PIM Arpeggio Pattern

PIM is one of the most common and fundamental patterns we play on the guitar.  Master this, and you are certainly on the right track.

Remember, use good fundamental movement, and avoid the common mistakes.

Note: Scroll down for a quick review video and for further study links.  This is part of a full course on arpeggios.

Playing the PIM Arpeggio Pattern

When learning the PIM arpeggio, we want to first start with our hands off of the guitar. We will master the basic motion away from the guitar, and then, afterward, put it back on to the guitar.

Full Lesson:


So first close your hand a few times gently. Make sure that when you close your hand your tip joints stay flat, if you curl your tip joints the tips of your fingers will touch your palm, we don’t want that.  We want the pads of the fingers to touch the palm. If you do this briskly you may get a clapping sound, so within all of these arpeggios we want to always make sure that the tip joints stay passive.

This makes the tone much better and lets us move faster. Most of this action then comes from the big knuckle, the middle knuckle also moves a lot but is mainly following through from the power of the big knuckle.

Once we’ve done this a few times getting this motion, then we can leave the fingers in the hand, allow just the index and middle fingers to come out. Then do the exact same action with just those.

When this is comfortable release both the index and middle (I and M), and then close first the index finger and then the middle each in turn, so they both come out and then come in one at a time. When this is comfortable, then we can add the thumb in.

The thumb is denoted by the letter P. So you may want to spend just a moment, moving the thumb as if you were playing a note with it on the guitar. We want the thumb to also move from the big joint, way back near the wrist. Again the tip joint is passive, in other words do not hook with the thumb, the tip joint should be flat.

When you get this motion, then we can add the fingers back to it. So the action that we want to get is, for the fingers to extend while the thumb is playing.

So the thumb starts in a prepared position or out, when the thumb closes you can allow all the fingers of your hand to extend, so you can just go back and forth between the thumb and the fingers.

When this becomes comfortable you can reduce this to just the I and M fingers, and just go back and forth with the thumb and fingers.

Next you can play with the thumb and extend your I and M fingers. Then close just the I (thumb does not move), and then when the M finger closes in to the hand, the thumb can prepare to play again.

So there are three distinct actions happening. First the thumb plays and the two fingers extend, then just the I finger plays, and then the M finger plays while alternating with the thumb.

Be sure to keep your actions crisp and separated, eventually this will all be very quick and natural. But for now make sure that you are articulating each of these three actions separately and stopping between each one, so that each motion becomes a single articulated action.

Further Study:


Quick Review:

  1. P Plays, I and M throw out, plant onto 1st and 2nd strings.
  2. I Plays.
  3. M Plays, alternates with P.

Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

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