Understanding Arpeggios on Guitar (How, Why, When)

Arpeggios (along with scales) are another way to navigate the fretboard when writing a composed melody line or for your next guitar solo. 

If you get to know them well, they can be a tremendous help to you as you compose or improvise music on guitar...

Arpeggios use chord tones, (that's it). When using them, there's very little risk of treading "outside" the notes of a harmony, and walking into dissonance. This makes them incredibly useful for creating targeted melodic lines. You can perform a line directly into the chord tones of a chord being performed without wandering off into any other unrelated sounds.

Before you begin your studies of arpeggios, let's take a short introduction to them on guitar. Their function is based upon notes of chords. If we have a "D major" chord, then our notes would be "D, F#, A." This also means that a "D Major" arpeggio only uses the notes of "D, F#, A." The connection is direct. Which is also what allows arpeggios to function so perfectly over any chord.

Learning some essential arpeggio patterns and how to use them in solos can have a huge impact upon your guitar playing. When used in a solo, they highlight the chord tones of a chord in use perfectly. If you want to learn more about this process, watch my lesson on, "Using Arpeggios in Guitar Solos." It will help clarify the way arpeggios are applied during improvisation.

Arpeggios are chords played one note at a time. In other words, each note of the chord is cleanly separated, one after the other, rather than letting them ring out together. It's therefore often referred to as a broken chord.

The diagram below shows a standard "C Major 7" arpeggio in the 2nd fingering position on the neck. The notes indicated with "diamonds" are the "Root" (naming), notes.The pattern below would be performed from the "diamond" indicated on the 5th string's third fret.

Practice the pattern from 5th string up to the highest note on 1st string, (the "G" at the 1st string third fret). Then, descend all the way back through the arpeggio to the 6th string third fret "G." Then, ascend back up into the "Root" (C), again at the 5th string, third fret to complete the play-through of this arpeggio.

"C Major 7" arpeggio (notes: C, E, G, B)

Study the arpeggio pattern outlined above. As time goes on, learn the basic patterns /shapes for arpeggios all over the entire fingerboard. Spend time learning the basic melodic function of using arpeggios for creating melody parts.

If arpeggios are still very new to you, learn more about their basic function by watching my video lesson on YouTube, "Beginners Guide to Arpeggios." That lesson will clear up a lot of the issues guitar players tend to encounter when first trying to develop arpeggios.

Since a chord is technically an arpeggio, this means if you already know some chord forms on the fret-board, you can start to plot out their arpeggio shapes. Also, since chords come from scales, if you know some scale patterns, you'll be able to pull arpeggios out of those scales. The process is easy, since an arpeggio is simply every second note of a chord.

Where there's a chord or a scale, there's an opportunity for an arpeggio. However, there are more economical fingerings that we can use for arpeggios. This involves plotting  more than one note per string, (something we do not do with our chord patterns).

Just as we have major and minor chords, we also have major and minor arpeggios. There are also 7th arpeggios just as there are 7th chords. So, it makes sense that learning arpeggios would go hand in hand with learning how chords are constructed. And, the study of scales should be practiced along side of arpeggios to more fully comprehend the complete scope of the scale and arpeggio patterns for both of them on the neck.

When used in solos, arpeggios create phrases just like standard scale runs. The only difference is that with arpeggios we're being more selective of the key tones that make up a particular chord color (major, minor, major 7th, minor 7th etc.).

Regular scale phrases tend to float over any non-chord tones (often referred to as passing tones) in a linear movement. But, arpeggios move in a more harmonically defined way, as you only touch on those key chord intervals within the scale.

Playing arpeggios is like "connecting the dots" to build up the picture and really focus in on a chord. The arpeggio can lead into, or out of a scale phrase and it can connect phrases within the solo. It can span just one string or all 6 strings. You can sweep pick them, tap them or alternate pick them in a more traditional fashion.

Arpeggios can also be a massive benefit in helping to negotiate more complex chord changes, (as would be found in jazz music). For example, if the chord changes from C major to F minor, you could play a C major arpeggio followed by an F minor arpeggio.

The Advanced Guitar Program at Creative Guitar Studio covers the use of arpeggios in great detail. Guitar students need to spend time studying all of the various ways that arpeggios can be used to weave melodic ideas around chord progressions. Their use not only helps a guitarist use melody in more solid ways, the fretting layout of arpeggios makes for an excellent technical development of both the left and right hands.



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Win Friends and Influence - PLAY GUITAR!

A lot of people say that just playing the guitar or being in a cool band will win you all kinds of friends and influence. 

Is that a lie, or is it true? ...It may very well be true, however there are a few tricks to doing it...

First, be sure to know how to play guitar (it could be almost any cool instrument, but I highly recommend a guitar). It's not enough to only know a few chords, or how to strum through one song.

Learn a whole bunch of stuff on the guitar, (strumming, chords, scales, songs). Remember you're after winning friends and influence. You need to make a good impression! Hopefully, after a time, you are going to be good enough to play with a group. This is the ultimate goal as time goes on.

Next, is get a style, get a "look," down for yourself, and it doesn't matter too much what that style is, just get a style. It could be with a bunch of Gothic stuff (buckles, cross necklaces or fingerless gloves), AC/DC stuff (with a uniform or a tux, wearing it Rock style, to be comfortable). Just make sure it all suits your personality. If you're faking it, people will see through that right away. And, that will actually be bad for you. Choose a style that makes sense and connects with who you really are as a person.

Are you a hard-rocker type? Into motorcycles? Maybe Slash style (with a leather jacket, aviator sunglasses, and being all mysterious), is right for you... Or, there's the ultimate look, just be the guy who doesn't care about his style (in fact, this one DOES seem to actually work best in most cases, just look at Pat Metheny or Eddie Van Halen - jeans and a t-shirt).

Be sure to always have the guitar sitting out in open at your place - on display for when people come over to your place. If it's out in the open people will see it and they'll want you to play something for them.

This is beyond excellent for winning friends and influence. When people hear you play, they'll dig the idea of knowing a "musician." It's amazing what it does for influence. People tend to always have more respect for truly creative people. It's just human nature. So, be sure to keep that guitar out in the open where any visitors to your home will see it.

Learn to play all kinds of music on guitar. Learn a few romantic, slow songs. Learn a classical piece. Learn top-40 tunes or the popular upbeat songs from classic rock bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Queen, Pink Floyd, etc.

Originals are okay, but people will always connect better /faster to songs that they're familiar with. If you want to add originals, play them after the popular songs that you know will instantly connect with people. Top-40 songs first, then play originals afterwards.

Be sure to book a gig someplace to play live. It might be as simple as a live event at your work (customer appreciation day). Or, it could be a local coffee shop at the top of your street. It doesn't really matter that much, as long as it's live and in public.

Once your gig is booked, you need to invite people to your performances. I know it could be hard to invite busy people to performances, but try to invite people when they are free. If you invite people to all of your gigs and they can't go to any, they'll feel bad and then on the next one they'll feel more or less obligated to go.

If you have invited guests to your gig, play some songs to get their attention. If your band is a Classic Rock band, play a softer, but cool song from a popular group (like Aerosmith or Van Halen). Remember, those popular songs always connect better than originals. You can do originals - just add them into your set later on.

Some examples of good pop-songs include; "Walk This Way", "Sweet Emotion", "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)", "You Really Got Me", etc.

If you have a mic in front of you, most definitely say into the mic, "And this song is for ____________" a big thanks to them for making it out tonight!

Doing this "call out" will be a lot better for winning influence. The people you call out will feel so honored that you mentioned them to the entire audience. If you don't sing, do not let that stop you - just step up to the mic and announce your "call out" anyway.

While playing, look at your invited guests from time to time. Give them a nod. Let them know that you see them there in the audience and that you appreciate their effort of coming out to your show. This small act of appreciation goes a very long way with people.

Once friends know that you play guitar, get those friends to listen to your own original music. When you compose a song, even when it's not inspired by anything immediate or connected to your friends, but still is cool sounding, tell them something like, "Hey, I've been working on this song a while and I would like your opinion about it." 

People always dig the idea that their opinion matters. When people notice that you value their opinion enough to bounce creative musical concepts off of them, it goes a long way.

People will feel honored that you respect their thoughts about music so much that when you're composing music you want to share that music with them. It means a lot to building much better friendships and even loyal musical followers in your life.

Everyone needs a solid group of friends around them. It not only makes people feel better, but it's healthy too. Gaining a "core" group of tight-friends goes a long way toward both a balanced and forming a better life.

Some things in this article may seem superficial, but the bottom line is, people dig musicians. Especially non-musicians. And, if you are a musical person, but you're hiding that fact, you're cheating yourself out of the influence it offers you with others.

So, don't hide your talents, celebrate them. And, share them with others. It goes a long way toward building a better life for everyone involved.



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Scales Guitar Players Need to Practice


Scales Guitar Players Need to Practice

As practicing guitar players we need to better understand the scales that are most important. 

And, we need to get started on practicing the scales that will help us in the most common musical situations presented to us as composers, improvisors and as band members...

Guitar players tend to be one of the worst groups of instrumentalists when it comes to learning their scales and for knowing their notes on their instrument. After years of playing with other musicians and being in countless bands, it still blows me away how many times I need to explain basic things to the guitar players that I'll often end up working with. 

Things like; where certain notes are located, or what scale is supposed to be used over a section of a song, or even how to relocate a riff or a lick to another area of the neck. 

The problem tends to be rooted in the fact that far too many guitar players never bother to properly learn their scales. In this episode of the GuitarBlog Insider, we're going to discuss, "The Scales Guitar Players Need to Practice."

Scales Guitar Players Need to Practice



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Learn to Play Better Blues Guitar

Blues guitar is one of the most popular styles of guitar playing out there. But, just because it's popular doesn't mean that it's easy...

If you're feeling stuck in your ability to play in the blues style you may need a few tips to help get you moving in the right direction.

Blues may be a simple style when it comes to its use of scales, chords and harmony, but what it lacks in musical and theoretical complexity it makes up for in feel. If you ain't got the feel, you ain't got the blues.

The blues guitar sound is full of songs that involve the guitarist bending strings. Bends, as well as hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides, give the blues guitarist the ability to imitate the way singers use various inflections while singing melodies.

However, unlike hammers-ons and slides, bends are not guaranteed to be in tune. Since there is nothing worse than an out-of-tune bend in the climax of a great solo, we need to pay special attention to training ourselves to make sure our bends are always in tune.

When you bend a string, it is supposed to be bent up to a specific pitch. The most common bends are up a whole step (the distance of two frets), or up a half step (the distance of one fret). For example, if you are on the 8th fret of the B string (the note is a G), and you bend up a whole step, it should sound like the 10th fret of the B string (the note is an A).

If you are going to bend up a half step from the 8th fret on the B string, you bend it up to make it sound like the 9th fret (the note is an Ab or G#). Here are a few ways to practice being in tune:

- Play the note you are going to bend to first, get the sound of the target note in your ear, then drop to a fret below it and practice bending up to it, and focus upon getting it to be the same exact pitch as your target note..

- Plug into a guitar tuner, and practice bending from one in-tune note to another, either a half step or a whole step away. The display on your tuner will let you know how well you are able to target your bends.

- Practice unison bends. Unison bends involve playing two notes, the note you are bending and the note you are bending to, on two adjacent strings. When doing this, take special care, and make sure that they are exactly the same two notes. To get started, practice the examples below:

 Click on image to enlarge:

Be sure to practice this all over the neck of your guitar, since it will take different amounts of strength and accuracy to bend in tune along various parts of the neck. The goal is to train our muscles and our ears to be in tune with the bend technique no matter where we are on the guitar neck.

A lot of players tend to overlook this aspect of learning, and just end up digging into individual licks they enjoy. Even worse, they never learn whole songs, just pieces like the intro or the chorus riff. The importance of having a lot of licks and ideas available to you cannot be overstated, but there is a lot more to be gained from learning the entirety of a solo.have an attitude of learning songs as a whole, not just select parts.

Learning an entire solo gives you a chance to see how the soloist paced themselves, and how they built their solo from the beginning to the end. It also gives you a chance to see how the soloist utilized space, where notes were applied and when they choose to stop on a scale tone and allow it to resonate. When we look at individual guitar licks, we don’t get to see what led up to them, and what came after them. It is these aspects of a guitar solo that will make you stand out from the rest.

Typically, a solo should serve the song it is within, and should be viewed as your turn to speak and convey how you feel. What you choose to say in your guitar playing should serve the song in some way.

For example, if you're playing over a slow blues song, it may not be the time to unleash your fastest licks, back-to-back. In other instances, a more uptempo song may need all of your fastest licks. Keep your ears open, and think about what it is that you are trying to express.

Does how you're playing actually add to the song, or are you simply letting your fingers speak? Don’t forget that the song has a melody. You can quote it in your solos, or you can simply use the rhythm of the melody to relate your idea back to the melody. Leave space. Sing along with your playing.Once you have these concepts together, your music will take on a whole new direction.

Repetition can be viewed in a few different ways: repeating your idea verbatim, repeating the rhythm but changing the notes, or playing variations on your original idea and allowing them to morph into brand new ideas.

This is such a crucial tool for crafting a good solo. If we think about it, do lyrics typically have a bunch of unrelated ideas through the duration of the song, or are the lyrics all along a central theme? Typically we will find the lyrics are all around one idea, but when a lot of people go to take a solo, they tend to play a bunch of unrelated ideas stringing them together one after another.

Sometimes it works, but a lot of times it doesn’t. Wouldn’t it make more sense if instead of playing 100 ideas or guitar licks in a solo, we played three or four, and got as much out of them as we could?

Here are some ideas for how to practice this:
- Play the lick, and have a different ending each time
- Vary the rhythm a few different ways
- Keep the rhythm the same but change the notes
- Play an idea, then “respond” to it (“call and response”)

This probably doesn’t need to be said, but always focus on listening to famous guitar players (and any other instrumentalists who you enjoy, and who you want learn from). If you haven’t already, you’ve got to check out the following blues guitar players:

- B.B. King
- Freddie King
- Albert King
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
-The Allman Brothers Band
- Eric Clapton
- Mike Bloomfield
- Muddy Waters
- Robert Johnson
- Robben Ford
- Larry Carlton
- Charlie Christian
- Tinsley Ellis
- Albert Collins

There are many, many more tips worth mentioning, but this should get you started as you continue to learn to play better blues guitar. Hopefully there are a few names here that you don’t yet know. Keep practicing!



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How to Quickly Memorize Guitar Chords...

Learning all those confusing guitar chords can be quite daunting. Their shapes and fingerings can flood your brain causing you to forget their names and positions. If you want to start playing guitar chords efficiently, you'll need to develop a memorizing strategy that is both simple and highly effective...

Rather than trying to remember all the chords you come across in every key, learn two, or even one, to start out with. The open chords are where most players begin. Luckily, most of these chords are also simple to play.

After learning a few open chords, (such as the "D, C, G and Em" open chords), you will want to start learning a few barre or "fretted" chord shapes. Barre chords may look confusing and feel awkward at first, but they are not too far of a step away from any of the common open chords. In fact, the "F Major" chord is often the first chord of the barre types that is ever introduced to introductory guitar players.

Barre chords are very important when playing the guitar. Learning just four types of barre chords (two Major's and two Minor's), will mean you'll have access to the entire neck. It won't matter the name of the chord, you'll be able to perform it with a barre chord. Once developed, barre chords are going to give you greater access and if you put all of your focus into them you won't forget them due to their popularity in music.

Once you have a few open chords and a few shapes of the barre chords, begin running across the neck learning several new positions of barre types. And, at the same time return back to the open position and continue learning new open chords as well. Add a capo to your neck and try moving the open chords around to other regions of the neck. After some time you should have a handle on several barre shapes and many different open chord types. Be sure to go slowly, learning only a few at a time.

Memorizing the look (shape) and feel of where your fingers have to go on chord patterns is the end-goal with all chord development. This is why you need to constantly try and switch between TWO chords. When you take a chord you know well, and practice switching to a new unfamiliar shape, you build the muscle memory of how it feels to make the switch.

The switch between two chord shapes doesn't have to be done quickly and should in fact be practiced very slowly when first starting out. Gradually, you'll speed up the transition between the two, and learn how to play all of the chords that you study in songs, (you however don't have to worry about using them in songs at first).

Focus on "feeling" where your fingers should go and build up the muscle memory in your hands. It's harder to forget the chords when you spend hours playing them in drills. You can also try saying the chord names out loud when you play them. This builds the memorization at an even deeper level.

Create a routine of learning a new chord every week. Play it switching against a chord you already know. Use a metronome and practice flipping from one to the other. Work slowly until the changes happen at an easy /comfortable level.

A comprehensive chapter by chapter guitar course  will not only teach you the correct finger positioning and technique for new chord shapes, a course will also motivate you to practice what you're learning in each guitar lesson.

You may be surprised about how much you can actually play when a well structured curriculum is guiding you along with what material is the best for you to do. Don't only play the material found within lessons though, you need to practice your chords outside of the curriculum too. Locate songs online, study song books of music by famous bands and above all else compose your own original material.

If you're worried about the cost of a course, consider joining a site on a monthly basis at first. The Creative Guitar Studio monthly membership plan is only $19.95 per month. Starting monthly will help you become familiar with how the course operates and online courses will always be cheaper than private guitar lessons with a personal teacher. 

Chord diagrams show a guitar student exactly where to put the fingers and what fingers to actually use. These diagrams will help a student understand what the chord shape is supposed to look like.

Refer to these diagrams when you're stuck because they will help you to visualize what the chord should look like when you play it. Stick these chord diagrams somewhere where you'll see them every day. This includes on the walls where you practice. Seeing them every day will go a long way to helping you to memorize them.

Finally, grab some blank guitar chord diagram paper and write out any new chord shapes that you're working on. Do this daily and develop a solid recognition for being able to draw the chord on paper. Plus, something special happens in the human mind when we take pencil to paper and study drawing out shapes and patterns. We end up being able to retain them better and recall them faster.

Learning songs that include basic chords will go a long way to helping you memorize chords much quicker than just playing the chords on their own over and over. Try to learn a song that is simple but popular so you can play them to friends and family.

An example would be "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan. This song is easy to strum and can be recognized by almost anybody. On top of that, is only has four chords (G, C, Am and D) and repeats the same progression and strumming pattern throughout the whole song.

This type of song makes it easy to remember what chords are played when, and a song like this is fun to sing along to. Also, when you work on popular songs, it develops the skill of remembering what chords go into the song. This is important since it will also help you to remember what chords look like and how they should sound when applied musically.

Practice Tips:
- Practice chords for at least half an hour every day.

- Try a few easy chords first, then try more difficult shapes.

- Try to picture (Visualize) the chord in your head before you play it.

- Find someone who knows how to play guitar and play with them.

- A good way to help you transition between the chords quicker is to have a friend call out random chords while you try to play them.



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F Minor Scale Sequencing Licks [QwikLicks 020]

NEW: QwikLicks Series - Video (020)

The latest QwikLicks video is, "F Minor Scale Sequencing Licks" Available in the FREE members area. Includes a PDF handout!

QwikLicks are a FREE lesson series for all membership levels at Creative Guitar Studio.com. Lessons in the QwikLicks Series will run through a short collection of guitar licks in all kinds of different playing styles...

Episode 020 covers three "F Minor," Scale Sequencing licks that involve examples of; a 16th-Note Triplet Sequence on Two-Strings, a Diatonic 3rd's Sequence descending across the span of the neck, (13th fret to the 1st). And, an "Evolving /Adapting In-Position Sequence."
I've included references and layouts for all of the Natural Minor Scale neck patterns.

Sign into the website with your free members account to watch the lesson, and be sure to download the PDF lesson handout. 

If you're not currently a FREE member of the website, sign up today!


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The Most Important Scales for Guitar Players...

Scales serve many purposes. They will help you understand music, how to solo, improvise, analyze chords, chord progressions, songs and many other applications that will benefit and expand your musical ability.

You need to learn and practice scales thoroughly and then use them as a tool to create music. The amount of scales out there can be overwhelming for a lot of beginner and intermediate guitar players. So do you need to learn all the scales in existence? No, you only need to learn the scale(s) relevant to your style of music or to what you plan on doing as a guitarist within your lifetime.

A lot of musicians only use one or two scales throughout their entire musical career. Depending on your skill level and musical aspirations either very few, or possibly a great deal many different scales will be required to get you where you want to be.

The question most asked is, “what scales do I need to learn first?”

Of course that question is arguable, incomplete and not all scales for particular types of music are going to be included as "the #1 scale to learn first."

If music style is brought into the equation, there can be a good indication of the most commonly used scales for guitar for "that" one particular style.

Let’s say we’re talking popular western-world music. You've got pop, rock, blues, country, metal, classical, jazz and other variations derived from these styles.

We can take a closer look, narrow it down and discover what scales are most common for each genre and which scales are used for some and most types of popular western-world music.

For instance, if you only play pop, rock or country music, the primary five most common guitar scales (major, minor pentatonic, major pentatonic, blues and natural minor ) will most likely suffice and can keep you busy and challenged for the rest of your life.

If you’re into blues and rock, start with the minor pentatonic and blues scale. The major pentatonic scale lends itself perfectly for country music and happy (major) mainstream rock and pop music. The major and minor scale are applicable to numerous types of music (mainstream, pop, classical, jazz, etc).

If you got these primary scales under your belt and you want to get more adventurous you can start exploring Mixolydian and Dorian as a next step.

The harmonic minor scale will give you that gypsy, jazz, middle eastern kind of sound. Both harmonic minor and diminished scales are used in neoclassical rock but also in metal and jazz music. Another scale that is widely used in jazz is the melodic minor scale.

Now, let’s check out the top scales to learn on guitar...
All scale types are shown off of the tonic note of "A."

The "Major" Scale (Tonic of "A")

The "Minor Pentatonic" Scale (Tonic of "A")

The "Major Pentatonic" Scale (Tonic of "A")

The "Blues" Scale (Tonic of "A")

The "Natural Minor" Scale (Tonic of "A")

The "Dorian Mode" Scale (Tonic of "A")

The "Mixolydian Mode" Scale (Tonic of "A")

The "Harmonic Minor" Scale (Tonic of "A")

The "Melodic Minor" Scale (Tonic of "A")

 The "Diminished" Scale (Tonic of "A")

Scale Study Reminders:
– Practice the scales to thoroughly memorize them
– Practice scales relevant to your style of music
– Practice scale shapes ascending and descending
– Practice the scales using alternate picking
– Practice the scales in all musical keys
– Learn to use scales as a tool to create music
– Learn the feel of scales in every rhythmic duration



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