Advanced Scales

Learn all modes

Understand music to master the guitar

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Examples of modal exercises

Everything you need to master the modes

On this page, you’ll find a link to all the video lessons you need to learn the modes.

Before you get your teeth into these you must first understand what a mode is, as well as know all your pentatonic scale shapes.

Once this is in place there is nothing stopping you from entering this deeper level of musical consciousness where you can fully engage with music harmonically.

With this in mind, let’s first find out, what is a mode?

What is a mode?

A mode is a part of a scale. Using the major scale (Ionian) as your starting point, all other modes can be found. This is a great way to understand how they came about and how to use them.

However, to learn modes on the guitar there is a much better way.

Go to What is a mode?

Major Pentatonic modes

The Major Pentatonic can act as a framework to build all the major modes. That’s the Ionian, Lydian and Mixolydian mode.

If you can already play a new Major Pentatonic when a chord change, adding a couple of notes and going modal really isn’t that difficult.

Go to Major pentatonic modes.

Minor Pentatonic modes

Aeolian, Dorian, and Phrygian are very similar, the most important thing to remember is that if you can swap minor pentatonic scales, you can swap modes.

All you need to know is which chord has what scale connected to it.

Go to Minor pentatonic modes.

Ionian – Chord I

Ionian is the modal name for the major scale. You already know it, it’s the Do – Re – Mi – Fa – So – La – Ti – De one.

To learn it on the guitar you need to start with a chord shape, add a Major Pentatonic, and then two more intervals. Ionian will only appear naturally over chord I.

Go to Ionian.

Dorian – Chord II

We can easily build the Dorian mode from the Minor Pentatonic, which is great as you already know it!

Most commonly, you can use the Dorian mode whenever you play over chord II, which appears in most songs.

Go to Dorian.

Phrygian – Chord III

phrygian-thumbThe third mode that comes from the major scale is the flamenco sounding Phrygian mode.

Just like with Dorian we build the mode by adding notes to the Minor Pentatonic. Most commonly, you use the Phrygian mode over chord III.

Go to Phrygian.

Phrygian Dominant – Chord IIIx

This is the odd one out, a Phrygian Dominant scale is connected with chord IIIx, which comes from chord III (Phrygian).

Just like the chord has gone from minor to major, so has the scale.

Go to Phrygian Dominant.

Lydian – Chord IV

Next, we get Lydian. This is a scale that appears when you play from chord IV. (Ionian was chord I)

Similar to Ionian in that we build it by first playing a chord shape, then a Major Pentatonic, then add two notes.

Go to Lydian.

Mixolydian – Chord V

Mixolydian is next, also very similar to the Ionian mode (that’s the major scale again).

When practicing this we again first play a chord shape, a major pentatonic, and then the last two notes to create this mode which will always work over chord V.

Go to Mixolydian.

Aeolian – Chord VI

To learn the Aeolian mode we start by first playing a Minor Pentatonic shape.

From this point, we add the two intervals that give the Aeolian scale its distinctive sound.

The Aeolian mode is also known as the natural minor scale or just “minor”.

Go to Aeolian.

Related Pages


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

The advanced songs require you to learn 7th note chords, arpeggios, and modal scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fret board.

Go to Advanced guitar course.


These are pretty advanced exercises. You’ll be playing 7th note chords, arpeggios and modes all over the neck.

But don’t fret – As you’ve already mapped out the fret board with pentatonic scales and barre chords, extending the concept is actually really simple.

Go to Advanced guitar exercises.


You can learn how to play these advanced songs on the acoustic guitar.

Angels, Baby Won’t You Please Come Home, Blackbird, Cannonball, Don’t Wait Too Long, I Shot The Sheriff, Over The Rainbow, Roxanne, Scarborough Fair, Sunshine Of Your Love, Take Me To The River, Tears In Heaven, and Wish You Were Here.

Go to Advanced acoustic songs.

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Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

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