What Are Arpeggios?

Arpeggios are often misunderstood in the guitar realm. They are simply the notes of a chord played in succession, rather than at the same time (because that would make it a chord). For example, a C Major chord is made up of three notes: C E and G. If these notes are played all at once, then it’s a chord. If they’re played one at a time, then it’s an arpeggio.

Arpeggios can be played many ways. They can be picked on one string, several strings, tapped, hammered on, pulled off, swept and even played while holding a chord shape. Sweeping is often confused with arpeggios. Guitarists are always thinking that to play an arpeggio is to start sweeping, but this isn’t true. Sweeping is simply one of many techniques used to play arpeggios. It just so happens that when you sweep something on the guitar, it will almost always be an arpeggio of some sort.

Below is an example of an arpeggio being played using a sweeping technique.

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