Are Guitar Scale Patterns Like Arpeggios?

Electric-guitarI 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)

Scale patterns on the other hand, are quite different. A scale on the other hand gives us the notes we can use for a particular key. Chords come from scales, by the way.

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.

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    1. Hey Bryan, “arpeggio” refers to a style of playing notes, as I explained in the article above. Those notes come from scales, but you can’t have an “arpeggio scale” per se. You could play through the scale – the same one as you’d use for any other occassion – in an arpeggio manner.

      Here’s something to try – find the notes in a G major chord on your guitar (they’re G, B, D). Now, have a look at a scale from the key of G (G major, E minor, etc) and then play those G, B, D notes one after the other, individually. As you look around the fretboard there are many places you can line these notes up so you can play them together nice and quickly, and yet distinctly.

  1. I was interested in more of a style like say malmsteen or Jeff Loomis or Vai .But I’ll work on what you advised .Like your program very informative, wish I had this when I was just starting out,Thank you

    1. Yeah, I kind of gathered that. But what they’re doing is pretty much what I explained, albeit using more notes and working off more complex chords. The heart of what they’re doing though is playing chords note by note. First, learn to spot the note combinations that work (that’s where theory comes in), second, begin working on your technique. Muting is huge, because that’s what allows one note to stop and the next to come through. Cheers.

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