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Guitar Modes – The Guitar Modes of the Major Scale

What are the Guitar Modes ?

The entire major scale contains 7 smaller scales, known as the GUITAR MODES. Each mode starts on a different degree, 1 through 7. This means we have 7 guitar modes.

If you don’t know what degrees are, read this article about degrees, notes and intervals and how to view a scale from 3 points of view.

Each mode has a specific name, such as Ionian or Aeolian. Each mode is also a specific type of scale, such as major or minor.

guitar modes

The Ionian mode is the PURE MAJOR scale, because it starts on the first degree. As mentioned earlier the first degree indicates the starting point or home base of a song that is in a major key.

The Ionian mode is the Major scale we all know.

The Aeolian mode is the PURE MINOR scale, because it starts on the sixth degree. The sixth degree is the starting point or home base for a song that’s in a minor key.

The Aeolian mode is the classic minor  scale.

How do i play the guitar modes ?

There are countless possible ways to play each of the modes, in this article i am going to show you the guitar shapes for playing the modes so you can practice them.

Take a look at the following:

  • Any scale that starts at the first degree of the entire major scale and travels through the degrees to the next first degree, is an Ionian mode.
  • Any scale that starts at the second degree and travels through the degrees to the next second degree, is a Dorian mode.
  • Any scale that starts at the third degree and travels through the degrees to the next third degree, is a Phrygian mode and so on.

We have the same notes, the only difference is the  degree we start to play the scale from.

If we chose the note C for example, the guitar modes would look something like this:

guitar modes1 stands for Half – Step and 2 stands for Whole – Step

The name of the mode is given by the way the intervals success during from one octave to another.

POWER TIP: Take each mode and play it on one string, this is probably the best way to get used to playing the modes.

By playing the guitar modes on one string, you will be able HEAR and LEARN the intervals that build each guitar mode much easier and much faster.

The most used 2 Shapes  for playing the major and minor scales

All the scales have an extended shape and a shorter one. I named them like this for the simple fact that they are probably the most used shapes for playing a major or a minor scale.

Read on and you will see how well they blend together.

For the major type scales, if you play 2 notes on the string with the tonic, you will have the short shape, if you start with 3 notes, then you have the extended shape.

For example here we have the C major Short Shape:guitar modes

And C major extended shape:

guitar modes

For the minor type scales, if you play 3 notes on the string with the tonic, you will have the short shape, if you start with 2 notes, then you have the extended shape.

This is C minor short shape :

guitar modes

And C minor extended shape:

guitar modes

Combined, you have 2 octave 5 strings scale run.

Look at C major ( it starts with extended shape and ends up with short shape )

guitar modes

And C minor ( it starts with the short shape and ends up with the extended shape)

guitar modes

What is the purpose of the short and extended shapes concerning the guitar modes?

This are just 2 of the common approaches to guitar scales.  You could experiment with starting the scale with 1 note per string, or even 4. This way you will develop new patterns and ways to visualize the scale.

The more you experiment with them, the more ideas will flow into your mind when playing a solo.

How to practice these guitar modes approaches ?

Start with the root note and start building the scale.

There are 7 basic notes and by knowing the intervals between them, all you have to do is just start experimenting with different shapes.

That is how the short and extended shapes were constructed.

The shapes for the 7 guitar modes

For the purpose of this article i am going to show you the modes starting with 3 notes on the string with the tonic and i am going to use the C major scales with all it’s guitar modes.

Ionian Mode

guitar modes

Dorian Mode

guitar modes

Phrygian Mode

guitar modes

Lydian Mode

guitar modes

Mixolydian Mode

guitar modes

Aeolian Mode

guitar modes

Locrian Mode

guitar modes

 

Play each shape at least 10 times until you move to another one.

This is the only way you will learn them and make them become second nature to you.

If you want to learn more aditional information about the guitar modes and their aplication you should take a look at th guitar scale mastery program.

 

Guitar Learning Tips – Guitar Modes

 

 

2 Responses to “Guitar Modes – The Guitar Modes of the Major Scale”

  • smoker_dave says:

    Not sure what’s going on here. In your table of modes, it states that the pure minor scale of C is made up of “A B D E F G A” yet in your guitar neck chart below that it shows the C minor scale as containing “D# G# and A#”.

    Quite confusing..

    • apajr says:

      No, it is not confusing. Read careful.

      In that table is it written the the Aeolian Mode has those notes. The Aeolian mode is the relative minor of a major scale (ionian mode).

      The relative minor is a minor 3rd lower than the Root note.

      In the C major scale case, the relative minor of C is A.

      C minor is the relative minor for D# Major.

      So C Aeolian is available for D# Ionian.

      Another example for the table you asked me about:

      C = ionian
      D = dorian
      E = Phrygian
      F = lydian
      G = Mixolydian
      A = Aeolian
      B = Locrian

      Hope this helped, 10x for asking. If you have any other questions feel free to email me at nicolaepauleugen@yahoo.com

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