Arpeggio: What Is It And How To Use It With Guitar

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 16, 2022

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Arpeggio, a great way to spice up your playing and impress the crowds….but what is it, and how do you get into it?

Arpeggio is a musical term for “broken chord,” a group of notes played in a broken manner. It can be played on one or more strings, and ascending or descending. The word comes from the Italian “arpeggiare,” to play on a harp, one note at a time instead of strumming.

In this guide, I’ll show you everything you need to know about arpeggios and how to impress YOUR friends.

What is an arpeggio

How Arpeggios Can Spice Up Your Playing

What are Arpeggios?

Arpeggios are like the hot sauce of guitar playing. They add a kick to your solos and make them sound way cooler. An arpeggio is a chord broken up into individual notes. So, when you play an arpeggio, you’re playing all the notes of the chord at the same time.

What Can Arpeggios Do For You?

  • Arpeggios make your playing sound fast and flowing.
  • You can use them to spice up your improvisation skills.
  • They provide a melodic home base for improvising guitarists.
  • You can use them to create cool-sounding licks.
  • They always sound good over their matching chord in a progression.
  • Check out this guitar chord chart to visualize the notes of each arpeggio on the guitar neck. (opens in new tab)

What Are the Best Guitar Arpeggios to Learn First?

Major and Minor Triads

So you want to learn guitar arpeggios, eh? Well, you’ve come to the right place! The best place to start is with the major and minor triads. These are the most common and widely used arpeggios in all of music.

A triad is made up of three notes, but you can add more chords to it like a major seventh, ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth to really make your arpeggios stand out! Here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to know:

  • Major Triad: 1, 3, 5
  • Minor Triad: 1, b3, 5
  • Major Seventh: 1, 3, 5, 7
  • Ninth: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9
  • Eleventh: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11
  • Thirteenth: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13

So there you have it! With these chords, you can create some seriously awesome arpeggios that will have your friends and family saying “Wow!”

What’s the Deal with Guitar Arpeggios?

What is an Arpeggio?

So, you’ve heard the word “arpeggio” thrown around and you’re wondering what it’s all about? Well, it’s actually an Italian word that means “to play a harp”. In other words, it’s when you pluck the strings of a guitar one at a time instead of strumming them all together.

Why Should I Care?

Arpeggios are a great way to add some flavor to your guitar playing. Plus, they can help you create some really cool sounding riffs and solos. So, if you want to take your guitar playing to the next level, arpeggios are definitely something you should look into.

How Do I Get Started?

Getting started with arpeggios is actually pretty easy. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Start by learning the basics of chords. This will help you understand how arpeggios work.
  • Practice playing arpeggios with a metronome. This will help you get the timing down.
  • Experiment with different rhythms and patterns. This will help you create unique sounds.
  • Have fun! Arpeggios can be a great way to spice up your playing and make it more interesting.

What’s the Difference Between Scales and Arpeggios?

What are Scales?

  • Scales are like a musical roadmap – they’re a series of notes that you play one after the other, all within a certain key signature. For example, the G major scale would be G, A, B, C, D, E, F#.

What are Arpeggios?

  • Arpeggios are like a musical jigsaw puzzle – they’re a series of notes that you play one after the other, but they’re all notes from a single chord. So, the G major arpeggio would be G, B, D.
  • You can play scales and arpeggios in ascending, descending or random order.

Unraveling the Mystery of Arpeggiated Chords

When you think of guitar playing, the first thing that comes to mind is probably strumming. But there’s a whole other world of guitar playing out there – arpeggiation, or arpeggiated chords. You’ve probably heard it in the music of R.E.M., the Smiths, and Radiohead. It’s a great way to add texture and depth to your guitar playing.

What is Arpeggiation?

Arpeggiation is a technique used to break up chords and play them one note at a time. This creates a unique sound that can be used to add texture and interest to your guitar playing. It’s a great way to add depth and complexity to your music.

How to Play Arpeggiated Chords

There are several different ways to play arpeggiated chords. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Alternate picking: This involves picking each note of the chord in a steady, alternating pattern.
  • Fingerpicking: This involves plucking each note of the chord with your fingers.
  • Hybrid picking: This involves using a combination of your pick and your fingers to play the chord.

No matter which technique you use, the most important thing is to make sure each note is sounded individually and allowed to resonate.

Example of Arpeggiated Chords

For a great example of arpeggiated chords, check out the Fender lesson on the R.E.M. classic “Everybody Hurts.” The verses of this song feature two arpeggiated open chords, D and G. It’s a great way to get started with arpeggiated chords.

So if you’re looking to add some texture and depth to your guitar playing, arpeggiated chords are a great way to do it. Give it a try and see what you can come up with!

How to Master Arpeggio Shapes

The CAGED System

If you’re looking to become a guitar master, you’ll need to learn the CAGED system. This system is the key to unlocking the mysteries of arpeggio shapes. It’s like a secret code that only the most experienced guitarists know.

So, what is the CAGED system? It stands for the five shapes of arpeggios: C, A, G, E, and D. Each shape has its own unique sound and can be used to create some truly magical music.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you want to master arpeggio shapes, you’ll need to practice. It’s not enough to just learn the shapes – you need to get comfortable playing them in different positions on the neck. That way, you’ll become familiar with the shape of the arpeggio rather than just memorizing which frets to put your fingers in.

Once you’ve got one shape down, you can move onto the next. Don’t try to learn all five shapes at once – it’s far better to be able to play one perfectly than five poorly.

Get Moving

Once you’ve got the shapes down, it’s time to start moving. Practice transitioning from one arpeggio shape to another, back and forth. This will help you develop your skills and make your playing sound more natural.

So, if you want to become a guitar master, you’ll need to master the CAGED system. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to play arpeggios like a pro. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start shredding!

Learning to Play the Arpeggio from the Root Note

What is an Arpeggio?

An arpeggio is a musical technique that involves playing the notes of a chord in a sequence. It’s like playing a scale, but with chords instead of individual notes.

Getting Started with the Root Note

If you’re just starting out with arpeggios, it’s important to start and end with the root note. That’s the note that the chord is built on. Here’s how to get started:

  • Begin with the lowest pitched root note.
  • Play up as high as you can.
  • Then go back down as low as you can.
  • Finally, head back up to the root note.

Train Your Ears to Hear the Sound of the Scale

Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to get serious. You want to train your ears to recognize the sound of the scale. So, start playing those notes and don’t stop until you can hear the sweet sound of success!

Getting Shreddy With It – Arpeggios & Metal

The Basics

The metal and shred scenes are the birthplace of some of the most creative and wild arpeggio ideas. (Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Arpeggios From Hell” is a great example of this.) Metal players use arpeggios to create sharp-angled riffs and also as a lead. Here’s a quick breakdown of the three- and four-note arpeggio types:

  • Minor 7 Arpeggio: A, C, E and G
  • First Inversion: C, E, G and A
  • Second Inversion: E, G, A and C

Taking It To The Next Level

If you want to take your arpeggio licks to the next level, you’ll need to work on your picking technique. Here are some of the advanced picking techniques you should look into:

  • Sweep picking: This is a technique where the pick slides from one string to the next, kind of like a strum and a single-note down- or upstroke combined.
  • Two-handed tapping: This is when both hands are used to hammer-on and pull-off the fretboard in a rhythmic pattern.
  • String-skipping: This is a way to play wide-interval licks and patterns by hopping between nonadjacent strings.
  • Tapping and string-skipping: This is the combination of both tapping and string-skipping.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about arpeggios, triads and chords, sign up for your free trial of Fender Play. It’s the perfect way to get shreddy with it!

Different Ways to Play Arpeggios

Alternate Picking

Alternate picking is like a tennis match between your right and left hands. You hit the strings with your pick and then your fingers take over to keep the beat going. It’s a great way to get your fingers used to the rhythm and speed of playing arpeggios.


Legato is the fancy way of saying “smoothly”. You play each note of the arpeggio without any breaks or pauses between them. This is a great way to make your playing sound more fluid and effortless.

Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

Hammer-ons and pull-offs are like a game of tug-of-war between your fingers. You use your fretting hand to hammer-on or pull-off the notes of the arpeggio. This is a great way to add dynamics and expression to your playing.

Sweep Picking

Sweep picking is like a roller coaster ride. You use your pick to sweep across the strings of the arpeggio in one smooth motion. This is a great way to add speed and excitement to your playing.


Tapping is like a drum solo. You use your fretting hand to tap the strings of the arpeggio in quick succession. This is a great way to add some flair and showmanship to your playing.

Lead Techniques

For the more experienced player, there are some lead techniques that can help you take your arpeggio playing to the next level. Here are a few to try out:

  • String Skipping: This is when you jump from one string to another without playing the notes in between.
  • Finger Rolling: This is when you roll your fingers across the strings of the arpeggio in one smooth motion.

So if you’re looking to add some spice to your arpeggio playing, why not give some of these techniques a try? You never know what kind of cool sounds you might come up with!


Arpeggio Vs Triad

Arpeggio and triad are two different ways of playing chords. An arpeggio is when you play the notes of a chord one after the other, like a broken chord. A triad is a special type of chord made up of three notes: a root, third, and fifth. So, if you want to play a chord in an arpeggio style, you’d play the notes one after the other, but if you want to play a triad, you’d play all three notes at the same time.

The difference between arpeggio and triad is subtle but important. Arpeggio gives you a more mellow, flowing sound, while triad gives you a fuller, richer sound. So, depending on the type of music you’re playing, you’ll want to choose the appropriate style. If you want a more mellow sound, go with arpeggio. If you want a fuller sound, go with triad.


Are Chord Tones The Same As Arpeggios?

No, chord tones and arpeggios are not the same thing. Chord tones are the notes of a chord, while an arpeggio is a technique of playing those notes. So, if you’re playing a chord, you’re playing the chord tones, but if you’re playing an arpeggio, you’re playing those same notes in a specific way. It’s like the difference between eating a pizza and making a pizza – they both involve the same ingredients, but the end result is totally different!

Is The Pentatonic Scale In An Arpeggio?

Using the pentatonic scale in an arpeggio is a great way to add some flavor to your music. A pentatonic scale is a five-note scale that contains the 1, 3, 5, 6, and 8 notes of a major or minor scale. When you play the notes of a pentatonic scale in an arpeggio, you create a chord-like sound that can be used to add a unique flavor to your music. Plus, it’s super easy to learn and use. So, if you’re looking to add some extra pizzazz to your tunes, give the pentatonic scale arpeggio a try!

Why Are They Called Arpeggios?

Arpeggios are so named because they sound like someone plucking the strings of a harp. The word arpeggio comes from the Italian word arpeggiare, which means to play on a harp. So when you hear a song with an arpeggio, you can imagine someone strumming away on a harp. It’s a beautiful sound, and it’s been used in music for centuries. Arpeggios can be used to create a wide range of musical effects, from a gentle, dreamy atmosphere to a more intense, dramatic sound. So the next time you hear a song with an arpeggio, you can thank the Italian word arpeggiare for its beautiful sound.

Who Invented Arpeggio?

Who invented arpeggio? Well, the credit goes to a Venetian amateur musician named Alberti. It’s said that he invented the technique around 1730, and his ‘VIII Sonate per Cembalo’ is where we find the earliest signs of emancipation from the contrapuntal form of accompaniment. So, if you’re a fan of arpeggios, you can thank Alberti for bringing them to life!

What Is The Difference Between A Scale And An Arpeggio?

When it comes to music, scales and arpeggios are two different beasts. A scale is like a ladder, with each step representing a note. It’s a series of notes that all fit together in a certain pattern. An arpeggio, on the other hand, is like a chord that’s been broken up into pieces. Instead of playing all the notes of the chord at once, you play them one at a time in a sequence. So while a scale is a pattern of notes, an arpeggio is a pattern of chords. In short, scales are like ladders and arpeggios are like puzzles!

What Is The Symbol For Arpeggio?

Are you a musician looking for a way to spice up your chords? Look no further than the arpeggio symbol! This vertical wavy line is your ticket to playing chords quickly and spread out, one note after the other. It’s like a trill extension line, but with a twist. You can choose to play your chords up or down, starting from either the top or bottom note. And if you want to play all the notes together, just use a bracket with straight lines. So don’t be afraid to get creative and add some arpeggio symbols to your music!

Should I Learn Scales Or Arpeggios First?

If you’re just starting out on the piano, you should definitely learn scales first. Scales are the basis for all the other techniques you’ll learn on the piano, like arpeggios. Plus, scales are easier to play than arpeggios, so you’ll get the hang of them quicker. And, the first scale you should learn is C Major, since it’s at the top of the Circle of Fifths. Once you have that down, you can move on to the other scales, both major and minor. Then, you can start learning arpeggios, which are made based on their respective scales. So, if you know your scales, you know your arpeggios!

Is Arpeggio Melody Or Harmony?

An arpeggio is like a broken chord – instead of playing all the notes at once, they’re played one after the other. So, it’s more of a harmony than a melody. Think of it like a jigsaw puzzle – all the pieces are there, but they’re not put together in the usual way. It’s still a chord, but it’s broken up into individual notes that you can play one after the other. So, if you’re looking for a melody, an arpeggio isn’t the way to go. But if you’re looking for a harmony, it’s perfect!

What Are The 5 Arpeggios?

Arpeggios are a technique used by guitarists to create clear and effective lines. There are five main types of arpeggios: minor, major, dominant, diminished, and augmented. Minor arpeggios are made up of three notes: a perfect fifth, a minor seventh, and a diminished seventh. Major arpeggios are made up of four notes: a perfect fifth, a major seventh, a minor seventh, and a diminished seventh. Dominant arpeggios are made up of four notes: a perfect fifth, a major seventh, a minor seventh, and an augmented seventh. Diminished arpeggios are made up of four notes: a perfect fifth, a minor seventh, a diminished seventh, and an augmented seventh. Lastly, augmented arpeggios are made up of four notes: a perfect fifth, a major seventh, a minor seventh, and an augmented seventh. So, if you want to create some cool guitar lines, you’ll want to get familiar with these five types of arpeggios!

What Is The Most Useful Arpeggio For Guitar?

Learning guitar can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! The most useful arpeggio for guitar is the major and minor triad. These two arpeggios are the most common and widely used in all of music. They’re the perfect place to start for any aspiring guitarist. Plus, they’re super easy to learn and can be used in a variety of musical styles. So don’t be afraid to give them a try! With a little practice, you’ll be playing like a pro in no time.

Why Do Arpeggios Sound So Good?

Arpeggios are a beautiful thing. They’re like a musical hug, wrapping you up in a warm embrace of sound. But why do they sound so good? Well, it’s all down to the math. Arpeggios are made up of notes from the same chord, and the frequencies between them have a mathematical relationship that just sounds great. Plus, it’s not like the notes are chosen randomly – they’re carefully selected to create the perfect sound. So, if you’re ever feeling down, just listen to an arpeggio – it’ll make you feel like you’re getting a big hug from the universe.


Add a little flair to your solos with broken chords and it’s quite easy to get into with the CAGED system and the five shapes for each arpeggio we discussed.

So don’t be afraid to ROCK out and give it a try! After all, as they say, practice makes perfect – or at least ‘ARPEGGfect’!

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

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