Minor Arpeggios

Let’s keep building up our theory and freeboard knowledge and turn our attention to minor arpeggios. We know from our study of minor triads that there’s only a difference of one note between major and minor: the third. Since arpeggios are just extensions of triads, we just build our collection of triads up into full-fledged arpeggios.

Let’s start in the key of G, but this time we’ll walk through the minor arpeggios. Beginning at the 1st fret we can start with these shapes:

G minor arpeggios in the first position

The opening triad is a pretty good stretch for your fretting hand, particularly down this low on the neck. The notes on the 5th string need to be fretted with your first and fourth fingers, but which finger you use for the first note on the 6th string is up to you. Some players have a bigger stretch between their first and second fingers so they'll use their second finger for the opening note. If you can stretch further with your third and fourth fingers you can lead with your third finger instead.

Here’s one way to pick and finger this arpeggio shape:

Fingering and picking G minor at first position

The next pattern is a little more compact and maps really nicely to a standard minor barre chord:

G minor arpeggios in the third position

The ♭3, 5 and root on the top three strings of this shape offer an interesting sweep-picking challenge. If you want to sweep-pick this, you'll need to "roll" the first finger of your fretting hand. Don’t just lay your finger across like a big dead slug!

Here’s the tablature version of playing this shape up-and-back with fingering and picking designations:

Fingering and picking G minor arpeggio at the third position

Moving up the neck we get to these shapes at the seventh position:

G minor arpeggios at the seventh position

This arpeggio shape is a tricky one because of the ♭3, 5 and root on the fourth, third and second strings. If you play this in a straight up-and-back manner, one fretting solution would be this:

Fingering and pick G minor arpeggio at the seventh position

Let’s keep climbing up the neck to the tenth fret with this shape:

G minor arpeggio at the tenth position

This shape is similar to the second shape we looked at, but the root is on the fifth string instead of the sixth string. This arpeggio shape maps pretty directly to a minor barre chord rooted on the fifth string.

Here’s some tablature showing one way you could pick and finger this shape when playing straight up-and-back:

Picking and fingering G minor arpeggio at the tenth position

Our last shape is rooted at the twelfth position:

G minor arpeggios at the twelfth position

The top three notes of this arpeggio is that same three-note barre we saw in the first and second patterns which means you'll have to do the same “finger-roll” maneuver we saw earlier. This one will be a little trickier since you’re most likely to play this with your fourth finger, which for most player is the weakest finger on the their fretting hand (including mine.)

Fingering and picking details for G minor arpeggio at the twelfth position.

At this point you simply keep repeating the cycle of shapes as you move further up the neck.

Once you get the basic shapes down, start playing around different variations. Nothing says “I’m going to bust an arpeggio out on y’all” like running one straight up and down. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever play them that way, but variation is the spice of music as well as life. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Until next time, keep rocking!