the EXACT same shape, however you have now changed the key of the arpeggio.

These arpeggios now become:

  • D Major Arpeggio.
  • D Minor Arpeggio.

You can move BOTH of these shapes to any fret on the E (6th string) or A string. (5th string.)

Why does this work?

This works because arpeggios are ‘moveable shapes’. 

This means that you can use the EXACT same arpeggio shape ALL over the fret board. All you have to do is change the root note.

The root note is the first note in an arpeggio, and tells you the arpeggios key. When you change this, you are changing the key of the arpeggio.

To change the key of an arpeggio, you must know what the root notes are on the E string (6th string) and A string. (5th string.)

Here are the root notes on the E string. (6th string.)

Guitar Arpeggios

To change the key of an arpeggio, change the starting note.

For example, to play a major arpeggio in the key of G. Start on the 3rd fret.

You can apply the same concept to arpeggios on the A string, however the notes are different. Here are the root notes on the A string. (5th string.)

Guitar Arpeggios

Bonus Tip!

You can also move ALL of these arpeggio shapes up 12th frets. For example, if you want to play a G major arpeggio. You can play it on either the 3rd fret or the 15th fret.

Major And Minor Arpeggios (2 Octaves)

Here are the 2 octave shapes for the major and minor arpeggios.

Major Arpeggio (2 Octaves)

Learn Guitar Arpeggios

Minor Arpeggios (2 Octaves)

A_Minor_Arpeggio

Once you’ve mastered these shapes, try and play them in ALL keys.

Why should I learn arpeggios?

Arpeggios are essential for any guitarist to know, here’s why:

  • They enhance your musicality and vocabulary.

If you want to become an epic lead guitarist, you must know how to play arpeggios.

Want to hear some of the best guitar solos of all time? Check out this article by Guitar World: 50 Greatest Guitar Solos 

  • Learning arpeggios enhances your guitar technique.

Learning arpeggios is a great way of enhancing your dexterity and technique. If you want to move around the fret board at lightening speed, learn to play guitar arpeggios.

When can I use guitar arpeggios?

There are two musical situations when you can use guitar arpeggios. These are:

  • Over a musical key.
  • Over a specific chord.

Using Arpeggios Over A Musical Key

If you want to use arpeggios over a musical key, you must know what key the song is in. This tells you what arpeggio you can use.

For example, if something is in the key of C major. You can use a:

  • C Major Arpeggio.

Or if something is in the key of A minor:

You can use a:

  • A Minor Arpeggio.

Pro Arpeggio Tip!

If you want to get fancy, you can explore other arpeggios. Here’s a cool guitar hack which will give you some extra arpeggio options.

For every major arpeggio, you can play a minor equivalent 3 frets down.

For example, if you were playing a C major arpeggio on the 8th fret. You can also play an A minor arpeggio, 3 frets down.

This means that if something is in the key of C major, you can either play a:

  • C Major Arpeggio.

Or a:

  • A Minor Arpeggio.

Or if something is in the key of A minor, you can use either a:

  • A Minor Arpeggio.

Or a:

  • C Major Arpeggio.

This is known as ‘relative major and minor keys’. To learn about this concept, go here: How To Play Lead Guitar

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again. Click here to download your copy.

 

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Using Guitar Arpeggios Over Chords

A more advanced way of using arpeggios over each chord.

For example, if your chord progression was:

E Major | C# Minor | B Major | A Major

You could use the following arpeggios:

  • E major arpeggio.
  • C# minor arpeggio.
  • B major arpeggio.
  • A major arpeggio.

This is a cool technique as you were outlining EVERY single chord in the progression.

Alternatively, if you wanted to make things easier, you could just use a:

  • E major arpeggio.

This works, as all of the chords in the key of E. To learn more about the chords in the key of E, go here: Chords In The Key Of E

Advanced Guitar Arpeggios

Once you’ve mastered your basic major and minor arpeggios, the next step is to learn:

  • Major 7th arpeggios.
  • Minor 7th arpeggios.
  • Dominant 7th arpeggios.

We’re going to show you each of these examples in the key of C.

C Major 7 Arpeggio

Here’s the tab for a C major 7 arpeggio:

Guitar Arpeggios

You can this over:

  • Anything in the key of C major/A Minor.

Or a:

  • A C Major 7 chord.

C Minor 7 Arpeggio

Here’s a C minor 7 arpeggio:

Guitar Arpeggios

You can use this over:

  • Anything in the key of C minor/Eb major.
  • A C minor 7 chord.
  • A C minor blues.

C7 Arpeggio

Here’s a C7 arpeggio:

Guitar Arpeggios

You can use this over a:

  • C7 chord.
  • Anything in the key of C major/A minor.
  • A C blues.

This arpeggio has a cool bluesy sound. To learn more about the blues, go here: Blues Guitar Lessons For Beginners – 4 Ways To Sound Awesome Quickly

Once you feel comfortable with these arpeggios, try playing each of these arpeggios in every key. You can do this by moving each arpeggio shape up and down the fret board.

If you want to learn more advanced guitar arpeggios, go here:Jazz Guitar: A 5-Step Programme For Rapid Jazz Skill

Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map

If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).

Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.

(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)

We made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. We hope that makes sense!?

NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.

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