The Ultimate Guide To Blues Arpeggios

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If you're a blues guitar player who is just beginning or an advanced player looking to learn more technical skills, you can study blues arpeggios. There are many approaches to learning new blues guitar abilities that will refine your sound, boost your talent, and open you to more creative possibilities. We aim to provide you with informative articles and lessons that will help you along the way as you develop blues guitar techniques and grow your passion for blues music.

Although many people learn to play instruments without spending time on the music theory behind their instrument, your overall experience playing the blues guitar will only improve if you educate yourself on what makes your music sound good or bad. When you first focus on the specifics and unique elements of blues guitar, you will find out more about chords, scales, and chord progressions. In this article, we are highlighting blues arpeggios to discuss how they work, what their purpose is, and how you can learn to play blues arpeggios with ease or improve like a professional.

Arpeggios In Music

Arpeggios are an important aspect of music theory that can be used in all genres though the techniques and applications vary amongst genresThey are defined as broken chords where the notes of the chord are played successively rather than simultaneously. You can use an arpeggio while playing the guitar by applying it as an accompanying feature. You can play arpeggios on an acoustic guitar by plucking or fingerpicking the notes. In terms of blues arpeggios, this technique is great for on-the-spot improvisation by a soloist rather than accompany other notes or melodies. 

Another easy way to understand them is by thinking of them as the individual notes of a chord that are played one at a time. Collectively, the notes ring together and create a unique sound through layering with other elements of the song. Practicing an arpeggio starts by playing certain notes in order as a scale. 

Generally, they are simple patterns and consist of only four notes. As you work with them and play them in a live or improvisational setting, you can mix them up and use them in a variety of creative ways. Scales and arpeggios are similar because they both require learning many notes that fit with specific chords; the difference is that scales are notes which operate in particular keys.

What Are Blues Arpeggios?

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Let's discuss more about blues music. Arpeggios are notes that are placed over certain chords which change every time the chord changes. This can amount to a dizzying number of changes and beats per minute, but they are just part of what it takes to make great blues music. Using arpeggios in blues music can be easy. Whether you're creating melodies or just improvising to switch up the chord, playing with them doesn't have to follow any pattern and can offer many cool musical discoveries.

12-Bar Blues & Arpeggios

Starting with 12-bar blues is a great stepping stone for beginners and advanced players alike. It is typical that beginners start by playing minor pentatonic as the whole sequence, playing one specific scale over several chords. As you develop your musical skills and dexterity, both in your mind and in your hands, you will begin to match notes and chords which is a natural progression to arpeggios. Using arpeggios, you can easily link chords even if they are not in the same key. This allows you to bridge between chords and follow certain scales with ease, even when the key may be fluctuating.

As you study blues guitar, you will start to hear and know arpeggios, so it will begin to make more sense. Perhaps the most important note pertaining to blues arpeggios is that they are intended for solos to match chord swaps throughout the blues progression. Arpeggios are not to be played by themselves, except while you are practicing.

Even then, we recommend using a back track to help better understand their proper use. You can even practice playing from chords and mixing up the sound rather than just using arpeggios as scales. They may sound complicated at first, but with practice and attentive listening, you will start to pick them up quickly

How Do You Play a Blues Arpeggio?

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Moving on, let's discuss the various ways you can learn how to play blues arpeggios and quickly advance your blues guitar skills. Remember that scale patterns on a guitar are paired with a particular chord and arpeggio. They all work together and by studying these relationships you can load your arsenal with more creative choices and more interesting note combinations.

As you practice, you will soon be able to label each note that works under the chords of a solo. To play blues arpeggios, remember that an arpeggio is used to play each tone of a chord on its own rather than strumming a chord which will ping each note simultaneously.

Playing Blues Guitar

The relationship between scales, arpeggios, and the chords is paramount to understanding all of your choices when playing the guitar. We suggest mastering the minor pentatonic throughout the entire neck of the guitar and memorizing major and minor chords which are easy to play at each point along the way. You can easily pair arpeggios with these chords to start jumping around and creating your own patterns.

If you are looking for more systematic learning methods and are feeling intimated by them, you can consider a few different approaches which will guide you to feel more comfortable. Our first alternative suggestions is to play broken blues arpeggios.

This is possible by choosing to break up the arpeggios rather than playing them from lowest to highest. Play the notes in a different progression with a different expression; this tip will help you learn how to incorporate them in a more soulful way. Another approach is to use arpeggios as ending notes, making the end of a progression sound better and offer a greater sense of resolution.

This is easiest as you memorize where the blues guitar arpeggios live on your guitar compared to the pentatonic scale. The contrast here will help you create more interesting compositions although they won't cancel out extreme dissonance, so it is important to maintain good taste and understanding when applying this tool.

One At a Time

There are many arpeggios to learn, and it can be overwhelming or too ambitious to try to learn more than you're ready for. Focus on learning and mastering a few arpeggios you can use; this will advance your skills much faster than any other approach. Start by learning the E and A shape root arpeggios, which will set you up to learn how chords and arpeggios fit together. It is fundamental to study the dominant pentatonic scale to know how to transition smoothly between your established skills and what you are going to learn next.

Tips and Tricks to Sound Like a Pro

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When learning about arpeggios, it is a great idea to just listen to your favorite blues music to help you identify how legendary players have used this musical feature to create blues masterpieces. Chords are more prominent amongst professional blues guitar players rather than the use of scales. Typically, these players are using arpeggios to bridge unexpected notes and create unique progressions by pairing notes that relate to whichever chord they are layering over. Studying music and the effects of how notes and chords mingle with one another will help you grow as a musician and take your blues guitar skills to a new level.

Recommended Tricks & Tips

An awesome exercise to start with is to choose a solo you like and listen to each note that gets played and its corresponding chord. You can transcribe the solo in tab notation and also add the chords above their corresponding notes. You can then label the relationship between the note and the chord it was being played over.

This is called harmonic analysis, and it will help you notice how intentional note choice must be to create something amazing. You will become inspired and gain a deeper understanding of arpeggios and their applications. They can be complicated to learn, but you can easily master chord tones with practice and dedication. The potential with arpeggios is limitless, and by learning them, you will have more confidence in creating your own melodies, riffs, progressions, and solos over specific chords.


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As you move through various lessons and new aspects of blues guitar, we hope that you find the information in this article to be useful and insightful. Just like learning any other skill, blues guitar is challenging but also very rewarding, because as you learn, you become capable of creating your own, unique music. We recommend using guitar tabs, instructional videos, and other blog posts on this site to keep learning more about blues guitar, blues arpeggios, and how you can push your talents in new directions.

Blues arpeggios are a challenging aspect of musical theory, but if you can dedicate time and energy into learning and mastering this aspect of blues guitar, you will easily create more exciting and interesting musical pieces.

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