More Tips: Easy Jazz Guitar Arpeggios (Four-Note)

In this third of three articles  on how to solo over chord changes, we’ll look at this final (and awaited) jazz guitar tip:

Learn your 4-note jazz guitar arpeggios!

This is very often where beginning jazz improvisers start… the rationale is that if we improvise on a sequence of chords, then we might as well start with the “good notes” as a foundation for our solos. Right? 🙂

Indeed, this makes a lot of sense!

Notice that the notes contained in a chord (say, C major 7th = C-E-G-B) are exactly the same notes found in the assorted arpeggio. Since our aim in jazz improvisation is to reflect the chord sequence within our solo lines, then learning jazz guitar arpeggios at first is a very good idea.

A Further Answer to “Why?”

Furthermore, we did not start directly with jazz guitar arpeggios in this series simply because (I believe) it’s more important to know where the chords come from … namely: scales!

If you did you homework well (learned 7-note scales in the previous post), then the musical material in this post will take care of itself.

We’ll see that jazz guitar arpeggios are simply scales “with holes” in them. Punch-hole anyone?

Building 4-note Jazz Guitar Arpeggios

We want this series of articles and posts to be thorough, right? Se here it is: take the scale you used in the previous post, and remove the scale degrees 2, 4 and 6.

For instance, if the chord is C major 7th then:

  • The scale is C D E F G A B (i.e. 1 2 3 4 5 6)
  • The 4-note arpeggio is C E G B (i.e. 1 3 5 7)

Zat sit! Easy breezy. 🙂

“But, how do we outline chord changes now?”

No big surprise here. You know the drill: Take tune on your current tunes list and shed the heck out of 4-note arpeggios! Notice that we retain the benefit of having chord-tones falling on the strong beat of the bar of 4/4. A happy by-product of learning our scales first and then (only) “punching holes” into them to get arpeggios. 😉

(and yes, play your arpeggios in quarter-notes only!)

And, of course, watch the video above. Here’s the jazz guitar arpeggios form the example in the video (on the II-V-I in C major:

  • on Dm7 play D, F, A, C
  • on G7 play G, B, D, F
  • on C major 7 play C, E, G, B, G, E and C (or something similar)

The Course to Learn it All

Learn everything we saw in the three last blog posts and videos (including this one) in this online course:


Take a look at  Jazz Guitar: Painless Scale Positions. It is made of tons of jazz guitar arpeggios, scales exercises, chords (and more) to have you improvise over the II-V-I progression.

With 2.5 hours of video and 15 assignments, we even do all this stuff in all positions … and in all keys. PDFs with TABS included. Such a sweet jazz guitar deal. 🙂

Click here to check out the Painless Scale Positions course…

3 thoughts on “More Tips: Easy Jazz Guitar Arpeggios (Four-Note)

  1. Hey M-A,
    I’m a big fan of yours so i am sure you will take this minor criticism in the spirit it is intended. Call me old school, but I can’t take you seriously when you talk about jazz while playing a sparkling blue, solid body guitar – it just doesn’t do it for me somehow!

    • “Why does everybody keep telling me this?!?” [laughs] Honestly, I don’t mind the color. I mostly play with my eyes closed. 😉

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