Alfred Potter

Alfred Potter

Tapping Arpeggios Lesson #2

Welcome to the second lesson on two-hand tapped arpeggios! Last time we covered the fundamentals such as: muting, string transitions, and a small 2-string example arpeggio to begin with. Now it's time to delve further into the technique and learn some larger arpeggio shapes. This lesson will teach you the tapped arpeggios for the four 7th chords of the major scale: The Maj7, the Dom7, the Min7, and the Min7b5 arpeggio. I will provide you with a TAB and also a fingering diagram (where the blue notes are the tapped notes) for each arpeggio.

NOTE: Use your picking hand's middle finger to execute the tapped notes for the following 4 arpeggios. Using the ring finger for tapped notes on the high e string is optional.





As always, check out the video below for a more in-depth lesson and to see/hear these arpeggios in action!



Essential Scale Sequences

What are scale sequences?

A sequence is a repeated and ordered pattern applied to the notes of a scale or arpeggio.

Imagine walking in a straight line for 8 steps. You could go ahead one step at a time like you normally would or you could decide to mix it up. For instance, you could step forward 3 times and step back once. You could step forward 4 times and step back twice. You could even leap forward a distance of 2 steps and then take a step back. All of these would be different ways in which you could walk ahead 8 steps. They are different patterns. They are different sequences.

Why learn them?

From the moment you learn a scale, it is your duty as a musician to convert it into music. Playing scales up and down the same way forever simply won’t cut it. And so the use of scale sequences is the answer. Sequences are an essential part of fretboard freedom and musical freedom. The more you master, the more interesting and creative sounds you can make with scales. Using sequences can change the way in which your guitar leadwork affects a track/song/jam. For instance, simply playing up through the notes of a scale produces a rather bland and straightforward result, represented below by a straight line. Whereas by applying something powerfully intervallic like the second example in this article: the "Pentatonic 4ths" sequence, you can produce a far more jagged and melodic sound to the ear, represented below by the jagged rising line.

How to use them

Play through the examples. Alternate pick everything. Apply them to different positions/scales/modes/keys. Familiarise yourself with the different sound of each sequence. Next time you jam, make sure to incorporate them into your leads. Perhaps between licks, melodies or scale runs you already know. Remember to mix it up: play examples as 16th notes (4 notes per beat) but also try them as 8th note triplets (3 notes per beat). Different notes of the sequence will land on different beats and can change the sound. You may be very pleased with what you discover! Pay very close attention to the fretting fingering instructions under some ambiguous tabs. Play examples exactly as specified to avoid unnecessary difficulty and confusion.

Example #1: "Linear Fours" in C Major

Here is the first of four examples. Instead of playing the C major 3-notes-per-string (3NPS) scale up and down, we apply a sequence called "Linear Fours". The pattern goes like this: Forward 4 notes, back 1 note. When you step back that one note, the sequence begins again. Give it a go!

Example #2: "Pentatonic 4ths" in A minor

Now we will try out a pentatonic idea. This one is trickier as it requires you to employ finger rolling to hit adjacent notes. In other words, you'll need to rock a small barre back and forth with a fretting finger to play notes which have the same fret number but a different string. Go really slowly to ensure a clean sound. And make sure you follow the fingering instructions under the tab.

Example #3: "Skipped 3rds" Diminished Arpeggio

This example shows that sequences aren't limited to scales - they can be applied to arpeggios as well. Starting on the D note on the low E string we play through the 4 notes of the diminished arpeggio (Root, Min3, b5 & 6 AKA bb7). But we don't play them in order. Instead we play the first note, then jump over the second to play the third (Hence "Skipped 3rds") and then we step back a note to play the second. And from that note we skip up a third, then step back one, and so on it goes. Once again, pay attention to the fingering instructions below the tab. Love this sound!

Example #4: "Root, 7th & 5th Triads" E Lydian

This is the most complex example by far, and sounds amazing! I'll try to explain this one as simply as possible. We are basically sequencing an E Lydian scale by building triads of root, 7th and 5th off every note of an EMaj7 chord. But don't get too caught up with the technical aspects of this if you don't want to, just follow the fingering instructions (Slowly!) and enjoy this beautiful sound.

Check out the video lesson!






Clean Note Transitions

This is a lesson on how to play passages of notes in
a perfectly clean and intelligible way. You must eliminate silence between notes
to create a seamless stream of sound. Picture your notes as a brick wall. You
want to lay the bricks so tightly that there are no spaces in between them.

The problem:

When a guitarist first begins learning, every movement is very deliberate and
conscious. When they play single notes one after another they have to stop,
find the next note, move their fingers there, and prepare to pluck the string.
All of these conscious actions lead to a period of silence/shuffling around
while they prepare to play the next note. And so a satisfying flow of notes is
not achieved.

The solution:

The solution to technical problems is always to tackle the problem directly and with a targeted
exercise which is as small as possible so as to reduce the workload on the
brain and fingers and to ensure faster results.

Ex #1 - Basic single string clarity:

Let’s achieve a loop of two perfect notes on a single string. On the high e string, the thinnest,
pluck the 12th fret. Let it sound for a moment. Now press the string
against the 15th fret with your pinkie, and the MOMENT you do, as in
instantaneously, pick the string. If you did this correctly you should have
heard the first note stop and the second note begin almost seamlessly. The only
sound in between should be the gentle percussive click of the pick striking the
string. Now lift your finger back off the 15th fret and immediately
pick again to return to the 12th fret. Again the notes should
transition seamlessly. Go back and forth between these two notes slowly and
perfectly. Remember to palm mute the other 5 strings to kill string noise.

Ex #2 – The “See Saw” exercise. AKA “The Siren”:

This exercise is exactly the same as Ex #1 except that the second note is on the b string
instead of the high e. The purpose of this exercise is to keep the same clean flow
of notes going even while crossing strings. Keep both index finger and pinkie
touching the strings at all times. Never lift either finger off its string. To
fret a note simply press down gently and then pick. The other finger will be
gently resting on/muting the other string but NOT fretting it. To play the
other note simply reverse roles. So put simply, both fingers will be touching
the strings at all times but only one will ever be fretting at any given
moment. When the b string is being played, your palm should be muting the 4
lowest strings. When the high e string is being played, your palm should be
muting all 5 lower strings. Loop this.

Ex #3 – Pentatonic scale section:

You are now ready to apply your one and two string transitions to a scale fragment. Very slowly play
through the three highest strings of the E minor pentatonic scale. Focus
diligently on starting the next note as soon as the previous begins. Build that
perfect wall of notes. No space in between the bricks. Go in one direction.
Have a rest. And then return.




Tapping Arpeggios Lesson

I proudly present an in-depth technical guide to basic multi-string two-hand tapping arpeggios. Learn how to tap, how to cross strings and how to perform a basic 2-string, string skipped diminished arpeggio on the g and e strings. From there you are free to branch out to bigger shapes and more exciting opportunities on your own and with the help of my lick videos.

However before we proceed, make sure that you've seen my video below on string muting. Keeping your playing free of unwanted string noise is essential! 

Single String Tapping Recap

Now that your muting has been addressed, let's apply it to some single string tapping before moving on to multi-string tapping. See the tab below. We're going to do some simple back and forth legato and tapping. With your index finger on the 10th fret of the G string, make sure that the underside of the finger rests flat across the b and high e strings - muting them. Use your palm mute to keep the D, A & E strings quiet. Zero in on that G string and make it the only one ringing out. Tap with the middle finger of your picking hand to the 16th fret, tapped pull-off to the pinkie on the 13th fret, pull-off to the index finger on the 10th fret, hammer-on back to the pinkie, and then tap the 16th fret again to loop.

String Crossing Exercise: "Seesaw"

Tapping is rather straightforward on a single string. But things get tricky as soon as you attempt to cross strings i.e multi-string tapping. But never fear, I have created a basic 2 note exercise to tackle these challenging string transitions. Introducing the "Seesaw" exercise:

Start by tapping the 16th fret of the G string as before. Let it ring for a moment and then when you're ready, hammer-on to the 10th fret of the high e string with your index finger. The moment you do, unfret the tapped note on the G string. That doesn't mean pull-off. It means raise up the tapping finger so that the string separates from the fret and is silenced by the tapping finger. Your tapped finger is now safe to leave the string.

To return, simply do it in reverse. Tap back onto the 16th fret of the G string. And as soon as you do, unfret the high e string. Go back and forth between these two notes very slowly. Focus on perfect note separation. As soon as one note ends, the next one starts. And with that let's move onto multi string tapping.

2-String Diminished Tapped Arpeggio

The reason I chose this arpeggio is that the shape is nice and symmetrical and easy to remember. The fret numbers and fingers are the same so we can focus more on the technique than on the actual arpeggio shape.

Start out the same as the single string example: tap, pull-off x2, hammer-on, tap. And then execute the string cross maneuver to get you to the 10th fret on the high e string. Now at this point you will need to move up your picking hand mute/palm mute a bit so that every string except the high e is silenced by your picking hand. From here, pinkie hammer-on to the 13th fret and then tap onto the 16th fret. You may use the same tapping finger or do what I do, which is to utilise the ring finger. Now just pull-off to the 13th fret and again to the 10th.

Do the string cross maneuver once again to return to the G string. Careful of string noise here: Keep your fretting hand low and vigilant as it ducks back to the G string to end the tapped arpeggio by doing a tapped pull-off to the pinkie on the 13th fret and then pull-off to the 10th fret.

I hope this helps!
Check out my video walkthrough below:



Japanese Scale Picking Patterns

Get exotic with the Japanese Pentatonic scale! Like the standard pentatonic scale, the Japanese pentatonic also has 5 box positions. This lesson also includes diagonal picking patterns to aid your horizontal playing and fretboard vision. This lesson will be in the key of A Japanese Pentatonic.

Box Shape 1
This is the first box shape for the A Japanese Pentatonic scale. You should note that it is actually the exact same scale as the A Natural Minor. The only difference is that the minor thirds and flat sevens have been removed (grey notes).

This means that you can use the A Japanese Pentatonic scale over a standard A minor progression!

So starting on the 5th fret play the black notes up and back down again.

Box Shape 2

Here is the second position. Play this on the second note of the previous position, the 7th fret. The tricky part with this position is the pinky finger roll you have to perform when crossing between the G and B strings.

Box Shape 3

Carry on playing through the box positions. Begin this third shape on the second note of the second shape. Start with your second finger followed by the pinky to make the change to the A string easier.

Box Shape 4

This second-to-last box position is otherwise known as the "In Sen" scale. Starting here on the E, the 12th fret, play this scale instead of E Phrygian for an instant exotic sound.

Box Shape 5

And this is the fifth and final box position for the A Japanese Pentatonic scale. Now let's step it up a notch with some diagonal picking patterns!

Diagonal Picking Pattern 1

Starting back on the root note, the A (5th fret), we take the first two strings of the first box position and repeat the pair diagonally to slice right across three box positions. It's a great way to get around the neck and is an easy pattern to remember.

Diagonal Picking Pattern 2

This next diagonal picking patterns begins where the second box position is. This one is a bit of a wide stretch but the pattern is interesting and covers 11 frets of space. This slices right across and up to the fifth position. And again we have a pattern on a string pair which is repeated and moved up diagonally. Easy to remember.

Diagonal Picking Pattern 3

Here's that "In Sen" scale again. This pattern spans a big 11 frets like the previous and slices up to the top of the second box position of the next octave.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson.
Check out the video below to see and hear the patterns being demonstrated



Diminished Scale Picking Patterns

The diminished scale is another very interesting scale. It's a neverending repeating pattern of whole tone, half tone, whole tone, half tone etc. For this reason there are only two main scale positions, as opposed to the 5 positions of the pentatonic scale or the 7 positions of the major scale. It also sounds terrifying in a heavy metal solo and is great for working all 4 fretting fingers as you will see. I will now take you through the 2 main scale positions, and then I will show you 3 of my favorite diagonal shapes.

Whole-Half Diminished Scale

Starting on the 7th fret, try out the Whole-Half diminished scale. It's called this because from the root note, in this case B, we play a whole step ahead (2 frets) followed by a half step (1 fret) after that. This pattern repeats endlessly.

Half-Whole Diminished Scale

This is the second position and therefore starts on the second note of the first scale shape, the C#. This is the same idea as before but flipped around so that we begin with the root note, followed by a half step, followed by a whole step, and so on.

Whole-Half Diagonal

Because of the repetitive nature of the diminished scale, you can arrange your fingerings into really interesting diagonal shapes like this. This one is exclusively the "Whole-Half" fingering.

Half-Whole Diagonal

This one is exactly the same as before except instead of using the "Whole-Half" fingering on the B (7th fret), we will be using the "Half-Whole" fingering on the C# (9th fret)

Wide 2-nps Custom Diagonal

Here is a custom, wide, diagonal position which is a favorite of mine. It begins on the B (7th fret), skips the whole step and the half step to land on the fourth note. I then shift this pattern up and across diagonally. Wow what a sound!

Be sure to bust out these evil scales next time you encounter a heavy open E riffing breakdown!
Check out the video lesson below for the playthrough



Alternate Picking Exercises

Alternate picking for the lead guitar is where the picking hand executes alternating pickstrokes to play passages of notes. This down, up, down, up pattern is kept constant no matter what pattern the fretting hand is fingering or how many strings may be involved. This technique, while very tricky to master, can lead to a powerful sound and blistering high speed playing.

But a high level of picking hand accuracy must be established and synchronisation must be developed so that the two hands work together perfectly in time.

Work on these five looping exercises and begin developing your alternate picking technique right now!

Exercise 1: "PHI (Picking Hand Isolation) skipped all strings"
This works purely on the picking hand accuracy. Mute the strings by gently resting your fretting hand fingers across the strings. Rest your picking hand near the bridge and begin picking through the skipped pattern. This may be tricky at first and you may accidently hit the wrong strings as you skip. Slowly work on it until it is clean and you no longer make mistakes.


Exercise 2: "Back n Forth 2-string combination"

This is an absolute favourite of mine. It contains ascending and descending groups of six with parts changing direction. So many useful movements are encountered in this exercise.


Exercise 3: "Nimble Fingers single string sync"

This goes back and forth on one string bouncing between finger pairs to really get your hands synchronised together. Remember to give this a go on other strings too, not just the one string shown here.


Exercise 4: "Fmaj7 fractured 4 finger arpeggio"

Take this one very slowly. It’s an absolute minefield of potential mistakes. But that’s good, because once you get comfortable with it… that means you have improved! This is all string crosses and skips. If you can develop skill with this then most other exercises will seem much easier by comparison.


Exercise 5: "F6 skipped arpeggio"

This outlines an F6 chord. Apart from sounding cool, this forces you to cross to a string, then back, then skip over a string. All one after another. And will further improve your accuracy and string crosses.

Check out the video to see and hear these exercises in action!





How to Sweep Pick: Beginner's Guide

This lesson is a no-frills study of how sweep picking is performed. Always start with the basics when learning a new technique. Nailing them and creating a strong foundation is essential for making good, quick progress. Do not dive right into large 5 and 6 string sweep shapes/passages - This is a huge and very common mistake!

The Picking Motion  

-Mute the strings by covering them with your fretting hand.
-Now using your wrist (or forearm if you would prefer - both methods work) begin by downpicking the G string. The trick here is not to pick like you would usually, but to pick through the G string and let your pick land up against the next string, in this case, the B string. So, you play the string and the pick immediately falls through and lands on the next.
-Now play the B string with another downstroke and immediately land on the high e string.
-Downpick the high e and get ready to turn around.
-Pick the high e with an upstroke this time and let the pick immediately land up against the B string.
-Upstroke the B string and land against the G string.
-Upstroke the G string, do not land against the D string, turn around again to repeat the exercise.
-Let that pick fall through the strings!


That same part of your hand that you use to mute riffs is the same you use to mute lower strings that have just been swept. Try this open string muting exercise to get a feel for palm muting in a sweep picking context.
-Place your palm mute on the strings near the bridge. Get it so that the D string is muted by your palm but the G string is not.
-Pick the G string and let your pick fall and land against the B string.
-Now pick the B string and let the pick fall and land against the high e string. At the exact same time as you do this, you want to shift your palm mute up to mute the G string.
-Now pick the high e string and again, instantly move your mute up to mute the B string.
-The palm mute chases the notes you just swept and silences them when a higher string is played. That is its purpose.
-If you can execute this exercise with 3 distinct and separate notes sounding out then you are muting well.

Clean Note Transitions

You also need to make sure that your fretting hand is transitioning between notes cleanly. This aided with a good palm mute is what creates a clean sweeping technique.
-Fret the 12th fret on the high e with the index finger and play with a downstroke.
-Now all at the same time you want to: unfret the 12th fret but do not take your finger off the string, fret the 13 fret (with middle finger) on the B string and upstroke it.
-Next, all at the same time, unfret the 13th (do not take your finger off the string though) and palm mute it, fret the 12th fret on the high e and downstroke it.
-Keep going back and forth between these two notes, fretting one and instantly unfretting the other, always keeping both of your fingers in contact with the strings. And whenever you return to the high e then your palm mute should catch the B string.

2-string and 3-string sweep examples

Use the picking motion, the palm mute, and the clean note transitions to play your first 2 string and 3 string sweep arpeggio shapes. Remember what you have learned and follow the picking instructions provided.

If any of this has been unclear then check out my video lesson below!



Min7 Alternate Picking Patterns

Last time I showed you how a Cmaj7 arpeggio could be arranged into useful picking patterns. Now, staying in the key of C major/A minor, we will be moving on to the Amin7 arpeggio. The notes and intervals contained in the following two picking shapes make up the arpeggio:

A, C, E & G.
R, m3, 5th & b7

A root, minor 3rd, 5th and flat 7 makes up a minor 7 chord/arpeggio.

Shape 1:

Shape 2:

Here's a bonus - because Dmin7 and Emin7 chords are both in the key of C major/A minor, you can play the exact same patterns for those arpeggios as well. This fact makes the arpeggio picking shapes extra useful.

Here is a descending run which I created by blending the Dmin7 and the Emin7 shapes together:

To hear these shapes in action (+ some bonus music theory) check out the video I made for this lesson:


Cmaj7 Alternate Picking Shapes

Here I have arranged the notes of a Cmaj7 chord into some seriously handy scale-like shapes. Pick through these, work them into your own soloing and get ready to jam with a whole new sound.

While using every note in any given scale is surely effective, by choosing and limiting which notes you play you can discover a whole new realm of sounds, licks and opportunities.

And so the idea I present today is how you can arrange the notes of a Cmaj7 chord/arpeggio (B, C, E & G) into playable scale-like shapes. Use the following shapes in the key of C Major (AKA A Minor):




Work these ideas into your own style. Blend them with your current favourite licks. Enjoy utilising the fresh sound that is the major 7 arpeggio.

To see and hear these shapes in action (+ a music theory breakdown) check out my video lesson below!


Mixed Scale Runs: Picking + Legato

Blast through your scale runs and create subtle texture differences in sound by mixing picking and legato. While there's little more satisfying than a perfectly executed alternate picking run, I'm a huge fan of injecting legato into the mix. Why? I believe there are two reasons:

Play faster sooner

I realised as a beginner (and struggling with alternate picking) that I could drastically increase my scale run speed by picking some notes and using hammerons & pulloffs to hit others. It gave my picking hand just enough of a rest during the legato sections to keep up.

It sounds great

I also realised that the mixture of percussive, picked notes and fluid smooth notes created a subtle yet pleasing sound difference throughout scale runs. See what I mean by giving this quick scale section a go, ascending and descending in C Major:

As abstract as this comparison is, I would compare the mixing of legato and picking to how a sparrow flies. If you've ever seen one flying overhead you may have noticed that they flap for a second or two and then tuck in their wings and fall for a moment, and then flap again, and fall again.
This is how picking + legato feels for me.
It makes me feel like a sparrow =|

Here's a brutal Jeff Loomis style shred lick using the technique!




Introduction to 3-notes-per-string scale sequences

The following scale shape is the Aeolian mode, otherwise known as the natural minor, the full minor, the minor scale and so on. I firmly believe that the 3-note-per-string scale shapes are the only modal scale shapes needed. Box shapes are unnecessary and cumbersome to work with, especially when trying to gain speed or eloquently sequence scales.

Sequencing the scale

Sequencing the minor scale is no different to sequencing the minor pentatonic scale. The pattern of notes simply follows the sequence chosen. Here are two somewhat challenging yet useful sequences:


This is the name I personally gave this sequence. Other than that I suppose one could call it the “Up 4, back 1 sequence”.




This is a very common sequence. Otherwise known as "diatonic thirds". Once you’ve become familiar with it, you’ll start noticing it everywhere in music. It’s difficult to articulate as the notes are “skipped”. Skipped sequences are typically harder to play than so called “linear” ones, so don’t aim for speed with such sequences straight away.

The “skipped 3rds” sequence goes like this: Skip up a 3rd, back down 1.



Sequence mixing

This next example showcases how sequences can be mixed together within a scale to create interesting musical passages.

In A minor (Aeolian):


Clean Up Your Alternate Picking

A hugely under discussed aspect of alternate picking is that of picking hand imbalance and the trouble it can cause.

Alternate picking is when notes are executed by the picking hand in an alternating manner - a downstroke followed by an upstroke followed by a downstroke and so on. For whatever reason, players often tend to be far better at downstrokes than they are at upstrokes. And, if one picking direction is favored then a picking imbalance will be encountered.

Let's dive right into exercise No. 1 to combat this.
Exercise 1

Take this chromatic exercise. It's 4 repeating notes played with alternate picking. Accent (pick hard) every downstroke. And now...
Exercise 2

Try the exact same thing but accenting every upstroke instead.

Did you find one exercise easier than the other? Whichever one you found to be a little harder - practice that one far more than the other. Working on our weaknesses makes us strong, and in the context of these 2 exercises, working on our weaker pickstroke will bring us balance.

The other area of alternate picking which is prone to imbalances is string crossing (playing a note on one string and then switching to another to continue playing). There are 4 ways to cross a string: Outside picking away from you, outside picking towards you, inside picking away from you, and inside picking towards you. Here is a graphic to explain what I mean:

String crossing is the biggest hurdle when it comes to fast, accurate, multi-string picking runs, and all 4 of these string crosses need to be mastered evenly. If even one of these aren't as good as the other 3 then you will be imbalanced and severely restricted.

And so I designed a short, repeating exercise to address this. The exercise includes all 4 string crosses. You will feel what I mean the moment you try it!
Exercise 3

Here is the video for the final exercise with in depth explanation:




Three-Note-Per-String Blues Scale Patterns

As we know, the blues scale is a fundamental scale learned rather early on. Perhaps for this reason, it is widely thought of as a beginner's tool. This is not the case! Not only can the blues scale be used to create some of the most slick/emotional blues solos, it can also be visualised and played as a 3nps scale. This allows for further sequencing opportunities, huge fretboard coverage and opens up a whole new world of wild, flashy and wide-interval legato/ tapping licks (if that's your thing).


Creating Custom Blues Scale Shapes

The very first scale a guitarist learns is often the minor pentatonic scale. The minor pentatonic scale is easy to familiarise oneself with and is incredibly versatile. After this may come the addition of the blues note – to make the blues minor scale. From there, a guitarist will probably branch out and learn other available scales, such as the full natural minor scale and the major scale and its modes. But wait. Let’s backtrack a bit here. There’s a lot more to “the blues” than you may think.


Emotional Melodic Lead Playing

Emotional/melodic lead playing

Playing straight from your 'soul' Emotional/melodic playing is the art of expressing one's emotion directly through the instrument. For many musicians it is the ultimate goal - to be one with music. But wait! This sounds like a quest that could take years to complete! And you'd be right. To get to the stage where scale shapes and thought disappears takes years. However, a quick introduction and some handy hints will get you well on your way in no time.

Subscribe to this RSS feed