HP Five: Tim Miller Style Arpeggios

Ten years from now, Tim Miller’s Creative Arpeggio Design will be just as much a part of the canon of must-own instructional materials as Chord Chemistry or The Advancing Guitarist is today.

In it, Tim does exactly the kind of thing we’re trying to do with this course—expose an underlying principle from which whole universes can be extrapolated. As Miyamoto Musashi said,

From one thing, know ten thousand things.

Tim’s big insight is that there is an endlessly malleable, great-sounding arpeggio shape that’s eash(ish) to play.

He calls it 212121. Two notes on one string, then one note on the next…

[2 1]

…repeated across all six strings…

[2 1 2 1 2 1]

…played with a consistent hybrid picking + legato pattern on the way up…

…and with swept UPS + legato on the way back down.

In the fretting hand, the “1”s can be on a lower fret than the second note of the “2”s…


…at the same fret as the second note of the 2s…


…or on a higher fret than the second note of the 2s.


29. This one has some same-fret/adjacent-string maneuvers.

30. This one goes even further down the contortionist path.

31.  And it’s worth mentioning that the 2-1s needn’t be confined to starting with the 6th string. Here’s one that starts on the 5th string, then restarts with the 2 on the 1st string for the descent.

32. You also don’t have to start with the 2, or confine yourself to just one picking pattern. Here’s one that starts with the 1, uses directional picking, takes advantage of both the and the a, and incorporates a slide.

You can probably tell that we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with this idea. If it’s as exciting to you as it was to me, you should buy Tim’s course (and clear your social calendar for a month).

In the next lesson we’ll extend this idea with a look at some Carl Verheyen-style “intervallic” playing.

See you there,