Arpeggios – Broken Chords

The word Arpeggio refers to a “Broken Chord”. Which is a different name for the same concept.  An Arpeggio is nothing more than a chord where you play the notes in the chord one by one or individually.  If I want to play the G-Major7th arpeggio on my guitar I would start with the Root note then play the third, next the fifth and lastly the seventh.  Thus playing the chord broken down into pieces.  The sweeping licks in metal are often just arpeggios  or “broken chords” that are played note for note with a sweeping motion or generally using the sweeping technique. Click here for more on sweeping.

Arpeggios are used when we want to play chord specific notes. Thus Knowing arpeggios and using them when improvising is important when you want the solo or melody notes to fit perfectly with the underlying chord which kind of goes without saying because that particular note is in the chord anyway.

On this page I cover the 4 main types of seventh chords played as arpeggios (each note individually). The Major7th, Minor7th, Dominant7th and finally Minor7b5.  These are the arpeggios you need to master if you want to be able to do jazz improvisations.

Major Seventh Arpeggio

Major 7th arpeggio formula

The first Arpeggio that we cover is the Major7th Arpeggio or specifically G-major7th this is because this is the first chord in the Major chord progression is a Major 7th.  If you are not sure what I mean by chord progression you should check out the  Chord Progression page and video.

Remember you can change the key of the Arpeggio-pattern by moving it up or down the Fretboard horizontally.  If you want to play the G# (G Sharp) arpeggio you would move all the patterns or individual notes, in the video below, up one semitone or fret changing the Root from G to G#.   Similarly you can take a look at this video which shows the same patters, same arpeggio in different key or C: C Major 7th Arpeggio.


Minor Seventh Arpeggio


Now for the Minor7th Arpeggio. The video below covers the A minor 7th Arpeggio in four variations. When you’ve learned learned the Minor 7th arpeggio in A, try learning the same pattern/idea in a different key:  E minor 7th Arpeggio.


Dominant Seventh Arpeggio

Dominant 7th arpeggio formula

Now for the Dominant 7th the choice was simple for the key or note in this case because there is only one dominant 7th chord in the Major Chord progression. That is the fifth chord or like in the case of G Major Progression D dominant 7th.  Check out the same pattern in different key: E Dominant 7th Arpeggio.


Minor Seventh Flat Five Arpeggio

Minor 7th Flat 5 arpeggio formula

Finally we’ve got the pesky half-diminished or Minor7th♭5  which of there is only one in the chord progression of G-Major, the seventh chord, F#-Minor7th-♭5.  Try comparing the video below to this video featuring the same patterns in different key: B -minor7th-b5.