A couple of weeks ago, I was watching this video from Paul Davids in which he describes a couple of simple ways to do arpeggios on guitar.

The method he describes is nice because it lets you do an arpeggio for any four-note chord on just two strings, using a couple of simple patterns.

Ex. to do an arpeggio of an Amaj7:

E ——————————————
B ——————————————
G ——————————————
D ——————————————
A ————————7———11
E —5———9————————

Start at the root note (A), go up four frets to play the major 3rd (C#). Go down a string and up two frets from where you started the last bit to the 5th (E), then up another four frets to get the major 7 (G#).

It's two major third intervals (four frets each).

And if you want to do an A minor 7th:

E ——————————————
B ——————————————
G ——————————————
D ——————————————
A ————————7——10—
E —5———6————————

Two minor third intervals (three frets each).

So, it's:

  1. If you chord is major, the first two notes are four frets apart. Otherwise, they're three frets apart.
  2. Move down one string and over two frets for the next two.
  3. If your chord has a major 7th, the third and fourth notes are four frets apart. Otherwise, they're three frets apart.

That's pretty nice. But, that four fret stretch is tough for me - maybe I have stiff little fingers or something.

But, it's easy enough to refactor this idea into something that takes no reach at all:


E ——————————————
B ——————————————
G ——————————————
D ———————————6——
A ————4———7—————
E —5————————————

If you can play a basic open G (or C) chord, the shape here will feel completely natural: root on middle finger, major third on index finger. Then drop your fingers down a string and up two frets and play that same shape.

Similarly, for a minor 7th (ex C#m7):

E ——————————————
B ——————————————
G ————————————4—
D ————2———6—————
A —4———————————
E ——————————————

Again, it's a simple shape (though maybe not one you're used to): root on ring finger, second note (minor third) is one string down and two frets back on your index finger. Then down a string, up two frets and repeat.

And, as with Paul Davids' method, you can mix the two shapes. First two notes in the G shape and next two in the G minor shape gives you a classic 7th chord.

Ex. E7:

E ——————————————
B ——————————————
G ————————————7—
D —————6———9————
A —7————————————
E ——————————————

So, mine is:

  1. If you chord is major, use the G shape for the first two notes. Otherwise, use the 'G minor' shape.
  2. Move down one string and over two frets for the next two.
  3. If your chord has a major 7th, use the G shape. Otherwise use the 'G minor' shape.

And if you do those three arpeggios (Amaj7, C#m7, E7, plus one for Dmaj7) on a bass, you get HFY.

If you mix the shapes the other way around - minor third then major third - you get the lovely 'minor major 7' chord:
Ex. Am maj7:

E ——————————————
B ——————————————
G ——————————————
D ———————————6——
A ————3———7—————
E —5————————————

A minor major 7 chord is an unusual one in popular/rock music. But, this chord does appears (incidentally, I'm guessing) in at least one very popular tune. It's in the chords at the end of the verses in The Beatles' "Something":

Am "I don't want to leave her now"
Am maj7
A7 "You know I believe and how"

  Am AmM7  A7  D7
E 0———0————0———2————
B 1———1————1———1————
G 2———1————0———2————
D 2———2————2———0————
A 0———0————0———————
E ——————————————

That G string just walks down from the octave, to the major 7 to the minor 7. AmM7 is just something that happens by virtue of that walk down - that's why I assume it's merely incidental.

By what can't be a coincidence, a similar G string walk down same happens in the first set of verse chords: C, CMaj7, C7, then an F.

  Something in the way she knows          ... attracts me like....
  C                        Cmaj7      C7
E 3                        3          3
B 5                        5          5
G 5                        4          3
D 5                        5          5
A 3                        3          3

Which brings up another fun use of arpeggios!

Put all that together and you get my rendition of that song, "Something Else".

Verses are picking on these shapes:

  C          Cmaj7      C7          F      D           G
E ——3—————3  ——3—————3  ——3—————3   5—6—8  ——5—————5   7——8——10
B ————3—5——  ————3—5——  ————3—5——   6—6—6  ————5—7——   8——8——7
G 5————————  4————————  3————————   5—5—5  7————————   7——7——7

Here, walking the low note down (while strings play the root) gives those three C chords.

And then there's that Am section, which I do as:

  Am       AmM7     A7       C
E ——6————————6————————6——————8
B ————8————7———7————6———6————8
G 7—————7————————7————————7——9

Again, just walking that one note down - root, maj 7, min 7 - on the B string this time.

Any other simple arpeggios in there? Of course!

The "You're asking me will my love grow" section:

"You're asking    me will my love   grow  
  A               C#m               F#m               A
E ——9——————9———— ———9————9————      ———9———————9———— ——9————————9——
B ————10————10——  9———9—————9—      —————10——————10— —————10——————10
G 9——————9—————— ———————9—————      —11—————11—————— 9———————9—————

I don't know              I don't             know
        D                 G                   A, G# ,G, F#, F, E.... start over at A
E       ———10———————10    ———10———————10———   12 11 10 etc.
B       ——————10——————10  ——————12———————12   14 13 12
G       11———————11       12———————12—————    14 13 12

Same picking pattern, different chord shapes.

Fun, right?