Exploring Modes on the Guitar


This diagram shows all notes of the G major scale between the 2nd and 15th fret. Notes of the G major pentatonic are colored green, except for the root, which is blue. Using each note of the major scale as a tonic yields the seven different modes

  1. Ionian/Major (G),
  2. Dorian (A),
  3. Phrygian (B),
  4. Lydian (C),
  5. Mixolydian (D),
  6. Aeolian/Minor (E),
  7. Locrian (F#).

If we start playing each mode on the lower E string and try to play without stretching or moving our hand too much, we naturally end up with five different positions: one position starting from each note of the pentatonic scale because in two cases two modes can be played in the same position (Phrygian/Lydian and Aeolian/Locrian).

1. Position: G Ionian/Major
2. Position: A Dorian
3. Position: B Phrygian, C Lydian
4. Position: D Mixolydian
5. Position: E Aeolian/Minor, F# Locrian

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