I had a question the other day that went something like this: "Are guitar scale patterns anything like arpeggios?"
Well, to answer in a word, no.
An arpeggio is simply where the notes are played in sequence, rather than simultaneously. For instance, if you pick each string of a G chord separately, you've played an arpeggio. (Here's a lesson on how to play arpeggios)
If you take the guitar fretboard and make a mark on every note from a particular scale, you'll find you can cover the whole fretboard with these notes. To make things simpler to learn, we can break apart all those notes into chunks... patterns...
This way you can play the whole scale keeping your hand anchored in the same place on the fretboard, covering only 4 or 5 frets. Practice that scale pattern over and over again, because that pattern is what you need to use to solo. That pattern can then be shifted into other keys simply by changing position on the neck.
That's incredibly powerful, because it means you can learn a single pattern, say for instance a major scale, and immediately you're able to play a major scale in every single key!
To learn more about how this works on your guitar, click here.