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Watch the 6: 4 Note Chords & Arps online guitar lesson by Frank Vignola from Modern Method for Guitar

So far we have focused on 3 note chords and arpeggios. Adding a 4th note to the 3 note chords adds color to music, making it more interesting. Remember that to build the triad, use every other note in the scale. Apply the same rule to find the 4th note. So, in addition to the 1-3-5 notes, C-E-G, we add the 7 or B to build the C major 7th chord. The name comes from the fact that we added the 7th note of the major scale to the major triad.

In this chapter we apply the same approach to the 4-note arpeggios that we used with the 3-note arpeggios.


1. Start with the major triads that you worked out on paper, in all 12 keys. Build the major 7th arpeggios by adding the 7th note of the scale to each.

2. The same applies to the minor chords and arpeggios. Add a 4th tone to the A minor triad to build the A minor 7th. In this example the 7th note of the A natural minor scale is G so that is the 4th note we add.

3. Find a C note on the fingerboard.

4. Place your first finger on the C.

5. Play the Cmaj7 arpeggio (C-E-G-B), starting with your 1st finger, hunt down the notes to play a one-octave arpeggio.

6. Next, fret the same C note with your 2nd finger and repeat the exercise. Using a different digit to start the scale forces you to come up with an alternative fingering.

7. Next, start with your 3rd finger and play another Cmaj7 arpeggio.

8. Finally, start with your 4th finger and play another Cmaj7 arpeggio.

9. Use this same approach using every C note on the guitar as a starting point.

10. Do this in all 12 keys with all chord types.

11. Remember to strive to get the sound of the chord in your ear.


12. Starting with the root, play the arpeggio up and down the fingerboard on each string.

13. Next, begin on the lowest note of the arpeggio and play the notes up and down on each string. For example: in C, start with the open E, the 3rd of the arpeggio, on the 2nd string, start with B, the major 7th, on the 3rd string start with G, the 5th, on the 4th string start with E, the 3rd, on the 5th string start with B, the major 7th, on the 6th string start with E, the 3rd of the arpeggio.

14. It is up to you to find all of the fingerings.

15. Do this exercise in other keys with the goal of playing in all 12 keys.