How To Play Awesome Guitar Solos With Arpeggios

Arpeggios are a great way to make your guitar solos sound super melodic and less like a guitar scale.

But the challenge when trying to play guitar solos with arpeggios here are the chord changes of the background music because now have to hit with three notes almost at the same time,

As opposed to using a scale where you can quickly resolve a “wrong note” to one of its neighbors and be fine 90 % of the time.

Example:

The A minor chord has the notes A, C and E in it.

If you want to play an arpeggio over this chord, you wanna hit ONLY those notes, right?

Since arpeggio implies that you are not just playing and holding out one note, but instead play a consecutive flow of different notes.

This does not come in the way when playing solos with scales.

With a scale you can just keep noodling until you have found a note that you want to hold on to for a moment.

Or don’t even stop noodling.

With arpeggios, instead of thinking one note ahead, now you have to think THREE notes ahead.

So here are my favorite ways to use arpeggios in guitar solos.

And if you want to know how to play arpeggios in the first place, check out this page.

1. Treat the arpeggio like a scale

If you have gotten ok or even good with playing solos with the pentatonic scale, this will feel like a new challenge.

You know how to create phrases and play some melodies with the pentatonic scale and maybe also the major/minor scales and its modes.

Now to play guitar solos with arpeggios, restrict yourself to only 3 different notes of an arpeggio. When playing with scales, you’re not really doing anything different.

You are restricting yourself to a certain group of notes.

A minor arpeggio tablature guitar solos with arpeggios

Usually, especially when you are just starting with soloing and don’t have much experience, you stay with the same scale for the entire solo.

Which is fine in itself. Everybody starts there.

Just make sure you don’t stay there.

But for now, this is exactly what we will do.

Can you make up something catchy over the entire chord progression, using only those 3 different notes?

It’s much easier when the chords from the backing track you are using have a lot of notes in common, like Am (A C E) – F (F A C).

That makes the resolution easy. (Just focus on the common notes)

But what if you have Am – G ??

Good luck figuring out a guitar solos with arpeggios like that 🙂

Let’s get a little less rigid now.

2. Build phrases around arpeggio shapes

Now we include some extra notes into our guitar solos with arpeggios.

We do that by inserting stepping stones from the rest of the scale into our melody.

For example:

(Picture with arpeggio + G and Arpeggio + B)

Reminder how the scale looks like with the arpeggio:

Start with creating phrases with only 1 extra note.

When you played around with for example the added G note for a while, switch to another note.

Eventually try out to add 2 extra notes in one lick and mess around with that for a while.

Remember: Stay catchy.

My recommendation:

When improvising, get started with backing tracks that have only 1 max 2 chords and change slowly

This will make the next one also much easier to get into.

3. Superimpose chords for more flavour

This sounds complicated but if you followed step 1, you already did just that, pretty much.

Only now we will look at it a bit more methodically, to play guitar solos with arpeggios.

What superimposing chords means is that you are playing one chord on top of another.

So in our previous example in 1) we occasionally played am A minor over the F major chord.

This gives a general vibe of an Fmaj7 chord (F A C E).

What about the other example? Am + G?

Now it gets nasty 🙂

If we fusion the notes just like we did before and arrange them in a chord-like order we get A C E G B D.

This could now be many different things.

Not going too theoretical now though. But one version to put a label on this chord would be:

Am7add9add11

(the 9 = B, like a 2nd scale degree and the 11 = D, like the 4th of the A minor scale)

The main takeaway: You can play whatever you want and there is always a theoretical explanation of what you did 😀

The main challenge is to make something sound good.

So if you are superimposing chords to play guitar solos with arpeggios, make sure you eventually resolve the tension of the non-chord tones.

Then your listeners will be quite happy still, regardless of any atrocities you just exposed them to.

This is a general, very fundamental musical principle that you can always refer back to:

Think in terms of Tension and Resolution.

That is all that music really is.

But more about that another time.

The way to USE superimposed chords is for example as in the first example:

You just keep playing the same arpeggio over the whole progression until it sounds good again.

Or:

You complement every chord to a 7th chord. For example:

Play a C major arpeggio over an A minor chord and you get an Am7: A C E G.

You *could* now do that over every chord but the effect would wear off quickly, so I would only do that for practicing and learning purposes.

Mess around with this idea and find ways to make this cool!

The last one is more a tip or little piece of advice:

4. Don’t play an arpeggio over EVERY chord.

Just like with every cool soloing hack, if you overuse it, it gets old and predictable.

That is also how it is like when you play guitar solos with arpeggios.

So what you should also pay attention to in your practice sessions is:

Rotate through the methods.

Either in 1-minute intervals (for example) or choosing 4 concepts and cycling them through right after each other.

For example:

1 arpeggio lick, 1 pentatonic lick, 1 lick with a string bend, 1 scale run.

If you want to take your playing further faster without anymore guess work and spinning your wheels with random online exercises like this one here, I recommend you check out the Guitaristy App

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