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Fierce Guitar: Intervallic Arpeggios

Dave Martone shows you how to combine an intervallic approach to playing arpeggios with some wicked hybrid picking

When I dig into a burning solo, I like to combine different techniques that can give my lines an interesting feel. In this lesson, we’re going to combine an intervallic approach to playing arpeggios with some wicked hybrid picking.

Displacing certain notes in the arpeggio and combining them in odd groupings creates a flowing, angular feel that will make people say, “Hey! What is that?” These examples will involve a lot of string skipping, so in order to play them at breakneck speeds, we’ll need to use some hybrid picking. Essentially, hybrid picking is when you use the other fingers on your picking hand—usually the middle and ring fingers— in addition to the flatpick. Hot-rod country players have been doing this forever, and we’re going to steal it and combine it with some pure rock fury.

In the first example shown in Fig. 1, I’m playing a G#m arpeggio starting on the b7th. This works really well over the F#m. Since F# is the second note of an E major scale, this chord functions as a iim7. This arpeggio will be our starting point for adding some intervallic displacement, since right now it sounds a little plain. Download Example 1 audio...

In Fig. 2 we take the same arpeggio and create a seven-note pattern that will repeat twice. In the example I have notated which finger to use for each string with a representing the ring finger and m indicating the middle finger. The missing last note gives the lick a displaced feeling, but continuing with the 16th-note rhythm adds excitement. The arpeggio is pulled apart by bouncing intervals between the b7 and the lick’s root note, and with the 5th, b3rd, and the b7 occurring an octave higher. In the audio example, I cycle the lick twice so you can hear the connection between the two seven-note patterns.
Download Example 2 audio...

Now that we have one pattern under our fingers, we want to move this idea to different places on the fretboard. In Fig. 3, we are visualizing a C# minor tonality over string set 6–5–4. I am again starting on the b7 of C#m and bouncing the same intervallic pattern inside the arpeggio. We treat the Emaj9 chord in Fig. 4 the same way, but move it to string set 5–4–3.
Download Example 3 audio...
Download Example 4 audio...

We will combine a few of these examples to create Fig. 5. We start in the 7th position and cycle through the seven-note pattern four times before ending with huge bend at the 14th fret. The chords we are implying over this example are C#m7, Emaj9, C#m7, and G#m7. Notice the wicked sound and contour of the lick. Using hybrid picking really allows me to pop those notes out. My suggestion would be to get the feeling of each example and make sure you can repeat it in tempo to feel the syncopation.
Download Example 5 audio:Slow - Fast

Finally, we’ll take the concept up the neck, instead of across the neck. This can be done on all string sets, but the example shown in Fig. 6 will deal with strings 1–3. We’ll start on the key’s relative minor chord, which will be C#m7, and again use the same hybrid-picking approach with these arpeggios. I find that the minor shape feels the best right out of the gate, but our fingers will adapt to the other shapes lurking around the corner.

Next up we have D#m7b5. Try playing the C# on the 3rd string with your 1st finger, and then quickly move the 1st finger to hit A on the 1st string. Next, move to the root chord (Emaj7) on beat 4 using the same 1st-finger jump as before. Use your 2nd finger to hammer-on the E on the 3rd string and then use a finger roll to cover both the E at the end of the first measure and the G# on beat 1 of the second.

The next fingering that we want to look at is for the B7 chord at the end of the third measure. Start with your 1st finger on the A at the 14th fret and hammer-on to the B with your 4th finger. Use another finger roll to hit both the B and the D# going into beat 4. Compared to planting other fingers down, this roll technique saves time and makes playing fast lines much easier.

I suggest playing each shape twice before moving up to the next chord in the scale. This way you will feel the bounce in the sound and feel more confident before moving up. Also, make sure you play them down the neck as well. Once you feel comfortable with this, try and double the speed of the lick as you can hear in the audio example. I hope these examples open new doors for you and help you sound a little cooler than before! Download Example 6 audio: Slow - Fast

Dave Martone
Combining blistering chops with an explosion of sound, Dave Martone is a leading voice in the instrumental rock scene. His latest Magna Carta release, Clean, features guests such as Joe Satriani, Greg Howe, and Billy Sheehan. As an educator, he has taught for the National Guitar Workshop, Berklee College of Music, and Workshop Live. For more information, visit