Using arpeggios as lead-ins to your guitar solos
A lead-in phrase is a sequence of notes that flows into a larger soloing phrase. It introduces
the regular soloing phrase by... leading in to it. In this case, we're going to try using simple arpeggios as lead-in phrases, which can then be followed by a larger solo in that same key/scale. This is a very common way of using arpeggios, which you can draw from when you feel.
Let's look at a couple of examples:
If we were playing a solo from the major scale, we could lead in to a phrase in that solo by playing a major arpeggio in that same key, from that same major scale. For example...
By using that major arpeggio from the mid-top part of the boxed major scale shape (which you should know from part 1!), we are able to lead in nicely to a fuller solo from that major scale pattern (and beyond!).
The major arpeggio, consisting of those key major chord tones - root
, sets the scene for a larger major expression.
This is why it's useful to know what tones make up chords
, because...Where there's a chord, there's an arpeggio!
There's also the matter of what rhythm you use to apply that lead-in, but we'll look at lead rhythm another time! Too much to cover in a single lesson.
We could also lead-out or resolve
a soloing phrase nicely using a downward
The lead-in/out can be as long or short as you like. They can often involve a quick sweep pick (more on this technique another time!).
Remember, there are also minor
lead-ins. If you're leading into a minor scale solo (e.g. Dorian, Aeolian, minor pentatonic etc.) then it's just a case of finding an appropriate minor triad pattern. For example: Minor triad: Root
- minor 3rd
Ok, let's now look at some other ways to incorporate arpeggios into your guitar solos.More advanced guitar arpeggio techniques
Just as with chord inversions, where you mix up the order of chord tones from low to high (e.g. the lowest note in the chord is no longer the root note, but the 5th, 3rd or other), we can also apply this to arpeggios.
e.g. rather than playing the regular major triad as:R 3 5
Play it as:5 R 3
...from low to high. Again, if you know your scales, you'll know how to form sequences like this one, just as you would a chord.Highlighting chord changes with arpeggios
During a chord progression, your solo often has to work with several chord changes. We can use arpeggios to highlight particular chord changes (especially unusual ones) and put them into context.
For example, take a listen to the chord progression below:Bm
| D7sus4 | Gadd9 | F#aug7 -
click to hear >
So Bm (B minor)
and F# (F sharp major)
are the chords I'm going to highlight with B minor and F# major arpeggios respectively. Of course, it's down to your personal judgement which chords you choose to highlight with arpeggios. This is just an example! The arpeggios are highlighted in red
Click here for an audio example >
Hear the lead guitar alone >
Notice how, during the solo, I get into position
ready for the arpeggios each time. This is why knowing your scale tones across the fretboard is important. The regular soloing flows out of and into the arpeggios seamlessly.
Notice also how the final arpeggio (over F#7aug) builds up to that resolution of returning back to B minor in the progression.Arpeggio runs
There'll be a separate lesson on runs as a soloing technique, but for now, you can try and apply "staggered" patterns to your arpeggio sequences. For example, instead of just playing the arpeggio from low to high (e.g. R, 3, 5, R, 3, 5, R... etc.), you can take 4 tones forward and 2 back, 4 more forward, 2 back etc.
Starting with a simple step pattern using a C# major 7th arpeggio (similar to a regular major arpeggio with an added 7th from the major scale: R
Remember, the key we're doing these particular exercises in isn't important, as the patterns and shapes we use are movable
. So if we wanted the above to be in the key of D
, we'd simply align those root note positions with... D
! Again, if you know your scales, you'll know where you can move
Let's take a look at a wider run, using a B minor arpeggio
Now, the fingering for this kind of playing requires a lot of practice, so don't expect to be able to play at a blistering speed right off the bat!Break it down into sections
(what the vertical lines are for) Use a metronome to start slow and speed up gradually as you get more physically comfortable with the finger movements.Tip:
Once you're up to speed, try ending that run above by sliiiiiding the high E string up to fret 19 (which is the note B - the root
and key of the arpeggio!). See if you can end the quick slide accurately at that 19th fret.