JRS Survival Guitar Lesson 17: Tying the Modes Together

This is where we stitch all those modes together, creating a huge pattern covering the entire neck of the guitar.

To create this pattern, I took each mode and layed it out on the guitar. The previouse mode examples used the key of C because that key has no sharps or flats. However, for this example, I chose to put the pattern in the key of G Major because it lays out well on the neck. Don’t get too angry with me! The mode shapes don’t change if you change keys–you just start the modes at different places on the neck. All that memorization work will pay off. Keep reading!

So, in the key G Major, the notes are G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G. Each mode then begins on one of these notes (as you’ve seen in the previous lessons). Here’s a table showing what I mean.

Key of G Major Mode
First Note is G Ionian
Second Note is A Dorian
Third note is B Phrygian
Fourth note is C Lydian
Fifth note is D Mixolydian
Sixth note E Aeolian
Seventh note is F# Lochrian
Eighth note is G (the octave) (Begin again with Ionian)


The first thing you’ll probably notice is that the Modes overlap each other quite a bit. I’ve noted where each Mode begins, so hopefully you can pick out the Mode hidden in the larger pattern.

Actually memorizing this pattern as shown isn’t totaly necessary. Instead of trying to memorize this huge pattern, memorize each Mode, keeping in mind their order on the guitar. Here’s that order one more time: Ionian, Dorian, Phyrgian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Lochrian.

Remember that all the Modes are part of the same scale (the Major Scale). Remember that each Mode starts on a successive note in the Major scale.

In a way, what you’ve learned is how to play the Major scale all over the neck. The Modes are convenient ways of playing the Major scale in positions on the neck.

You now have the tools you need to play all over the neck in any key. If you want to play in the key of A Major, for example, simply start your Ioninan mode on the first note in the key of A Major (which is A). This corresponds to starting the first Mode, Ionian, at the fifth fret.

“What?”, you say? All that work and those ridiculously named Modes just to learn how to play a Major Scale?! Patience, Grasshopper, there is much more here than meets the eye.

For now, trust me that what you have learned will be useful. Our next lessons will cover some new ground required to fully master the use of this scale. That ground (and the lessons), will be called Chord Theory. Yes, even guitar players need a little theory. I promise it won’t be too painful!

So, try tying the Modes together. It will probably take you awhile to get totally comfortable with them, but the effort is well worth it. Conquer the Modes, and you will have made some giant steps toward mastery of the neck!








Sonivox MI