Watch the Arpeggio Etudes: 1 online guitar lesson by Pierre Bensusan from DADGAD Explorer: Guitar Intuite

In these arpeggio etudes, we'll be concentrating on developing independence in the fingers of the right hand. Very often people have two problems with this: we have a tendency to use our thumb in a predictable way, and we forget to give our full attention to sustaining the bass notes. In other words, fingers need to be able to play independently, regardless of what happens in the bass line (and vice versa), and we need to not only play notes but also stop them in order to get a clean voicing without interference. For example, if we play our first bass note followed by another, we should be able to stop the ringing in the first so we can only hear the second bass note. We'll achieve this by playing the first bass note with our thumb, using the index finger to play the second bass note while the thumb comes back and rests on the first bass string to stop its ringing. When we imagine that any finger could do that at anytime and anywhere, it should give us an idea of what the right hand can achieve.

We'll want to alternate between our style and a “whole-resonant” playing style, favored by steel string players and those in open-tuning. DADGAD aficionados often use a more intimate, "tight" playing style where you focus on building a hierarchy of sounds, rhythmic values, and sustain choices. As a marker, we'll play an arpeggio evolving on a 4/4 measure using the four last strings, without using our thumb at first. Instead, we'll use the middle finger twice, with the thumb resting on the first bass acting like a guide or an anchor.

The “little triangle” in the tab means rest, followed by the indicated finger that will be used for that rest. Here we'll rest by putting our thumb on the indicated string without strength or tension, just a relaxed position. In regards to the other fingering notation, we must learn how to rest and play at the same time, breaking it up into fragments so we really get it before going further. We'll mute all six strings by placing our left hand across the fretboard, getting only the percussion of the attack and not the pitch.

Then, try to play this exercise without muting, hearing distinctly how the bass comes and goes when resting. Concentrate first on playing a very clear and flowing arpeggio, going slowly, learning it right (not wrong), then play each bass figure by in series of four, and don't forget to have fun!