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Rick Graham - Guitar Roadmaps Part 3: Melodic Arpeggios

Lesson Notes

Guitar Roadmaps Part three – Melodic Arpeggios

** As featured in issue 3 **

So far in my series of columns we've looked at useful ways of unlocking the fretboard by manipulating scale shapes. This month I’d like to apply a similar principle to arpeggio shapes which I like to call ‘Melodic Arpeggios’. What exactly is a ‘Melodic Arpeggio’? I mean by it arpeggio shapes which can be articulated with expressive techniques such as vibrato, sliding and string bending. More often that not, when a Rock guitarist plays arpeggios they tend to be played at a face-melting speed with rapid-fire sweep picking. While there is nothing wrong with playing arpeggios in this fashion, it can become somewhat predictable to do this every time an opportunity to use an arpeggio presents itself. One of the main reasons for this is that the traditional arpeggio shapes tend to be one note per string type shapes which make it quite awkward to apply those expressive techniques.

The arpeggio shapes that we are going to learn all contain two notes on every string. The way these patterns work on the fretboard make it very easy to learn the shapes because for each pair of strings the shape is exactly the same, meaning we only have to learn one shape for each arpeggio inversion.

What I have prepared for you are five different 7th chords which are: Major 7, Minor 7, Dominant 7, Minor 7 b5 and Diminished 7 arpeggio shapes. As these arpeggios contain four different notes we have four different shapes to learn for each Inversion. I have opted to start all of these arpeggios with the 3rd inversion shape as this is by far the most often used. This is then followed by root position, 1st inversion and 2nd inversion respectively.

One of the most important things about learning these shapes is to relate them all so that you can visually see how each arpeggio shape changes due to the intervallic structure of each arpeggio. Not only does it make learning these shapes much easier, it also serves to help you think more in terms of intervals and not just shapes alone. It is a good idea to just play the 3rd inversion arpeggio on the 6th and 5th strings only for each of the 7th arpeggios as it is very easy to see the intervallic differences between each one.


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