Using Arpeggios to Visualize the Guitar Fretboard

There are many ways to see the structure and layout of the guitar fretboard. It is possible to see how the structures interconnect more if we look at it. This lesson will show you how to expand your understanding of arpeggio shapes so that you can visualize the guitar fretboard.

While the focus will be on minor and major arpeggios here, the concepts can also be applied to other arpeggios. You should first review the lesson on major and minor arpeggios to learn what an arpeggio actually is. Then, come back to this lesson.

CAGED Guitar Arpeggios

The CAGED arpeggio patterns are a familiar choice if you are already familiar with arpeggio forms and patterns. These arpeggio shapes are probably the most popular.

CAGED arpeggios can be broken down into five patterns that correspond to CAGED chord shapes. These arpeggio shapes are best learned in a vertical manner. Start with the lowest root note, then play up and down across the fretboard until you reach the root where you began.

Diagonal Arpeggios

Because it organizes the notes into distinct shapes, and patterns, the CAGED system makes learning arpeggios easy. This makes it easier to learn. These shapes and notes are connected to the entire fretboard.

This shows us that we don’t have to move vertically across fretboards. You can combine horizontal and vertical movements to create diagonal arpeggios.

We can make the fretboard more cohesive by moving diagonally through these arpeggios. This allows us to see it as a whole and not just individual patterns. You can start from different positions and vary the pace of the run. Through the arpeggios, you can combine ascending and descender movements.

These exercises are easy if you can visualize the CAGED patterns while running. You can call out the CAGED shapes as you go through the run to help you understand the connection. You can practice both the major and minor arpeggios.

Triad Arpeggios

Triads are the basis of chords and arpeggios. We can also explore arpeggios by using triad shapes on the fretboard. Triads are a way to break down complex arpeggio patterns into 3-note variations that can be easier to integrate musically.

The 3-strings approach is my favorite way to visualize these triads.

These examples are for G major, G minor keys but they can be used to any key.

Triad String Arpeggios 1-2-3

It refers to the three distinct arpeggio shapes of the minor and major triad arpeggios that appear on strings 1 and 2. These shapes can be repeated up and down the fretboard (e.g. If you continue to the fretboard, you will get shape 1 again after you have completed the third shape.

Triad arpeggios on Strings 2-3-4

The same can be done with strings 2, 3 and 4.

Triad arpeggios on Strings 34-5

Here are the triad arpeggios of strings 3, 4 and 5.

Triad String Arpeggios 4-5-6

Although not as popular as the other groups, the triad chords on strings 4 and 5 can be used in arpeggios.

Applying Arpeggios to Harmonized Scales

When we’re talking about harmonizing scales, we’re referring to building up chords from the notes that are in the scale.

For example, let’s take a look at the G major scale.

The G major scale has the following notes:

G – A – B – C – D – E – F#

When you harmonize the scale, you get these chords:

G – Am – Bm – C – D – Em – F#dim

Arpeggiating the Harmonized Scale

These chords can be taken from the harmonized and used to create an arpeggio. Most of the time, when practicing arpeggios we stick to a particular arpeggio, such as G major, D minor, etc. Arpeggiating the harmonized chord gets us out of that trap and allows us to build the relationship between chords, arpeggios, and keys.

This process can be approached in many different ways. We’ll take a position and play all the arpeggios within a particular scale from it. This same principle can be applied to all positions of major scale.

Combining Arpeggio Approaches

These are three ways to visualize and play arpeggios across the whole fretboard. These three approaches should not be used in isolation, but rather combined to form a complete picture of the fretboard.

These approaches can be combined to strengthen the interconnectivity between these notes and patterns.

Let’s look at an example which combines all the above approaches.

Combined Approach Example

This example starts with G major and moves to A major in the second bar. Then it returns to G major to end up. To make it more musical, you can slide between notes on the same string.

The first bar starts with the D-shaped G arpeggio, and then moves on to the A-shaped G triad arpeggio at the 10th fret.

  • G Major – Bar 1.

The second bar moves to the minor 2nd chord in G major, A minor. The bar starts with the minor triadic arpeggio on strings 1, 2 and 3, then transitions into the G minor arpeggio to complete the bar.

  • Am – Bar 2

The third bar returns to the G major arpeggio by using the E form. It then moves diagonally backwards along the fretboard, ending with the triangular shape on strings 2, 3, 4, (9th fret for string 4, 7th fret for string 3, 8th fret for string 2).

  • G Major – Bar 3.

This is just one way to combine them all. You can experiment with different combinations to come up with new ideas. Begin with 2-chord progressions, then add chords for 3- and 4-chord progressions as you become more comfortable.


Complexity is a hallmark of the guitar fretboard. This lesson will show you how to expand your view of arpeggios so that you can create a better visualization of the guitar fretboard. You can review and expand the lessons and then practice the concepts with different chord progressions. This will help you to get a better understanding of how to apply them in a musical context.

FAQ for Arpeggios Visualize Guitar Fretboard

What is an arpeggio?

An arpeggio is a musical term that refers to the notes of a chord played one note at a time.

The word “arpeggio” comes from the Italian word “arpeggiare,” which means “to play on a harp.”

Why are arpeggios important?

It is not enough to know a few scales when improvising. While you can sound great for a while playing around with a scale in a solo, the main harmonic structure of any song is determined by its chords. As the chords change, so does the song’s harmonic quality.

If you want your solo “flow” with your song, your solo should emphasize the chord notes being played. It is important to know the notes that will sound good outside of the chord if you want to add harmonic variety and not detract from existing harmony.

What does an arpeggio look like on a guitar fretboard?

An arpeggio is a group of notes that are played one after another.

An arpeggio can be played on the guitar by playing a series of notes on the same string, but with different frets. This produces a sound that is more melodic than if you were to play the same note with different strings.

Arpeggios are often used in popular music and jazz to add variety to an otherwise repetitive melody.

How do arpeggios help guitar players?

Arpeggios are a group of notes that can be played together or separately. They can be used to create a melody or as an accompaniment.

Arpeggios are created by playing the notes in the order they appear in the chord. For example, if you were playing an arpeggio for a C major chord, you would play C-E-G-C-E-G.

The arpeggio is one of the most popular techniques guitar players use to create a melody. It is also used to provide accompaniment by strumming chords and adding rhythm with single notes.

What are the different types of arpeggios?

Arpeggios are a great way to add some flavor to your music. There are many different types of arpeggios, but we will go over the most common ones. There is the major arpeggio which usually consists of three notes – one for each chord tone, and it is usually played in a sequence (ex: C-E-G).

The minor arpeggio has two notes – one for each chord tone (ex: C-Eb) and it is usually played in a sequence. There is also the diminished arpeggio which has four notes and can be played in either a sequence or an alternating pattern (ex: C-D-F-Ab).

What are the benefits of using arpeggios to visualize the fretboard?

Arpeggios are a great way to visualize the fretboard. They show you where each note is on the guitar and how they connect to each other in a sequence.

Arpeggios are sequences of notes that follow the chord progression of a song, i.e., they go up or down step by step in intervals of thirds (e.g., C-E-G). The word ‘arpeggio’ comes from the Italian word for ‘broken chord.’

The benefits of using arpeggios to visualize the fretboard include:

1) Arpeggios help you see how chords are constructed and their relationship to one another.

2) Arpeggios help you learn scales and modes, which are groups of notes that can be used over different chords in a song or progression.

3) Arpeggios help you develop your ear, which is your ability to identify notes by sound without having to rely on written

How do I play an arpeggio on a guitar?

Arpeggios are a great way of playing melodies on the guitar. They are used in many different styles of music, including classical, jazz and rock.

An arpeggio is a chord that is broken down into a sequence of notes that are played one at a time. This can be done by playing one note at a time or by strumming all the notes at once.

It is important to know how to play an arpeggio because it will help you to get started with more advanced techniques such as sweep picking and tapping.

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