5 Ways To Make Guitar Arpeggios Sound Awesome (Even If You Can’t Play Fast Yet)

You can make any arpeggio sound a lot cooler without playing fast. Use simple creativity concepts to transform sweep picking exercises into music.

This video shows how to create killer arpeggio guitar licks:

Use these 5 ideas to make your arpeggios sound killer:

1. Create A Break In The Pattern In Your Arpeggio Licks

Playing arpeggios ascending and descending all the time gets boring very quickly. Separating ascending and descending parts of the arpeggio makes it easy to create new sweep picking licks. Each lick can be played as the ascending part of the arpeggio repeated over and over (or descending part of the arpeggio repeated over and over). This is a bit harder to play physically, but adds cool variety to your arpeggio playing. (It also helps you improve your sweep picking technique.)

For example, instead of always playing this:

A minor sweep picking arpeggio

…play just the descending part of the arpeggio, like this:

A minor sweep picking arpeggio

…or just the ascending part, like this:

A minor sweep picking arpeggio

Watch the video starting at 0:33 to hear how cool this sounds.

Use both variations in your arpeggio licks. Overusing any one idea makes your arpeggios sound boring.

How To Play Awesome Sweep Picking Arpeggios  

2. Extend & Harmonize Arpeggios Using Inversions

You can repeat the same arpeggio many times without boring your listeners, by:

  • Extending the arpeggio using inversions
  • Using inversions to harmonize the arpeggio

To extend an arpeggio using inversions, you must have strong fretboard visualization skills. Take an A minor arpeggio (notes A C E) and find its notes all over the fretboard.


Sweep picking arpeggio inversions


Sweep picking arpeggio inversion example


Sweep picking arpeggio inversion tab

Hear It

This tab shows an A minor arpeggio played in every inversion on the guitar.

To harmonize arpeggio inversions, record each inversion separately and superimpose them on top of each other. (You can play the inversions in any order.)

Watch the video starting from 1:52 to hear an example of this.

Tip: harmonizing several different arpeggios makes this idea sound even cooler. (You hear this in the video at 1:52).

This free sweep picking guide gives you 25 more ways to use arpeggios creatively in your guitar playing.

Work with a guitar teacher to apply this concept into your guitar playing.  

3. Build Excitement By Using Unexpected Silence In Your Arpeggios

Unexpected silence in the middle of a fast arpeggio builds massive tension and that tension creates a lot of excitement. So instead of playing an arpeggio up and down, like this:

Sweep picking diminished chord arpeggio

…insert rests at various moments, like this:

Sweep picking diminished chord arpeggio

This makes the arpeggio easier to play and your faster playing sounds even more intense.

This sweep picking video shows how awesome this idea sounds.

Note: Change where the silence is used and how long it lasts. Don’t stop on the same note of the arpeggio every time. This keeps your sweep picking licks from becoming repetitive and boring.

4. Vary The Number Of Strings In Each Arpeggio Shapes

Combine 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 string arpeggio shapes to play your sweep picking guitar licks. This adds variety to your playing by changing the musical texture and builds tension.

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Practice this exercise:

Step 1: Think of 4 different arpeggios to play one after the other. For example:

A minor
D major
B major
E major

Step 2: Play each arpeggio using a different number of strings and a different inversion for each pattern. For example:

A minor 2nd inversion (3 string pattern)
D major root position (4 string pattern)
B major 2nd inversion (5 string pattern)
E major root position (4 string pattern)

Step 3: Create 3-5 different variations for these arpeggios, varying the number of strings (and inversion types) used.

5. Integrate Ideas Together

Variety is key to playing creative arpeggio guitar licks. Using any one idea too often sounds boring (no matter how cool it is). Take any sweep picking lick and create variations from it, applying all the ideas you learned in this article.

This sweep picking eGuide shows you 25 more ways to make your arpeggios sound awesome (it’s free). Get it now.

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