Bebop Arpeggios

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    Getting Chromatic: Bebop Arpeggios for GuitarOne of the questions that I often get asked by students in lessons and workshops is, I

    know all my arpeggios and can outline chord changes, but how do sound like jazz? Inresponse to this question Ive started teaching a workshop titled Instant Jazz: Bebop

    Arpeggios for Guitar.

    Since not everyone can make it to one of my Bebop Arpeggiosfor Guitar workshops in

    person, I decided to put the basics concepts of the class in an article for everyone to


    If you want to check out how to add chromatic notesto scales check out my lessontitled Bebop Scale Patterns for Guitar.

    The basic premise behind these Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar is built around the notes of

    any chord, the arpeggio, which many peoplealready know and have under their


    If you are a bit shaky on yourjazz guitar arpeggio fingeringsyou can still work

    MATT WARNOCK GUITARYour Online Guide to Playing Better Jazz Guitar

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    through this lesson, but you might also want to visit my Arpeggio pagetolearn more

    about these fundamental musical building blocks.

    Each example is based around adding one, two or three notes to ajazz guitar

    arpeggio shape, in this case C7.

    Take your time with learning each Bebop Arpeggiosfor Guitar pattern.

    Get them under your fingers, improvise with them, internalize the soundin your ears

    and apply it to other keys, chord progressions and tunes that you are working on in your

    jazz guitar practice routine.

    Youll be sounding like a Bebop proin no time!

    Got a question or comment about this lesson? Visit the Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar

    thread at the MWG Forum.

    Here is the basic fingering for the C7 arpeggio that well use to build our chromatic,

    Bebop lines.

    Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar 1: C7 Arpeggio
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    Well now add our first Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar pattern to this fingering.

    In this case, well play one chromatic note be loweach note in the arpeggio.

    So, the C7 arpeggio has four notes, C-E-G-Bb, and well add one note before all of

    these to produce, BC-D#E-F#G-ABb.

    Hear how the arpeggio is now sounding more jazzy just by adding one note before

    each chord tone?

    Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar 2: 1 Note Below

    In this example well do the opposite approach, same idea but with one note above

    each chord tone.

    This one tends to sound a little evil, and most of my students with a background in
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    80s Metal seem to prefer this one over all the other variations.

    Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar 3: 1 Note Above

    Here is one of the mostwell-used and important concepts in jazz improvisation,


    Here, we add one note above and one note below each chord tone .

    If you want to practice this example further, try playing one note belowand then one

    note above each chord tone.

    This sound is a favorite of guys like Joe Pass, Pat Martino and George Bensonto

    name a few.

    Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar 4: Enclosure
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    Well now do the same exercise as Example 1, though with two notes below each chord

    tone to add an extra dose of chromaticismto our playing.

    Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar 5: 2 Notes Below

    And again, well reverse it so we now have two notes above each chord tone.
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    Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar 6: 2 Notes Above

    The last two examples will mix one and two note chromatic approaches, first with one

    note above and then two notes below each chord tone.

    Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar 7: 1 Above and 2 Below
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    Finally, two notes above and two notes below each note on the C7 arpeggio.

    Try mixing these last two up so that you start with the notes below each chord tone, then

    the note(s) above to add another idea to your Bebop bag of tricks.

    Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar 8: 2 Above and 1 Below

    The key to learning any of these Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar, or any jazz concept, is to

    apply it to a tune and improvisation right away.

    What I like to do is learn one idea, say one note below each chord tone, as in Example 1,

    and then once I have the fingering down on the guitar, I start to solo on the C7 chordusing just that technique in my playing, usually with a static C7 play-along so I can get

    the sound of the chromatic notes against the harmonyinto my ears.

    This way, you are not only learning a new fingering and chromatic idea, but you are

    training your earsand brain to understand and become comfortable with these new

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    After you can do this on one chord, take it to other keys, other chords, and then finally

    into chord progressionsand tunes that youre working on in your practice routine.

    Do you have a way that you like to practice or solo with Bebop Arpeggios for Guitar?

    If so, please share it in the comment section below.


    1. Guy Boden, June 7, 2011:

    I always like to hear the chord tones fall on the down beats not the off beats.


    2. Matt Warnock, June 7, 2011:

    Guy: Yeah its a bit tricky to get the sound of the chromatic notes on the

    downbeats in your ears, I used to only practice them on off beats, then I did a few

    Pat Martino transcriptions and all the licks I loved were ones with the odd notes on

    the downbeats, so that converted me to check out that sound more.


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    3. Leandro Martins, June 8, 2011:

    Amazing article!!

    4. John Horne, June 13, 2011:

    Great series of articles going on here. I will post a link from my blog soon!

    5. Matt Warnock, June 13, 2011:

    Thanks John, more to come!

    6. rick bourne, July 20, 2011:

    great lesson

    7. rick bourne, July 20, 2011:

    what is really great is the music notation with the correct fingering,i seem to grasp

    it easier

    8. Matt Warnock, July 20, 2011:

    thanks Rick, glad you dug the lesson!

    9. John, August 18, 2011:

    Great stuff!

    This is how you build walking bass lines as well, right?

    10. Matt Warnock, August 18, 2011:

    Kind of, it is true that basslines use a lot of chord tones from arpeggios and

    chromatic notes to get to those chord tones, but there are other ways as well.

    Using that method is definitely a great way to start building basslines.

    Try this exercise:

    Play the root on the 1st beat of each bar[email protected]/http://[email protected]/
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    Play a different chord tone on the 3rd beat of each bar

    Arrive at each of those notes from a half step above or a half step below

    That will get you started in creating jazzy sounding basslines

    11. Aniss, December 15, 2011:

    Hi, just wondering about the fingering on these exercises? Been trying some

    different ones and they all feel weird. So Id like to know what works best for you

    and Ill take it from there?

    Great site by the way ;)

    12. Matt Warnock, December 15, 2011:

    Thanks Aniss, I like to use the fingerings on this page

    But if they feel weird you can use any fingering that you like, the key is just adding

    in the extra note to get the chromatic sound, the fingering is not that important, as

    long as its one that works well for you.

    13. Aniss, December 15, 2011:

    Thanks for the reply :) But you misunderstood me. I know my scales and

    arpeggios in many positions. But I dont know how to put my fingers in order to do

    the ENCLOSURE. No matter how I do it it feels complely wrong so I would like to

    see the actual fingering others use to do that. With slides or how?

    14. Matt Warnock, December 15, 2011:

    Ah, got it. Here is what i do for each finger.

    If i play a note with my first finger i do the enclosure with 2-1-1 , for the second

    finger i use 3-1-2, for the third finger i use 3-2-3 and for the fourth i use 4-3-4.
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    Hope that helps!

    15. Aniss, December 16, 2011:

    Yup! That helped a lot ;) Cheers..

    16. Mamalov, January 17, 2012:

    Thanx a lot mate.

    Ive been studying you for a while now!Great stuff.

    17. Matthew Warnock, January 17, 2012:

    Thanks, I appreciate you checking out my site!

    18. Edward, May 12, 2012:

    Im new here. I would like to say that there is alot of information on your site


    Im enjoying my stay here.

    Thanks alot for your time and effort.


    19. Guy, October 31, 2012:

    Matt, after nearly a year of transcribing various licks etc. Ive got to thank you for

    your advice. The chord chord tones are played by many great players on the off


    Thanks again


    20. Matthew Warnock, October 31, 2012:
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    thanks Edward, glad you dig the site!

    21. Matthew Warnock, October 31, 2012:

    thanks great, glad it worked out for ya!

    22. David, June 16, 2013:

    This is a great lesson, Matt, as is everything Ive seen on your site.

    It seems as if there are two viewpoints here, but I dont think there is really any

    conflict. Every chord tone has two dissonant (tension-producing) neighbor tones

    one above, one below. Of the three tones (chord tone and two neighbors), the

    chord tone has the least tension, so its more interesting to stress a neighbor tone

    either by placing it on the beat OR by accenting it on the offbeat.

    Oddly enough, I learned this in classical guitar studies. When Id get to a cadence,

    my teachers would always tell me to stress the dissonant notes, not the notes they

    melt into when the tension resolves. Dissonant tones have more movement

    because theyre loaded with implications (they amp up our expectations), and

    implications are more interesting than their realization. When someone is ABOUT

    to sneeze, its more interesting than when they DO sneeze.

    Sometimes the tension (about-to-sneeze) notes fell on the final beat of a measure

    and the notes of resolution (sneeze notes) fell on the downbeat of the next

    measure, which meant you should disregard the bar line and stress the weak beatjust before the downbeat and underplay the downbeat in order to wring the most

    emotion from the cadence.

    In other words, the lesson I learned is that its tastier to bring out the tension

    notes, whether they fall on the beat or off the beat. If theyre on the beat, they

    naturally get an accent. If theyre not on the beat, you might want to make
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    selected notes among them pop now and then. If theyre just passing tones

    (adjacent scale tones), then they usually dont need to be brought out, but

    tension tones that you reach by a leap are good candidates.

    I think thats as true in jazz as it is in classical music.

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