Common-Tone Diminished 7th Arpeggios – Arpeggios On Guitar

by Tom Hess
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You’re about to learn a new way of playing arpeggio guitar licks that makes you sound very advanced.

(And that will happen even if you don't have advanced lead guitar technique yet.)

What is this ‘way’ and what are these arpeggio guitar licks?

I'm talking about common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios. 

These guitar arpeggios build a lot of musical tension.

(Which means they sound great at any speed – fast and slow.) 

And the best part?

Most guitar players don’t use common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios.

(Even though it’s very simple to play these arpeggios on guitar, as you will soon see.)

This means...

... you’ll impress all your friends (and your even many pros!) with your guitar arpeggio licks.

And you'll do this without having to practice a lot.

start building lightning fast guitar picking speed
How To Build Lightning Fast Guitar Picking Speed e-Book
FREE Ebook

By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Tom Hess Music Corporation who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.

Ready to begin having fun with common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios? 

Watch the arpeggio guitar licks video below to get started:

Now that you know the basics of playing common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios, here are a few more tips for playing awesome arpeggio guitar licks and sharpening your lead guitar technique:

Common-Tone Diminished 7th Arpeggios Tip #1: Study Music Theory.

“What does music theory have to do with lead guitar technique or playing arpeggio guitar licks”, you ask?

Answer: the more you understand about how arpeggios work in music, the more creative you can be with your lead guitar technique and the cooler arpeggio guitar licks you’ll come up with.

This includes – creating guitar solos, writing guitar riffs (and songs), breaking out of songwriting ruts and even learning other people’s songs faster.

Remove Songwriting Block

Question: “But Tom Hess, music theory is so boring! I just want to play guitar (and cool arpeggio guitar licks like the common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios). I don’t want to study a bunch of rules!”

Answer: Music theory is not a set of ‘rules’... it’s a set of doors. These doors opens up your musical creativity and allow you to use your skills (such as your lead guitar technique, guitar arpeggio knowledge and mastery of common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios) in fun ways.

Watch this video to see all the ways music theory helps you as a guitar player:

Question: “Tom Hess, how can studying music theory help with learning other people’s songs?”

Answer: Simple: when you understand ‘why’ a part of your favorite song sounds as cool as it does (which music theory explains), you have an easier time learning and memorizing it. That’s because you become able to process music in larger chunks. (Vs. Only thinking from ‘note to note’.) This is one of the ways a guitarist like John Petrucci is able to memorize epic Dream Theater songs and play them live.

The best tip for studying music theory (especially when it comes to playing guitar arpeggio licks) is to not study “music theory” in a vacuum. When you learn a music theory concept (such as common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios) ...

... you need to visualize those guitar arpeggio shapes on the fretboard and hear how they sound in your mind.

By integrating your music theory knowledge with your other skills, you become better able to use your lead guitar technique to play awesome arpeggios on guitar.

Common-Tone Diminished 7th Arpeggios Tip #2: Practice String Skipping.

One of my pet peeves is hearing guitar players (and even guitar teachers!) use the terms “guitar arpeggios”, “arpeggios on guitar” and “arpeggio guitar licks” interchangeably with “sweep picking”, as if they all mean the same thing. They don't. Not even close.

Sweep picking is a lead guitar technique you use on (some) string changes. An arpeggio means: notes of a chord played separately.

You can use sweep picking to ‘play’ arpeggios on guitar (such as the common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios I showed you in the video above). 

But you can also play arpeggio guitar licks (including common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios) using any other lead guitar technique. Everything from string bends (or slides) on a single string, to sweep tapping, to legato, to string skipping. 

And of all the possible techniques you can use to play arpeggio guitar licks...

... string skipping lead guitar technique is especially useful for playing common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios. 

Here are the most important things to know about practicing the lead guitar technique of string skipping.

Question: “Tom Hess, when I try to play common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios on guitar, my fretting hand can’t make the stretch. Any tips?”

Answer: The issue is almost certainly NOT that “your fretting hand can’t reach the notes of common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios” (or any other arpeggio guitar licks). Your fretting hand thumb position is almost certainly to blame. 

If your thumb is wrapped around the fretboard, your lead guitar technique becomes compromised and stretching becomes impossible. And playing arpeggio guitar licks (such as common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios) feels very hard.

But when you slide the thumb down (towards the high E string), you suddenly get a lot more reach and become able to play guitar licks that once seemed unplayable.

Watch this video to see what I mean:

Question: “Tom Hess, what about string bends and vibrato? Doesn't the thumb have to come up over the top of the neck when doing these techniques?”

Answer: Yes, it does. When you bend strings (or do vibrato), the web between your thumb and index finger should be pressed against the back of the guitar neck. And the index finger is the pivot point that makes it possible to do smooth vibrato and string bends.

You need to practice switching between the thumb-over and thumb-behind-the-neck positions when you practice lead guitar technique (and arpeggio guitar licks). It’s not hard and doesn’t take a long time, but it is a nuance you need to focus on.

Common-Tone Diminished 7th Arpeggios Tip #3: Practice Sweep Tapping.

One of the coolest things about common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios (and diminished 7th arpeggio guitar licks in general) ... 

... is that you can extend them using the minor 3rd intervals. 

This makes these arpeggio guitar licks easy to play with the lead guitar technique of sweep tapping.

Check out this video that shows you how to use sweep tapping to play guitar arpeggios the right way:

Here are a few additional tips that will help you make your sweep tapping lead guitar technique cleaner and faster:

- Use thumb muting to mute excess string noise in your guitar arpeggio licks. When you slide your picking (tapping) hand towards the higher strings, your picking hand thumb should be in contact with the thicker strings – muting them. 

This keeps the strings from vibrating and making noise as you play arpeggios on guitar. 

Question: “Tom Hess, what about using the palm of your picking hand instead of the thumb to mute string noise when playing arpeggios on guitar? Is that allowed?”

Answer: You can do anything you want, but thumb muting is the superior lead guitar technique. The thumb can stay on the strings better than the palm can and the thumb can mute strings far more securely. 

- make your legato lead guitar technique articulate. Even with legato (and sweep tapping) lead guitar techniques, you want to make the notes pop and be clear. This legato lead guitar technique lesson will show you how.

Pro tip: the better you can clean up string noise in your lead guitar technique, the more powerful your articulation becomes. 

- make sure your sweep tapping guitar arpeggios are in time. This applies to your arpeggio guitar licks (such as common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios) in 2 ways:

1. Line up the first note of every beat with the click. This makes it much easier to keep the other notes in time with the beat.

2. Make sure the pull offs (and hammer ons) that happen in some arpeggios on guitar are played just as fast as the other notes – not any faster.

This video on how to practice arpeggios on guitar explains the above lead guitar technique mistake in more detail:

Another pro tip: do NOT play arpeggio guitar licks that are ‘supposed to’ be played in sixteenth notes or triplets (4 notes or 3 notes per click) as quarter notes (1 note per click). This makes it harder to play with good timing. (Plus: as you get faster, you won’t be able to set the metronome to click enough times per minute to keep up with your lead guitar technique.)

Common-Tone Diminished 7th Arpeggios Tip #4: Find Creative Ways To Play Standard Arpeggio Guitar Licks.

As cool as common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios are... like all arpeggio guitar licks, they can start to sound boring if you play them all in the same way (up and down, with no variations).

Fortunately, creating variations can be quite simple (and you don’t need to play arpeggios on guitar at lightning speed in order to do it). Check out this arpeggio guitar licks video to get a lot of ideas on how to master this aspect of your lead guitar technique:

Question: “Tom Hess, is it better to practice arpeggio guitar licks (such as the common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios) with distortion or with a clean sound?”

Answer: Use distortion most of the time when you practice common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios (and other arpeggio guitar licks). Distortion helps you notice excess string noise and clean up your lead guitar technique. 

Unlike some people say, distortion definitely does NOT “hide mistakes”. Instead, it often amplifies mistakes. This happens when you let 2 or more notes bleed (ring) together or have open strings ringing out creating noise when you play arpeggios on guitar. 

That said, playing arpeggio guitar licks with a clean tone also has its place... especially when you want to focus on articulation in your lead guitar technique. So, it’s ok to practice both ways when working on your common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios.

Common-Tone Diminished 7th Arpeggios Tip #5: Practice Arpeggio Guitar Licks Using Speed Bursts To Build Speed.

Speed bursts are – quite possibly – the fastest way to break through lead guitar technique (and guitar speed) plateaus. And they can help you build speed arpeggios on guitar like few things can. 

Here is why:

Speed bursts help improve your arpeggio guitar licks without doing much (or any) slow guitar practice.

And no, I don’t mean to say that slow guitar practice is bad.

But slow guitar practice does have its problems.

For one thing: slow guitar practice is pretty boring when all you want to do is play arpeggios on guitar fast.

(This can destroy your motivation to practice even the coolest arpeggio guitar licks.)

Secondly: many mistakes only happen when you start to play guitar fast. And when you do slow guitar practice, they disappear.

That means much of your guitar practice time ends up wasted. And your lead guitar technique doesn't improve. 


Speed bursts.

With speed bursts, you get to focus on the exact obstacles to your guitar speed and fix them quickly.

Best part? When you practice with speed bursts, you can use guitar speed exercises that are useful in real-life playing.

Watch this guitar speed video to see lots of cool examples of speed bursts that can help you build your own awesome arpeggio guitar licks:

Now you know how to play common-tone diminished 7th arpeggios on guitar. And if you want to also improve your picking speed, I can show you how I my free eGuide called: “How To Build Lightning Fast Guitar Picking Speed”. Download it today, so you can develop incredible picking speed, even if you’ve struggled to do so in the past and don't have a lot of time to practice. 

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Tom Hess
About Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He trains musicians how to leave their day jobs and build successful full-time careers in the music industry.

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