One of the big struggles that many guitarists face when first learning jazz guitar arpeggios, is that they learn large shapes (usually two octaves), which can be hard to connect when applied to a soloing situation. While two-octave shapes are essential learning, there is an easier way to get started with arpeggios.
This approach involves learning one-octave shapes for each arpeggio, and then placing them in one position on the fretboard when applied to a jazz chord progression, which will be the focus of this lesson.
Learning smaller, one-octave, shapes, and then working them out on a single position over chord changes will allow you to quickly and easily move between shapes, without any shifting, in your jazz guitar solos.
Easy Jazz Arpeggios – Position 1
The examples in this lesson are all in the key of C major, so start by learning these shapes in that key before moving them to other keys on the fretboard.
As well, once you can play these shapes from memory, put on a ii-V-I-VI backing track and solo over those changes using the shapes from this lesson to create your lines. Here is a Dm7-G7-Cmaj7-A7b9 backing track that you can use in your practice sessions.
Listen & Play
Here is the first position for the easy jazz arpeggio fingerings, starting with the Dm7 shape on the 6th string and moving to the other chords in that same position from that starting shape.
Notice that you can play all four arpeggios, meaning you can now solo over all four of those chords, without moving your hand – you are staying in one position on the fretboard the whole time.
To help you take these shapes to a musical situation, here is a sample lick that you can learn that uses these four shapes in its construction.
Easy Jazz Arpeggios – Position 2
Moving on, let’s take the easy arpeggio approach to a new position, this time playing the Dm7 arpeggio from the 5th-string root note, with the rest of the arpeggios being in that one position from there.
Again, here is a sample lick that you can practice to help you take these shapes from a technical to an improvisational standpoint in your practice routine.
Easy Jazz Arpeggios – Position 3
The final easy jazz arpeggio position begins with the Dm7 arpeggio on the 4th string root, with the rest of the changes played in that same position.
Lastly, here is a sample lick that you can learn which demonstrates the arpeggios in this position over the ii-V-I-VI chord progression.
Once you have learned this lick, and the other two in this lesson, try writing out a few licks of your own to see and hear how these shapes sound over the chords before you being improvising with them over a backing track.
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