Dive into the fascinating world of guitar modes with this easy-to-follow guide! Learn the various types of guitar modes and boost your playing abilities!

Exploring guitar modes can be an interesting and rewarding journey for guitarists of all skill levels. From the Major Scale to the Pentatonic Scale, this guide will help you understand different types of guitar modes so that you can develop your own unique playing style.

What Are Guitar Modes?

Guitar modes are scales that have been modified so that a different set of notes received the emphasis. A single mode can be created from any major scale and as there are seven notes in each key, there are seven modes for each major scale.

By understanding these modes and how to apply them to your playing, you’ll be able to create more interesting music and explore new musical possibilities.

Ionian Mode - The Major Scale You Already Know

The Ionian mode is simply the major scale that you’ve likely been playing for years. It’s composed of a root note, followed by the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh degrees of the scale – just like a normal major scale.

The intervals between each note are also the same; Whole Step (W), Whole Step (W), Half Step (H), Whole Step (W), Whole Step (W), Whole Step (W), Half Step (H). Keep in mind that as this is the basis of all other modes, this one should be considered essential in your playing!

Dorian Mode – Minor And Modal

The Dorian mode is a great way to introduce yourself to minor scales. It’s built similarly to the Ionian mode with one difference; the third degree of the scale is lowered.

This shift results in a minor flavor, giving it a bright but slightly melancholic tone. Like the Ionian and all other modes, this one can be achieved from any root note – just lower that third!

Phrygian Mode – Dark And Metallic Sounds

The Phrygian mode is the third of what we call “church modes” because of their history in the Christian Church. It has a distinctive half-step between the second and third degrees, and similar to the Dorian mode can be created from any root note.

However, unlike the Dorian which sounds dark yet bright, the Phrygian is darker and almost metallic sounding with greater focus on its minor tonality.

Lydian Mode – Bright, Colorful, And Dramatic Melodies

Another mode worth exploring when learning guitar is the Lydian mode. Like other church modes, it starts with a major tonality, but the fourth degree is that of a major rather than minor as found on other modes.

This gives the scale a brighter sound and often creates more dramatic melodies. It's also used in many progressive rock songs, especially if you want to push your solos an extra octave higher.

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