Minor Arpeggio Pattern #1 for Guitar

A guitar arpeggio is a chord whose notes are played one at a time instead of simultaneously. It’s sort of the exploded view of a chord. Minor arpeggios can be applied to music in minor keys and in major keys that contain minor chords. That includes just about everything! When the music you’re playing calls for a minor chord, you can play a minor chord, or you can use a minor arpeggio for a different texture. You can also use a minor arpeggio as a single-note idea if the underlying harmony corresponds to the arpeggio’s minor chord counterpart.

Only one note defines the difference between a major and a minor arpeggio — and that’s the 3rd of the chord. If you've practiced the major arpeggio patterns, these exercises may appear eerily familiar because the majority of the notes in any minor arpeggio and its corresponding major counterpart are the same! But the musical effect couldn’t be more different.

As you work through these arpeggios, play each one slowly, loudly, and deliberately at first to build strength and confidence in your fingers. Then play them faster and lighter, which better simulates the way arpeggios appear in real music. Just be sure to maintain your starting tempo and dynamic level (loudness) throughout each exercise.

The following figure shows an A minor arpeggio in 5th position in both a neck diagram and in music and tab format. Because minor arpeggio pattern #1 includes no out-of-position notes (notes that don’t fall within the four-fret span defined by the position and that require stretches by the 1st or 4th finger to play), this pattern is great for becoming familiar with the sound of a minor arpeggio without having to worry about stretching. You can sometimes employ the technique of flattening a finger into a mini-barre (a partial barre that covers just two or three strings) to play consecutive strings at the same fret. You may find this easier than jumping the finger from string to string, especially at fast tempos.

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Click here to download and print this arpeggio pattern.

The following figure shows minor arpeggio pattern #1 in the key of F minor in 1st position. An arpeggio has fewer notes than a scale, so the arpeggio may seem a little short. To make sure you get your money’s worth, you go up and down the pattern twice. Make sure to closely monitor your rhythm here; the tendency is to rush on the way up and drag on the way down. Break out the metronome to help keep your practice honest!

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Now try this exercise, which is in 8th-position C minor. If you want to achieve a more legato (smooth and connected) sound, you can employ two mini-barres, each with a different finger. For example, play a 3rd-finger mini-barre for the notes on the 4th and 5th strings. Then play a 1st-string mini-barre on the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings.

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