How to Use The Modes

Most guitarists learn the modes as different positions of the major scale up and down the neck. This is a great way to unlock the fretboard but it isn't the whole story on the modes.

In this lesson you'll learnvhow to hear the diatonic modes as different colors by playing them all from the same root.

To start we will play a series of modes all starting on C, and compare the different major and minor sounds:

  • C Major (Ionian) - the typical major scale
  • C Lydian - major scale with a #4, dreamy sound
  • C Mixolydian - major scale with a b7, blues/rock/funk major
  • C Natural Minor (Aeolian) - the typical minor scale
  • C Dorian - minor scale with a raised 6, blues/rock/funk minor
  • C Phrygian - minor scale with a b2

I'll also show you how you can make a simple two chord groove for each specific mode.

Finally we look at how the modes are derived in traditional music theory:

  1. Ionian (major)
  2. Dorian (minor)
  3. Phrygian (minor)
  4. Lydian (major)
  5. Mixolydian (major)
  6. Aelioan (minor)
  7. Locrian (diminished)

Be sure to check out the lesson worksheet for a series of shapes to practice!

Practice Beat:

Groove in C - 120 BPM
Guitar Tactics is a project by Rami Atassi