How to play Major 7 arpeggios on guitar (with application examples)

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024


If you want to take your improvisation skills to the next level, it’s important to have a solid understanding of Major 7 arpeggios. Arpeggios are so effective because they highlight the important notes of a chord.

If you’re familiar with Major triads, this concept goes one step further to include another note in the chord structure.

In this post, we’ll specifically look at how to play Major 7 arpeggios shapes on guitar and application examples over different chords. Grab your guitar and let’s start learning!

Understanding Major 7 Arpeggios

Before learning to play arpeggios, it’s important to understand what Major 7 chords are and how they are built. Every Major 7 chord is built upon the following four chord tones: 1, 3, 5, and 7. These chord tones can also be thought of as the scale degrees related to a Major scale.

For example, the C Major 7 chord has the chord tones C, E, G, and B. This is essentially a C Major chord with an added 7th chord tone.

Here is the formula for Major 7 chords below.

Now that you know what notes belong to the Major 7 chord structure, let’s look at how to read the chord charts.

How to read the chord charts

For the chord charts below:

  • The top horizontal line of the chord chart represents the high E string and the bottom horizontal line represents the low E string.
  • The vertical lines separate each fret.
  • The green dots represent the root note.

You can check this link for more on how to read guitar notation symbols.

Major 7 arpeggio shape 1

Here is the first shape with the root note starting on the 6th string. You can use any root note to play these examples but we will cover application examples later in this post.

For the following charts, the left side shows you the suggested fingering for an arpeggio and the right side shows you what chord tones you are playing.

Major 7 arpeggio shape 1

Major 7 arpeggio shape 2

Here is a second way to play to a Major 7 arpeggio with the root on the 6th string. This arpeggio is more difficult because requires a wider stretch between your fingers.

Major 7 arpeggio shape 2

Major 7 arpeggio shape 3

Here is one another arpeggio shape with the root note on the 6th string.

Major 7 arpeggio shape 3


Major 7 arpeggio shape 4

Now, here is the Major 7 arpeggio shape with the root note starting on the 5th string.

Major 7 arpeggio shape 4

Major 7 arpeggio shape 5

Major 7 arpeggio shape 5

Major 7 arpeggio shape 6

This arpeggio shape blends the last two shapes.

Major 7 arpeggio shape 6


All arpeggio shapes on the fretboard

To help you connect all the shapes we learned, here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using a C Major 7 chord arpeggio.

C Major 7 arpeggios


E Major 7 arpeggios

Here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using an E Major 7 chord arpeggio.

E Major 7 arpeggio shapes guitar

G Major 7 arpeggios

Here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using a G Major 7 chord arpeggio.


Major 7 arpeggio application examples

Now, we’ll look at some application examples of using arpeggios over a C Major 7 chord. You can listen to each example below the notation with tabs.

Application example 1

This first example uses an ascending four note pattern using only the C Major 7 chord tones: C, E, G, and B.

Major 7 arpeggio examples 1 notation

Application example 2

Next, we have a similar example as the previous one except we’re playing a descending four note pattern.

Major 7 arpeggio examples 2 notation

Application example 3

Now, we’ll incorporate the arpeggio with other scale and chromatic notes.

Major 7 arpeggio examples 3 notation

Application example 4

For this example, we are imposing a G Major 7 arpeggio over the C Major 7 chord. This creates a lydian sound which highlights the raised 4th degree.

Major 7 arpeggio examples 4 notation

Application example 5

This last example also uses a G Major 7 arpeggio with a descending note and rhythm pattern.

Major 7 arpeggio examples 5 notation

Wrapping up

Arpeggios are a foundational part of improvisation because they highlight the important notes of a chord. If you practice this concept, you’ll find that your solos have much more clarity over the chords you’re playing over.

As you become more comfortable playing arpeggios over a specific chord, also try incorporating other scale notes or try different rhythmic ideas to make your ideas sound more musical. You can also challenge yourself to play arpeggios examples or ideas over different chords.

Check out these other posts to learn how to play minor 7 arpeggios, Dominant 7 arpeggios, or half diminished arpeggios on guitar.

I hope this helps you to create more interesting ideas when improvising. Happy practicing!

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Best,

JG Music Lessons

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