Arpeggios are a great way to outline chord changes in jazz guitar. But let’s be honest, memorizing arpeggios on the guitar isn’t the easiest thing to do. Fortunately, 2 note per string patterns makes the task quite a bit easier. In this video we’ll go through the various patterns of 2 note per string arpeggios over the 4 primary chord qualities in a major key (major 7th, dominant 7th, minor 7th and half diminished 7th). We’ll then apply this concept to the jazz standard Autumn Leaves, both with root position patterns as well as voice lead patterns (More on that to come).

*Download a pdf version of the sheet music*

2 note per string arpeggio patterns

Traditional arpeggios patterns are confusing because each string yields a different combination of notes. The simplicity of 2 note per string patterns is that the shape repeats itself every two strings. For example Root – 3rd, 5th -7th, Root -3rd, 5th – 7th, and so on. (See example below)



Outlining Chord Changes using 2 note per string arpeggios

Let’s apply these patterns to the first 8 bars of Autumn Leaves. Notice each pattern starts on the root of its respective chord, always beginning on the E string.

Voice leading 2 note per string arpeggios

The above example is great because of the simplicity inherent to these patterns. However, we are jumping around quite a bit, which is both technically challenging as well as it will create disjointed melodies by always starting on the root. What we can do is voice lead, or move only as far as necessary to reach the next chord in the pattern. To do this, we’ll alternate starting on either the root or the 5th of each pattern. See below:

*Note: Alternatively you could begin on either the 3rd or 7th of each chord. You’ll still end up with 2 note per string patterns, however the shapes will look a little different. See if you can work it out!

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