The Muse's Muse  
Muses MailMuses Newsmuse chatsongwriting resource home
Regular Columnists

Want To Play Cool Arpeggio Guitar Licks? Do This:
By Tom Hess - 12/21/2015 - 01:58 PM EST

Tired of playing boring arpeggio licks and want to make them more creative? Here’s how: focus a lot more on applying the arpeggio patterns you already know as creatively as possible instead of looking for tons of new patterns or exercises. This is not difficult to do and you can easily turn the patterns you know into badass guitar licks using the following 4 approaches:

Approach One: Expanding Common Triad Arpeggios

You’re not stuck with only using basic major, minor or diminished arpeggios. Use additional notes by adding them on top of the basic triad to make interesting extended sweep picking shapes that will cause your arpeggios to sound a lot more unique.

Check out the video below to understand more about how this is done:

Check out the second part of this sweep picking guitar technique video to learn more sweep picking shapes to add to your guitar playing style.

Approach Two: Use Arpeggio Shapes That Move Across The Entire Fretboard

Your arpeggios will quickly become boring if you repeat them over and over. Instead of doing this, you can make your arpeggio licks sound much more creative and interesting by combining them with other guitar techniques. This will give your guitar phrasing a sense of variety whenever you use arpeggios. This applies even more when used with the concept of extending arpeggios as previously mentioned.

Here is an example that utilizes an A minor arpeggio pattern all over the fretboard, and combines different arpeggio patterns together:

Hear It

In addition to improving your creativity with arpeggios and developing your overall guitar technique, combining arpeggio shapes together in this way increases your fretboard visualization skills. This is crucial for becoming more creative as a guitarist, improviser and songwriter and helps you quickly recall new music you just learned with greater accuracy.

Notice: Fretboard visualization is a specialized skill that needs to be practiced and developed, just like any other guitar technique or skill. To get the most out of your progress with this skill, you have to constantly track your progress with it. Check out this tool for making tons of progress on guitar to understand how to do this a lot more effectively.

Approach Three: Using Arpeggios Together With Different Guitar Techniques

As soon as you learn a new arpeggio shape, start using it in all areas of the fretboard in order to connecting all the shapes of the arpeggio together. This will both help improve your overall guitar technique AND give you more creative freedom while improvising or thinking of new guitar licks.

You can integrate arpeggios with general legato technique, tapping, string skips, tremolo picking and any other guitar technique you can think of.

For example, here is a major seventh arpeggio that was made by adding notes to a basic major triad while using hammer ons, pull offs and tapping technique:

Hear It

To find more sweep picking shapes like this, see this video about improving your sweep picking guitar technique.

Approach Four: Lay Out Arpeggios Over Different Chords

In addition to knowing HOW you should play arpeggios, you also need to practice changing WHEN you play arpeggios. What does this mean? The easiest and way to play and arpeggio is to play it over a chord of the same name (for example: a C major arpeggio played over a C major chord). Of course, you can play the same C major arpeggio over countless other chords to create unique and expressive results, for example: F major, G major, D minor, or E minor.

Here is an example that compares two chords: D minor and Bb major.

The D minor arpeggio contains the following 3 notes: D, F and A. The Bb major chord has the notes: Bb, D, F. Notice that two of these notes (D and F) are shared in common by both chords. So when you play a D minor arpeggio over Bb major, you’re playing two common notes (D and F) and one unshared note (A). This results in your ears hearing a Bb major 7 chord (made of notes Bb D F A).

So by altering when the arpeggio is used (by choosing which chords you play it above), you have the ability to change the way any sweep picking lick feels. Listen to this example of an A minor arpeggio being combined together with these chords: A minor, F major, C major, D minor, E minor.

Hear It

Begin using these ideas in your general guitar playing and you will open the door to a new level of creativity within your sweep picking arpeggio phrasing. To get more information about improving your sweep picking skills, check out this free video about playing creative arpeggios on guitar.


About The Author:

Tom Hess is a professional touring musician, composer and successful rock/metal guitar teacher. He helps guitarists around the world learn to play guitar online. On his website, you can find guitar playing tips, free guitar resources and more guitar articles.

[ Current Articles | Archives ]

Help For Newcomers
Help for Newcomers
Helpful Resources
Helpful Resources
Regular Columnists
Music Reviews
Services Offered
About the  Muse's Muse
About Muse's Muse
Subscribe to The Muse's News, free monthly newsletter for songwriters
with exclusive articles, copyright & publishing advice, music, website & book reviews, contest & market information, a chance to win prizes & more!

Join today!

Created & Maintained
by Jodi Krangle


© 1995 - 2016, The Muse's Muse Songwriting Resource. All rights reserved.

Read The Muse's Muse Privacy Statement