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.
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:
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.
And C major extended shape:
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 :
And C minor extended shape:
Combined, you have 2 octave 5 strings scale run.
Look at C major ( it starts with extended shape and ends up with short shape )
And C minor ( it starts with the short shape and ends up with the extended shape)
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.
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