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Arpeggios and Fingerstyle Guitar

Page 97 Learning the Folk Guitar

An Arpeggio is a right hand style where the chords are played one note (string) at a time. The term comes from the Italian word for harp, "arpa". Playing an arpeggio on the guitar will give the effect of a harp. In folk music arpeggios are also, referred to as "fingerstyle" or "fingerpicking" guitar.

Before we play an arpeggio, let's get used to playing the strings with the tips of our fingers and thumb of the right hand by playing a thumb / pluck pattern.

It is best to use a combination of fingertips and finger nails.

Thumb / Pluck Pattern

The Thumb / Pluck Pattern

Form a D major chord.

  1. Place your right thumb ( T ) on the 4th string. Do not strike the string yet.
  1. Place your index finger ( I ) on the 3rd string.

  1. Now, place your middle finger ( M ) on the 2nd string.

  1. Finally, place your ring finger ( R ) on the 1st string. Hold your fingers on the strings in this position until it feels comfortable.

  1. With your right thumb, strike the 4th string. Now, using a combination of the tips and the nails, pluck up on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd strings simultaneously with the I - M - R fingers.

Repeat the pattern until it feels natural.

Listen    "Thumb Pluck Pattern"

The Basic Arpeggio

  1. Strike the 4th string with

  2. the right thumb ( T ). This is Beat 1.

  1. Pluck the 3rd string with the index ( I ) finger. This is Beat 2.

  1. Pluck the 2nd string with the middle ( M ) finger. This is Beat 3.

  1. Pluck the 1st string with the ring ( R ) finger. This is Beat 4.

The Basic Arpeggio

Listen    "Arpeggio in D"

Repeat this pattern until it sounds smooth. Switch the thumb (T) over to the 5th string for an alternating bass pattern.

When you feel comfortable with the arpeggio, try changing to an A7th chord. Remember, only the thumb will change when changing chords. The I, M, R, fingers remain on their respective strings.

Listen    "Arpeggio in A7th"

Keep repeating this right hand style until it feels natural. Count 1..2..3..4 - 1..2..3..4

The arpeggio described above is played in D major in 4/4 time. In tablature form it looks like this.

T = Thumb, I = Index, M = Middle, R = Ring fingers.

Arpeggio in Tablature

Listen    "Arpeggio in D"

For an additional fingerstyle guitar lesson CLICK HERE

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Learning the Folk Guitar

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