Recently, I began practicing guitar more regularly after a nearly 14 year practicing hiatus and I wanted to share some of those routines. In this post I will cover some fundamental arpeggios which are an excellent mechanism for building up fluidity across the fretboard.
While typical arpeggio patterns you may have seen focus on common triadic shapes, I want to focus on 7th chord 2-note per string patterns that are repetitive and can easily expand diagonally on the fretboard.
I typically categorize them by chord family, flavor, and length.
Chord Flavors: flattened fifth (b5), sharpened or augmented fifth (#5)
Length: ~2.5 octaves and ~3+ octaves (requiring a jump somewhere)
Generally, I focus on two types of patterns for each chord/flavor/length: arpeggios beginning on the lower E string, and arpeggios that begin on the A string. These end up hitting different paths in the fretboard, even though they share common shapes.
In either case, I follow a personal rule for the 3-octave arpeggios - they should aim to expand on the D string whenever possible (i.e. it requires playing 2 notes followed by a jump on the same string and then playing 2 more notes higher). The reason is simple: the D string is preceded and succeeded by strings tuned in 4ths and therefore there are no odd pitch shifts happening right after the expansion, as would be the case with the G string followed by B, a major 3rd up. I also try to avoid these jumps in the B and E strings as they have notes in the melody register and expansions are more challenging to execute in a seamless way. Lastly, I avoid the lower E, and A strings because of their low registers and intonation issues with these types of transitions. Overall, using the D-string tends to make lines more fluent and opens up possibilities in improvisation.
I specifically pay a lot of attention to the altered fifth versions of each chord as well as the diminished scale. These are not exotic flavors but they play a fundamental role in functional harmony. For example a Major 7 b5 arpeggio outlines the Dom 7 chord a whole step above it, a Minor 7 b5 arpeggio outlines the Dom 7 chord a major third below it, and so on.
Below are the patterns shown in the video.
G Major 7
G Major 7 b5
G Major 7 #5
G Dominant 7
G Dominant 7 b5
G Dominant 7 #5
G Minor 7
G Minor 7 b5
I couldn't cover these with another video due to time limitations.
C Major 7
I am going to leave it up to the reader to come up with patterns the rest of these arpeggios. When doing so, keep in mind three things:
Try expanding them along the D string for reasons mentioned above
Try substituting a 4th finger with a 3rd finger for any landing note above the 12th fret because frets are closer together in that region. When viable, 3 is usually easier to play than 4.
Try maintain a 2-note per string pattern, even if sometimes it may lead to odd shapes and uncomfortable fingerings. I would argue that some of the clustered triadic shapes which are trivial to play really don't lend themselves well for expanding across the board without sacrificing line fluidity and range.
Keep in mind that this stuff works for me, it should generally work for others, but it may also not work for some. Ultimately you have to find a good balance between borrowing others' ideas and ideas that work well for you.
I hope this was helpful in some way and I welcome any feedback.