Guitar arpeggios using the Pentatonic scale!

To start our practical lessons on guitar arpeggios, we will begin with the first scale most guitarists learn – The Pentatonic scale.

We will perform this in the key of C Major / A minor Pentatonic, which both contain the same set of notes.

First, let’s look at the intervals for the C Major Pentatonic:


Now let us take a look at how the interval formula affect the A minor Pentatonic, giving it the same selection of notes:

I ♭iiiIVV ♭Vii

If you a beginner to music theory and the above makes little sense to you, then don’t worry! This lesson does not require hardcore theory knowledge. However, it may benefit you to get an understanding by reading our lesson – Intervals and scale building

Being a 5 note scale, it comes with it’s limitations and can often leave a lot of compositions sounding dry and bland. This lesson however will be aimed at teaching you some basic shapes and patterns to get you prepared to create with more colourful scales!

Example 1:

Beginning this lesson, we have a really easy progression using power chord shapes. The example follows 12 bar blues style (I-IV-V intervals).

When arpeggiating these shapes, make sure you delegate 1 finger per string, just as you would when performing them as a chord. It would be bad practice if you were to bar the 5th fret on the A string and the 5th fret on the D string, using the same finger!

Example 2:

This example is designed to get your fingers use to some common shapes.

Unlike the last example, you may be required on performing notes from 2 strings with the same finger, such as in the 3rd bar (depending on how you wish to finger it). In such case, you will need to make sure the two notes do not clash and are performed individually.

With the final bar you have the option of barring both the 8th fret on the b string and the 8th fret of the high e string with your pinky finger. As a better alternative, you should aim to perform each note in this bar with a different finger. This would mean playing the 5th fret of the D string with your index finger, 7th fret of the G string with your middle finger, 8th fret of the b string with your ring finger, and the 8th fret of the high e string with your pinky finger.

Example 3:

A similar fingering style to our last example, with bar 4 being performed much more appropriately with 1 finger per fret! Your middle finger will naturally feel more comfortable barring both 8th fret notes, however in the long run it will lead to sloppy arpeggio playing and you will struggle with more complex shapes further down the line.

This example descends after the forth bar, giving you some good practice going up the strings as well as down.

Example 4:

This progression is similar to the last in which it ascends for 4 bars, followed by 4 bars of descending. However the note selection is different, giving a different selection of shapes and overall sound.

Example 5:

Time to practice getting your fretting fingers strength up!

This exercise uses a lot of hammer-ons to give you a finger busting work out.

Bar 7 will require you to bar both the 8th fret notes on the b and high e string, however in bar 8, practice using 1 finger per note just like before!

Example 6:

This exercise will have you practicing four string arpeggio shapes as the progression slowly ascends up scale tones all the way up your guitar fret board.

You may need to play each bar several times and try out different fingering to understand how to play it smoothly, but ideally you should stick to one finger per string for each shape.

Example 7:

Now we are going to attempt a 6 string arpeggio! This one is rather easy, however you will need to move your fretting hand appropriately for each new pattern.

The patterns beginning on bars 9 and 13 should both start with your middle finger on the low E string!

Example 8:

This exercise is a little smaller then the previous few, however it provides a little more of a challenge. It is filled with a few inverted patterns and requires your fingers to move swiftly from note to note!

Example 9:

Another exercise which utilises 6 string patterns, except your fretting hand will have to shift along with the notes as you move down the strings for a few of the bars.

Example 10:

Our final exercise for this lesson will leave you practising some string skipping!

We recommend that you first learn the shapes as if they were being performed as chords, and then playing them as they are arpeggiated. The shapes themselves are really simple and in doing so, will make the learning process a lot smoother for you!

We hope you have enjoyed learning this lesson with MeYou 😀

If you would like to check out our other guitar arpeggio lessons currently available, Click Here!

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