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      Hello again, and welcome to Master Class. This lesson will cover some additional Major and minor arpeggio shapes. As in the previous lesson, I'll graphically illustrate the shapes, and provide tips for playing them. I'll also give you tips for sweep picking these arpeggios. As I mentioned in Master Class #1, these lessons are intended for those who already have a few years' experience playing guitar. I'm going to dive right in without a lot of preamble, but I will try to explain things as clearly as possible. As always, you can email at: jeffrey@jrsmoots.com if you have questions.

Numbering the fingers

Fretting hand numbering scheme

       The arpeggios shown below have specific fingering suggestions for the fretting hand. The fretting hand fingers are numbered, one through four. You'll see the fingering suggestions shown inside the fingering circles.

So let's dive in to some more arpeggio shapes!


Major arpeggio       Let's start this lesson with some Major arpeggio shapes. The figure at left shows a basic Major triad (with octave). What's interesting about this arpeggio is that it is acutally two different arpeggio's, depending upon how you look at it. One way is to treat it as an arpeggio played in standard root, third, fifth order. This means the root is on the G string, and that determines the name of the arpeggio.

      Another way to look at this arpeggio is to think of the root note being on the B string. So, the order of the notes in this case is fifth, root, third, (octave fifth). I bring this up because this arpeggio is part of a larger arpeggio shape shown next.

      Note also that this is a movable shape. You can play it anywhere on the fretboard. The name of the arpeggio is determined by which note you decide is the root (either the note on the G string or the note on the B string).
Major arpeggio       Here's an elaboration on the first arpeggio shown. The figure at left shows a basic major triad played in two octaves.

      Note also that this is a movable shape. You can play it anywhere on the fretboard. The name of the chord is determined by whatever note your fourth finger (on the A string) starts upon. For example, if you play the arpeggio shape with your fourth finger starting at the fifth fret, then you are playing a D Major arpeggio.
Minor arpeggio       Now we'll move on to some minor arpeggio shapes. The figure at left shows a basic minor triad (with octave). Like its major arpeggio cousin we just learned, you can look at this shape in two ways: root, third, fifth, (octave root); or fifth, root, third, (octave fifth).

      Note also that this is a movable shape. You can play it anywhere on the fretboard. The name of the arpeggio is determined by which note you decide is the root (either the note on the G string or the note on the B string). To put it plainly, you decide whether the root of the arpeggio is on the G string, or the B string.

      A little confusing, I know. The point is simply that the arpeggio creates two different minor chords, depending on which note you decide is the root. Further explanation of this will be the topic of one of my upcoming lessons.
Minor arpeggio       Here's an elaboration of the minor arpeggio shown above. The figure at left shows a basic minor triad played in two octaves.

      Note also that this is a movable shape. You can play it anywhere on the fretboard. The name of the chord is determined by whatever note your fourth finger (on the A string) starts upon. For example, if you play the arpeggio shape with your fourth finger starting at the fifth fret, then you are playing a D minor arpeggio.

      Once you've got these two memorized, it's time to try sweep picking them. This is much easier than it may sound. The key is to start slowly, and build up your accuracy. Many people immediately try to sweep these as fast as possible and the usual result is a mushy sound, with no clear articulation of the notes.

      Begin by getting your fretting hand into the shape you'll be playing, with your fingers poised to fret the notes. Then slowly begin a downstroke with your pick, fretting each note individually as you pick it. Practice this method, and you'll soon be sweeping clearly and accurately.

When you've got the ascending sweep under control, try sweeping these shapes descending (I mean start on the highest note and sweep backward with an upstroke). Sweeping descending can be a little trickier than ascending, so give it time. To make things easier when descending, try pulling off the first note in the arpeggio, then sweep picking the rest of the notes.

      The next lesson will show two additional advanced shapes I use when playing arpeggios. Then we'll move on to more complex chord shapes (ie. 7ths, 9ths, etc.). But as I always say, get the basics down first before you move on to the hard stuff!


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Master Class: Lesson 3 - More Arpeggios