Arpeggios and chord tones are some of the most important patterns you can practice on bass guitar. We generally learn one octave shapes that fall easily under the fingers. Two octave arpeggios require a lot of position shifting and can be quite technically demanding. In this free online bass lesson, I’ll show you a system for working out arpeggio shapes for both triads and seventh chords.

In the previous lesson, we looked at how you can take a standard one-octave scale and extend it over two octaves. This lesson focusses on arpeggios, which can be a little trickier as they have to cover a larger distance with less notes.

Three fingerings of C major

Let’s start with a basic C major triad – CEG. The diagrams below show three different fingerings for this arpeggio that all start from the same place. Learning these patterns will help you visualise all the different ways you can play the same arpeggio and will give you more options when it comes to extending them.

Two Octave Triads

Two Octave C Major

To extend this scale over two octaves, we are going to use the first fingering shown above as we can simply shift our position and play the same pattern again. You can barre the G and the C in the first octave with the 1st finger to get you in the right position for octave two. Then you just need to make sure you play the G on the 12th fret with your 1st finger so you can reach the high C.

You can apply the same technique to pretty much every arpeggio – use the diagrams and notation below as an exercise to practice extending them over more than one octave.

Two Octave C Minor

Two Octave C Augmented

Two Octave C Diminished

Two Octave Triads over 3 strings

As with two-octave scales, we can also play two-octave arpeggios with the root note on the A string. This is a bit harder as it involves more shifts and larger stretches but is still useful to know how to do.

C major

C minor

Two Octave Seventh Chords

Cmaj7

C7

Cm7

Cm7b5


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