3 string minor arpeggios and inversions

Note: This article assumes you’ve got a grasp of basic major and minor chord construction. If not, check out basic chord construction. I’ve also written an article on major arpeggios that might be helpful.

If you’re trying to make your solos sound more interesting, break free of scale runs, complement chords and choose ideal notes for your solos, arpeggios and their inversions are a great place to start.

An arpeggio is a chord played note for note. In other words, if you strum an open A minor chord once, letting all the strings ring out and all the notes ring into one another, that is NOT an arpeggio.

However, if you play the notes of the A minor chord, one note at a time – that’s an arpeggio.


Chord and arpeggio inversions might sound tricky, but they’re actually very simple. A chord or arpeggio inversion occurs when the root note is not the lowest note.

Using the example below (three-string A minor arpeggios in 1st inversion, 2nd inversion, and root position), you can see that:
• in the root position, the note A (14th fret) is the lowest note;
• in the first inversion the note C (5th fret) is the lowest note; and
• in the second inversion the note E (9th fret) is the lowest note.


Note: Even though the lowest note changes, the arpeggio is still A minor – because the notes still make up an A minor chord.

To hear the magic, try sweep picking though these patterns over your favourite A minor chord. If you're not familiar with the sweep picking technique, check out my introduction to sweep picking.

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