Skip to main content

Lick of the Day: Open-Voiced Arpeggio Etude by Steve Morse

Today's Lick of the Day is by the one-and-only Steve Morse, and it's an open-voiced arpeggio etude that combines string-skipping and alternate-picking techniques to outline a four-chord progression while moving down the neck.

Here's Steve's description:

I start out by using my index and ring fingers to fret the notes B (D string, ninth fret) and F♯ (G string, 11th fret), respectively. I then skip over the B string to grab the D note on the high E string's 10th fret with my middle finger before descending the A major scale over the next five notes, finishing the motif for the first chord (Bm) at the end of beat two. The remaining arpeggios are played similarly by shifting down the neck for each new chord and repeating the arpeggio pattern and scale run. The fret positions and fingerings vary slightly to account for the individual diatonic chord voicings.

The way I pick through this lick is consistent with my personal rule of alternate picking, with downstrokes on downbeats and upstrokes on the second and fourth 16th notes of each beat. However, the wide-interval leap between the G and high E string in each arpeggio presents a challenge, as it may feel awkward to perform an upstroke on the G string prior to a string skip in the opposite direction. When playing this lick, if strict alternate picking does not fit your personal style, try "sweeping" through the arpeggio by using two consecutive downstrokes in place of alternate picking. Similarly, you could use legato pull-offs where desired as you move down the scale run following each arpeggio. This lick is not about building monster picking chops as much as it is about learning how to perform the arpeggios within your own unique style of playing.

The tempo is 125 beats per minute, 80 for slow practice.

Be sure to check out Lick of the Day, a free download for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch available at the App Store.