I've been playing my acoustic guitar for three years now and I have been told that I play good. I composed a few instrumentals and they have been quite appreciated. But its not good enough. I can play but not of the level where every note is clear and my fingers are not as responsive. I have seen (youtube obviously) many finger practice workouts (spider, chromatic scales...) etc but IMO they are useless.

I think if I learn arpeggios on a scale, I can learn control and music as well. Can someone point me to some beginner to intermediate (or whatever you'd call a 3 year old) arpeggios that I can learn? Specifically in G Lydian, for personal reasons, if possible?

EDIT I play with a pick. My problem actually is, I have not much finger independence. After a tempo of 120-130, the little finger and the ring finger on the left hand "fly away" from the strings, if you know what I mean.

Update you can see this video here, thats one of my own compositions:

You can see that there are mistakes and my little/ring finger fly away from the fret. Please ignore the title though... it did not work out :P :D.

  • 1
    Do you play with/without a pick? Are the tunes single note or chords? Can you give examples of the style you play/ want to play? How do you see G Lydian arpeggio, note wise?
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 7:18
  • 1
    You say that in your opinion those finger practice workouts are useless, but it is fairly obvious that they are highly valued by top professional guitars. I would suggest trusting their opinion, and sticking with the practice.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 7:36
  • If you want to play in G lydian, is retuning the guitar an option? If you tune the A string down to G (and the E string down to D) now you've got the root and fifth of G lydian, and you can play any combination of chords normally found in "D" major on the top four strings.
    – Grey
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 8:20
  • @Tim, I play with a pick. I learned Indian Classical for a year and a half, you can check out this video if you like: youtube.com/watch?v=_DmlCrHIeJU Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 5:25

4 Answers 4


Finger Style

I would suggest you practice right-hand patterns.

Your note that the exercises you found are "useless" suggests to me that the area you truly want to improve is your right-hand finger picking technique.

There are 3 fundamental patterns you should master with the right hand to begin with:

1) Ascending arpeggio: Thumb, Index, Middle, Ring.

2) Descending arpeggio: Ring, Middle, Index, Thumb

3) Ascending and Descending (played as a sextuplet pattern; 6 notes in a beat). Ring, Middle, Index, Thumb, Index, Middle

Now, the best way I know of to practice this pattern is to play a major 7 chord like this:

E A G  D  b  e 
x x 12 11 10 9 

(You can play this pattern with all three arpeggio types above).

Now, you can get a left-hand work out (and make the exercise more interesting) by stretching one note lower every time, like this:

E A G  D  b  e 
x x 12 11 10 8

E A G  D  b  e 
x x 12 11 9 8 

And continuing until you've stretched all the way back to first position.

Let me know if this helps. There are many other exercises that could be useful but I think it's a good idea to start here.

Pick Style

This advice also applies to a pick-style of playing, but in that case the fundamental methods used to play pick-style guitar fall into three categories.

Alternate picking Alternate picking is a method of playing that emphasizes a strict rotational picking of down, up, down, up. Chromatic exercises on the guitar with four notes per string are a good way to practice this. The most effective application of alternate picking will be on a single string. the "Flight of the Bumblebee" is one of the best repertoire pieces to work on alternate picking.

Sweep picking Sweep picking is playing several consecutive notes using the same picking direction. By necessity these notes must be on adjacent strings. One of the best ways to practice sweep picking is by playing major and minor triad arpeggios across all strings.

Economy picking Economy picking doesn't get as much attention these days, but basically it's alternate picking on single strings, but using sweep picking to get across strings. It's very economical, hence the name. One of the best ways to practice economy picking (besides difficult repertoire) is to play three-note scale patterns across the strings, taking care that each time you switch strings you use the same picking motion on the next string as you did on the previous. It's sort of a mini-sweep.

  • I play with a pick, but I'm definitely going to give this a try. And I can't up-vote you... no rep. :/ Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 5:15

You might want to try Mauro Giuliani 120 right hand studies. http://www.stormthecastle.com/classical_guitar/Collection/120studies-for-right-hand.pdf

  • hmm, they seem quite exhaustive... anything for the left hand? Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 5:29

@Drona - well done ! There's not a lot wrong here. Your posture is going to make the playing easier if you sit up more, and make the body of your guitar more vertical. Now, it's angled and makes your left hand need to curl round too much, making your fingers press on the fingerboard too straight. Pull the bottom of the guitar in, and your hand will fit better, allowing you to use fingertips rather than pads. Yes, you'll still be able to play the barre chords with flat fingers, but the rest of it will use the tips .It'll feel weird for a while, but give it a try. You'll find you don't need to look at the fingerboard as much as you think - muscle memory - so don't !

Why answers seem to home in on right hand I don't know.

  • Answers home in on right hand cuz I didn't ask right :). I'll be more specific next time :). And... no reps so I can't upvote :/. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 10:16

For major arpeggios (typically rooted on the 6th or 5th string), begin with either middle (2) or your little (4) finger. So, beginning with the major triad, you either have a comfortable 2-1-4 fingering on two adjacent bass strings or a 4-3-1 fingering on three adjacent bass strings.

The upper voices are an exercise for you, but those starting positions should get you going. Lydian is a nice choice. Work on playing any mode anywhere on the neck. Enjoy!

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