So I've read a lot of threads on the internet about modes, and I keep coming back around full circle to being confused. Do I need to memorize every box for a mode all across the fretboard and that is the best way to learn a mode? And I need to do that for every mode...

Or is there some other way? I'm fine with memorizing the boxes for every mode across the fretboard if I need to. I already memorized the pentatonic scale boxes all across the fretboard, so this would basically be like doing that 7 times over. It just kinda seems like a lot. But no complaints if that is the best way.

Also whats the best way to practice the pentatonic scales? My assumption is you just put on a backing track and jam to that endlessly until you're good? haha.

I'm pretty sure that what you're learning is probably not modes but just the major scale starting on a different degree. If they are trying teach you C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, etc then that's not modes and whoever wrote it knows nothing of modes.
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theogonia777 See, I'm not really understanding. I do understand the basics of music theory though, and all the stuff about parent scales and so on.

Basically what I'm trying to figure out is, do I just go and memorize this


shape, and once I've memorized each shape like that I know all the modes. Because I know that each mode isn't just the same scale starting on a different note... They each have their own unique notes. Like Lydian will have a sharp fourth, and Ionion won't have any sharps. So they can't possibly be the same scale just starting on a different note, because then you will never be able to play C Lydian, no matter what note you start on in C Major
Well, that's still not really modes. That's learning scales that, while not modes themselves, are associated with modes, but modes can't exist inside of a vacuum and so memorizing those scales doesn't teach you anything about the actual use of modes.
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theogonia777 That's my thoughts on the subject too. Memorizing isn't the right path. So what are my options? I'm dedicating heaps of time each day to getting great at guitar. I spent the last couple days memorizing all the notes on the fret board. I just don't know where to go next, and modes are one of my main source of confusion.
Modes are one of the main sources of confusion for everyone and very little music is actually modal, even if it does use an altered scale like Dorian or Mixolydian. That's not to say that such scales are not useful though because they can be and are used frequently outside of modal music.

So it doesn't hurt to understand the use of the scales in the context of improvising, such as knowing that when playing in G, you can often switch to the Mixolydian scale when an F chord is used. Or any key when bVII is used. It's common to use something like I-bVII-IV-I or bVII-IV-V for example, so if we're still in G, the second one is F-C-D. So you can use the Mixolydian scale over the F and you can use the natural major scale over the D and either over the C. I mean, technically you can play any scale you want, but in terms of harmony those scales work better with those chords for harmony due to the F vs F# in the scales and the F note in the F chord and F# in the D chord.

But if you want to get great at guitar there are always a million things to be learned that have more potential value.
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theogonia777 When you say natural major scale, you mean Ionion, aka major? I know Aeolian is natural minor. I get what you're saying about harmony and switching up what scale is being played depending on the chord it's over.

I'm all ears to what has more potential value. I know there is a lot I don't know about guitar.
The problem with when you start talking about all of these altered scales is that, technically, the Mixolydian and Lydian scales are major and the Dorian and Phrygian scales are minor. It all has to do with resolution. If the scale resolves on a major chord, it's major. Same with minor. Out of those 7 scales, you'll notice that the Locrian would have a diminished chord as the tonic but a diminished chord is not a resolution. And then there are like 100 other scales out there.

Ultimately though, it's probably more helpful to think of scales as major and minor and every other heptatonic (7 notes per octave) scale is just an altered form of the major and minor scales.

As far as what else to learn, it really depends on what you're into. Also it depends on if you're looking more for techniques or concepts and then from there using techniques to apply concepts.
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theogonia777 I get what you're saying about the heptatonic stuff. So basically focus on the major and minor scales.

I want to have really great technique for sure. I'm about to start learning an Iron Maiden solo off youtube from the guitarist chris zoupa's channel. I figure that will help me further build my finger ability for now. I could just keep learning Metallica, Maiden, and A7X solos, but as cool as that is I want to also be able to play my own stuff that's melodic in nature.

Opeth, Satriani, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree. Being able to play and write stuff like that is my educational goal.
Well, a lot of the bands you listed are proggy, so that means they use the things that a let of young aspiring metal guitarists neglect like being able to play chords. A lot of prog bands make use of sus, add, and extended chords. A lot of people describe those chords as sounding more complex on an emotional level than simple major and minor chords, which makes sense since sus chords are unresolved and extended chords can be seen as containing more than one triad.

It's important to know the difference between sus, add, and extended chords even though they are similar. For example, a sus2 chord, an add9 chord, a 9 chord, and a maj9 chord all contain the 2nd/9th note of the scale. But do you know what makes the chords different?

It's also important to know how to construct these chords on the guitar neck both vertically and horizontally. Those are the two types of harmony from a temporal perspective. Vertical harmony is harmony at a given point, such as a full chord or a dyad/double stop. Horizontal harmony is an implied harmony made up of individual notes rather than played simultaneously, ie an arpeggio or the applied harmony of a melody. Knowing how to not only play chords but also being able to play arpeggios and melodic figures based on chords is vital to good lead playing in many genres such as progressive rock, jazz, and country where soloing is largely built on the use of chord tones rather than using the overall scale of the key that is commonly used in rock and blues, although progressive rock often uses the latter approach as well.

Once you can create chords, you can begin to incorporate different techniques such as rolls (played with hybrid picking or cross picking), sweep picking, and tapping into playing these chords, which is a big part of shredding in a more proggy or jazz fusion context.

That's just a couple of ideas. There are a million and a half others.
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theogonia777 Wow. You really know your stuff man. I really don't know what the difference is between those chords you listed. I've watched videos here or there about this stuff, but it's still a great mystery.

I haven't heard of vertical or horizontal harmony until now. I understand the basic idea of arpeggios and sweep picking. Sounds like there's so much to learn. I understand that you can build chords with triads. From there you can put on a 7th degree, a 9th, and so on. Even omit degrees, like the 5th in a 7 chord.
So here is how you put 2s and 9s in chords: We'll make them all C chords.

sus chords replace the 3rd with a 2nd or 4th. In this case we're going with second, which gives us 1,2,5 or CDG. add chords add a note beyond the 7th without including a 7th. Since we have add9, the degrees are 1,3,5,9 and the notes are CEGD or CDEG for easier comparison to the sus2 where the difference is the presence or replacement of the 3rd. A 9 chord adds a 9th to a 7th chord, which is 1,3,5,b7 and the a 9 which gives us C(D)EGBbD. And the maj9 uses a 9 as the extension of a maj7 chord which includes a major 7 instead of a b7, so 1,3,5,7,9 or C(D)EGBD.

There are different terms for them that I think might be common. Maybe implied instead of horizontal.
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From my reasoning it looks like an a 9 chord is a mix of a sus chord and an add 9. So I understand how to build some of these more complex chords.. At least in my head I understand the theory of it. And of course where the scale you're playing, what chord it resolves on somehow affects whether the scale is major or minor.

So when you're playing a scale over a chord, it's just the notes of that scale and you're constantly switching it up as the chord progression goes. I'm trying to make sense of this all. The chords are making sense right now. What are your suggestions of where to take this next? What's the next logical thing to learn?
Secrxt Agent There are some scales that can only be used (realistically) to set up an approaching chord  (for example, the diminished scale, altered scale, mixolydian b9, b6), and some scales that are used primarily for writing tuines (melodies, chord progressions built from the pitches in the scales).  This latter group includes major scale, and all its modes apart from locrian (locrian is very very rarely used for this purpose).

Learning scale involves three activities:

1/ knowing the intervals in the scale,
2/ knowing where to locate these intervals on instrument.
3/ for the second category of scale, understanding how to USE the scale musically to create music that feels like it focuses around the tonal centre chosen for the scale.  For the first category, knowing ho to use it musically to set up the oncoming chord  (or even re-setup the current chord, for a groove say)

3/ can be summarised, at a very high level, as knowing the tendency of each interval (i.e. if a given scale note is played, does it set up any expectation in the listener as to what ought to come next) and how importantly it ranks in creating a melody and the chord type that is built off that interval as a root, and how that chord itself setups expectation.  There is a lot more to it than this, but it's the prequisite.  Some people acquire this by listening to enough music and copying it to get a feel for these tendencies and learn that way.  Other folk are shown this by teachers, books ...  just realise that the above is the basis for a gazillion tunes, but an awful lot of liberties are taken (adding pitches that aren't in the scale, or chords not in the scale ... all because it sounds good.  And that is the only real requirement of music ... it needs to sound good ... and it also needs to make sort of sense to the listeners (the expectations mentioned above).  

Unfortunately, 99.9% of players, as they want to get into music (especially on guitar) home in 2/, kind of.   But 2/ usually ends up as "knowing the shape(s) for the scale, which of itself is really not helpful.

Modes of the major scale fall in the second category, but 
1/ the chords often change very slowly (e.g 8 bars of Am7 with A Dorian, 8 bars of Bbm7 with Bb Dorian) ... aka a "modal progression"
2/ there are short cascades of chords that set up a tonal centre (functional harmony ... like Gm7 C7 Fmaj7 E7#9 ... back to Am7), interspersed with 1/
3/ there can be standard chord progression using chords of the mode ... the only "problem" there is by definition there is no dominant 7 chord found a p5th above the tonal centre.  So itr makes for a "weaker" progression without that chord there too set up the I chord again.  Two solutions there ... alter whatever chord is at that p5 to become a dominant 7 of some sort, or two, just say "who cares ... I like the overall  sound".  The theory guys do not call this a "modal progression".

As for whether to chase the chords melodically (soloing) ... you absolutely don't have to ... you just need to be aware of potential clashes.  You get a clash when a melody pitch is a semitone above a chord pitch.   If you do chase them, concentrate on the 3rd and 7th, as appropriate to the chord type, as important picthes to bring out (play longer duration, or at rhythmically strong points)

 For example, with major scale, the 4 of the scale clashes with the I chord (unless suspended), all other scale notes are fine.  All are fine with the ii chord.  The 4 of the scale clashes with the ii chord.  The 1 and 4 clash with iii chord.  All is fine with IV chord.  The 1 of the scale clashes with V.  The 4 of the scale clashes with the vi.   vii chord is rarely used.  

You can see the common villain of the piece is the 4 of the major scale.  The 1 is surprisingly slightly badly behaved!  

Just because a clash is there, doesn't mean you can't play it ... you can so long as you remove the clash (if you want to) by either going down a semitone, or up to the next scale note.

Hence, a lot of melodies can be built primarily using the most important pitches in the scale (the 1, 3, and 5), filling in around them, and especially at high speed.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 27, 2017,
jerrykramskoy A lot of what you are saying about modal progressions and clashes makes sense. However, for clashes does it have to be a semitone above only? or can it also be a semi tone below?

What can I do to avoid falling into the trap of memorizing boxes? This is why I was thinking I would just memorize all the notes on the fretboard really, really well. That way I would just intuitively know a scale on the fretboard by just knowing what notes it's made out of without the need to ever really learn a box shape. I have no idea if that's actually the right way to do it though?

So, if you go to remove a clash by going down a semitone, wouldn't that technically change the scale that you're playing to an entirely different scale? It seems like this circles back to modes
Quote by Secrxt Agent
jerrykramskoy A lot of what you are saying about modal progressions and clashes makes sense. However, for clashes does it have to be a semitone above only? or can it also be a semi tone below?

What can I do to avoid falling into the trap of memorizing boxes? This is why I was thinking I would just memorize all the notes on the fretboard really, really well. That way I would just intuitively know a scale on the fretboard by just knowing what notes it's made out of without the need to ever really learn a box shape. I have no idea if that's actually the right way to do it though?

So, if you go to remove a clash by going down a semitone, wouldn't that technically change the scale that you're playing to an entirely different scale? It seems like this circles back to modes

Yes, a semitone either side ... but the semitone above seems more "vicious".  You can try this really easily ... stick on any music (radio, ...) and pick up your guitar and just guess as a note to play.  If it sounds edgy, just slide a semitone up or down on that same string. 

I would advise learning intervals (and gradually learn how to find the various pitches by name ... and even then I'd still recommend knowing how to find octaves and unisons on the neck for that purpose).  

The reason is that music is all about relationships BETWEEN the pitches involved (be that in a chord maybe created across several instruments, and melody, and chord progression).  What's going on musically is being created by the various intervals involved from the tonal centre ... on guitar, changing key would mean reestablishing the same intervals, but from the new key centre (tonal centre).  The interval shapes involved are very easy to learn.  

Whereas learning stuff my pitch names is a lot harder, and worse, the same pitch will have a different musical effect in different musical contexts (i.e. because of the interval that pitch is forming with the current tonal centre).

This may help you ... https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/drastically_reduce_learning_time_with_intervals_part_2.html  

There's nothing wrong with the box shapes, so long as you recognise the intervals present in the shape,  and the sounds these will create.  Otherwise you can end up kind of hoping for the best :-)   I still "see" these shapes, but only as rough landmarks, if you like ... I am as likely to play horizontally along string(s) as vertically across, because this affords more freedom and a greater range of sound and expressiveness.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 27, 2017,
your problem is that you've been taught the shapes without any explanations of what they are. there are, really, only 2 main things you need to know about music: tension and resolution.

tension is the establishment of dissonance, either through tone, note choice, time, or rhythm, while resolution is how that tension finds peace with itself. the more adventurous you are in establishing tension, the harder it will be to follow without a satisfying and telegraphed resolution. likewise, if your music is all harmonious and there's no element of surprise, people will get bored. finding a unique balance between the two is where you establish your voice.

another point to make: note choice is not everything. it's only one element of roughly equal weight to tone, accents, rhythm, orchestration, etc., but guitarists like to overprioritize their note choices because, compared to a lot of other instruments, it's pretty easy to make a guitar sound good if you're hitting roughly the right notes.

in any case, if you want to understand scales, you need to understand your intervals in relationship to one another. if you know what all of the 12 notes do in relation to a temporary "parent" note, you don't need to think in scales at all. you'll begin to see chord tones, and the things between them.

here are your intervals:

1 root - absolute relationship with itself

b2 - dissonant relationship with the 1. almost never used outside of stepwise motion; because of its distance from the tonic, if they're played together, the two tones split the difference and become a microtone in between. this jarring effect can be useful, but again, rarely utilized.

2 - neutral relationship with the 1. neither supports nor really takes away from the tonic when they're used together, but whole tone motion is incredibly important to recognize and understand on the basis of individual interaction (rather than solely the relationship with the 1). this is used in sus2 chords as well as 9ths, but typically it's more of an ornament, or used to make a chord "pull" a little bit less to a particular direction

b3 - strong relation to 1, particularly when stacked with a 5th. this is an interval that will be essential in establishing tonality. when you build chords, typically it starts with a 1, 3, and 5, and since the 1 and 5 will always be neutral, this is what differentiates major and minor. however, because of its strong relationship with the 1, it is likely to cause problems with other notes within a chord. additionally, if you hit a major 3rd over a minor chord, it's going to sound incredibly dissonant.

3 - strong relation to 1. same idea as b3, but, yknow, major.

4 - strong relation to 1. this, like the 1 and 5, doesn't change depending on the chord you're playing, but you're rarely going to hit the 4th over the 1 chord unless you're playing a sus4 chord (or an 11 chord, which, again, is fairly rare in most music). within a chord progression, though, it often functions as a subdominant, basically as a set-up for the 5 chord, which leads back to the 1. for example, in an incredibly cookie cutter progression, you'll go Cmaj, Fmaj, Gmaj, Cmaj, and it'll sound good (albeit cliché

(subnote: sus2 and sus4 chords are very helpful for establishing tension. basically, they're like a regular triad, but instead of 1-3-5, you build them 1-2-5 or 1-4-5, which makes the tonality questionable. if you do this tastefully, it can be a really useful accent mark in a progression or serve as a voiceleading tool)

b5 - incredibly dissonance against 1. remember when i said, if you play a b2 and a 1 at the same time and nothing else, it splits the difference and the "root" is somewhere in the middle? the b5 has a similar relationship. it lies directly in between the root and the octave, which creates uncertainty. uncertainty is "bad," but, used tastefully, you can get a lot of mileage out of this. it's often used as a passing tone, especially in blues.

5 - incredibly strong relationship with the 1. this is your classic set-up chord to resolve. additionally, the 5 as an interval is pretty much always going to sound good, as it's a fundamental tone in most chords. essentially, when you use a chord, the 1 has to be supported and rooted, otherwise the 1 could be another note...it's a little confusing to explain, but basically, if the chord isn't cemented as being a particular chord in context, the "1" can be a different note depending on how the chord functions. the 5 serves as a counterweight to keep the 1 stable with its strong relationship, basically.

b6 - weak relationship to the tonic. this is another tonality note, but less significant than the 3rd (unless you're playing with inversions, but i won't over complicate things). in general, if it's a minor chord, you'll hit this note. if it's a major chord, you'll hit the major 6th. the "dorian" scale is just the minor scale with a major 6th instead of a minor one, but again, if you know what each note does in context, that really doesn't matter 99.9999999% of the time. if you learned a new scale name for every accidental, you'd go insane

6 - weak relationship to the tonic. same boat as the b6.

b7 - medium relationship to the tonic. you'll see this a lot in dominant 7th chords - essentially, it's a 1, 3, 5, b7. this is because the major 7, being right next to the 1, acts similarly to the b2. it just doesn't sound good in conjunction. again, you'll use this in your minor scales, and if you're playing over a dominant chord, you're gonna use this instead of the 7 (this would be "mixolydian")

7 - strong dissonance with the tonic. you won't use this in chords too often. however, as i said above, tension serves resolution, so using it as a voice lead is very effective.

8ve - the cycle starts again. this is the 1

play all these notes in relationship to each other. then play a major chord and play different notes over it. the boxes you're learning are a short-cut to training your ear to recognize intervals, but there are no short-cuts. you need to learn to match your ear to the fretboard, and learning how the intervals sound is the most fundamental part of that. once you get good at recognizing different intervals, you'll be able to learn music by ear - simple music, at first, but nonetheless.

i'll also recommend miles.be - this is an ear trainer that will help you learn to recognize intervals.
modes are a social construct
jerrykramskoy I'll check out that article. Intervals will be my next lesson then.

Hail So I have to learn all the definitions of these intervals and what they mean for the music. Then I can use that information to create chord progressions and solo over. I would basically just pick a tonic on the fretboard and then solo over that with the knowledge of what the intervals I'm hitting are, and what they mean for the music... And this would be a good way to train myself to be a better guitar player for the time being.

And box shapes are just a product of these intervals through the octaves.

BASICALLY, build a much stronger understanding of intervals for the time being. I CAN do. I'll also check out the ear trainer
Quote by Secrxt Agent
Intervals will be my next lesson then.

tbh, if you break it down to the barest function, pretty much all music theory that is note-based is an extension of understanding intervals in different contexts

i'd highly recommend checking out victor wooten's groove workshop DVD. a lot of people dog on wooten's music theory philosophy, but there are definitely a lot of little tidbits that'll completely change the way you think about the fretboard. i watched it when i still played guitar, and that's probably part of what made me eventually switch to bass

it's basically like 4 hours of this lol
modes are a social construct
Hail I just got off an interval lesson bender. I have a solid grasp of the theory. I've memorized a few interval shapes, but I don't want to memorize too many shapes at this moment. I want to broaden my understanding of how I would actually apply this stuff before I get too much into rote memorization in any aspect of guitar. I'll check out Victor Wootens stuff.

I think at the moment I'm just going to youtube some videos about how to solo over chords. I'll see what I can learn from there with the new ideas brought to light in this thread.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
Secrxt Agent The most important intervals to be able to hear, sing and play are those in a mjaor or minor triad. i.e, 3, b3, and 5.  So, shape wise, nail these ... that is only a handful, and takes about 5 minutes for a few days.  By doing this, you then know how to find 40% of the pitches in any diatonic scale.

For me, the critical connection came about from singing these (in exercises, like 1, 5, 1   or 1, 5, 1 5 (octave below first 5), 1,   or 5, 1 and so on, and making up simple melodies with these, and adding in the filler intervals from the major or minor scale, like 1,2,3   ... 3,2,1 ... 3,4,5 ... 5,4,3.  And of course singing the triads  in any order of intervals.

I'd  do this at any time, guitar or no guitar, a few minutes here and there, repeated often (usually in the car, stuck in traffic).  

I'd remember simple simple tunes, and sing them (or imagine them) and try to figure out the tonic, and then try amd recogniose the other intervals from the tonic. 

The great thing about these sorts of tunes is that the tonic is made very clear at or near the beginning.  

For example, if you hear G up to C, up to D, up to E, down to D, down to C, and the C's are 1/2 notes while the remander are 1/4 notes,  you clearly hear C as the tonic.  

That move from G up to C is the 5 (G) setting up the 1 (C).  Incredibly common (big hint!!!)

Singing seems to really internalise the sound, which then strengthens aural recognition ... it's a virtuous circle.  I can't stress enough how important and helpful it was for me  to make this connection (voice, ears, hands).  

If you go for this, also try to develop the ability to hear the tonic (1) in your head, at the same time as you sing or imagine the other intervals.

As to how these intevals crop up in tunes:

You'll very often find a tonic triad pitch occurring on the 1st beat (which is the strongest beat) of the bar, very often being the resolution point of what's just happened n the previous bar. ( maybe that pitch on the first beat last a longer duration, maybe there's silence after it before picking up the tune again, maybe things just carry on ... but you can almost imagine a "breath" being taken between that pitch and whatever follows as energy picks up again).

I really wouldn't be in a rush to skip these fundamentals.  They will empower the rest of your musical journey.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 28, 2017,
Quote by Secrxt Agent
Hail I just got off an interval lesson bender. I have a solid grasp of the theory. I've memorized a few interval shapes, but I don't want to memorize too many shapes at this moment. I want to broaden my understanding of how I would actually apply this stuff before I get too much into rote memorization in any aspect of guitar. I'll check out Victor Wootens stuff.

I think at the moment I'm just going to youtube some videos about how to solo over chords. I'll see what I can learn from there with the new ideas brought to light in this thread.

I highly suggest you learn some actual music that uses a given mode.  Find a solo using Dorian, for example,  and then learn it.  Those musical examples really help. You can find examples just using google. Combine that with learning the pattern and you'll have an easier time using it in context.
jerrykramskoy You're right, I shouldn't skip these fundamentals. It just seems like there are so many shapes to learn when I look at charts like this, and I don't even think that's all the interval shapes. haha.


So you're saying to learn to identify what the distance in semitones is between notes by ear (ie major 3rd, minor 3rd, perfect 5th). I'm a bit confused, are you also saying it's a good idea to be able to identify the names of the notes by ear while learning this too? (ie the G and C stuff). I will make use of the singing idea. I got nothing but time these days to practice this stuff.

reverb66 Maybe I'll find an opeth solo to learn. Or pink floyd
there really are no shapes, dude. look at your chord shapes. guess what - they're basically all the interval shapes you need to know

every chord shape you know will have a 1, 3, 5, and maybe a 7. use that to get started. when you look at the fretboard, look at the chords you can play, and figure out what intervals are in each chord. this is actually FAR faster and easier than learning the individual note names

plus you're training your ears, not your eyes.
modes are a social construct
Secrxt Agent Just learn the (b)3 and 5 to start.  These are trivial.

On any string pair apart from G,B  (for example E,A), choose any fret (e.g. fret 5) on the lower string (E string).   An interval of a 3 from the pitch at that fret is found at 1 fret back on the upper string (so, at fret 4 on the A string). 

E.g. with string pair (D,G), choose some fret on lower (D) string, (e.g fret 9) ... then the interval of a 3 from that fret is found at fret 8 on the G string.

To find the b3, just adjust the above shape back by one fret on the upper string of the pair.

So,on pair (E,A), starting at fret 5 of E string, the b3 is at fret 3 of the A string.

The above works EVERWHERE (choose ANY fret, unless you "fall off the guitar") apart from the (G,B) string pair.  

The string pair (G,B) is different.  

Now, the 3 is found on the B string at the same fret as your fret choice on the G string.  Adjust the upper string back by one fret to get the b3.

That's easy right?

5th's ...  

These can be played using 2 or 3 adjacent strings.  Small number of shapes.

see:  https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/drastically_reduce_learning_time_with_intervals_part_2.html

(An interval of a perfect 5th involves 7 semitones ... these are what are shown in the diagrams in the above lesson) 

Ear training:

No, don't try and name pitches by ear.  Just recognise the interval sound when you hear it played.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 28, 2017,
jerrykramskoy Then all I have to do right now is learn the sound of the pitches of b3 and 5. And as I get better at these eventually be able to do all the intervals. That's easy enough. And you say singing these intervals is the best way to do this. Okay, that makes sense. I read your article. It was totally helpful. Kudos to you

Also from what I'm getting here this is just more about the ear training than actually seeing the shape on the guitar? Because like I said, there's a lot of interval shapes that can be moved anywhere (except G and B). So better to be able to recognize the sound of them, starting with b3 and 5, than other potential paths.

Here's my strategy: Practice b3 and 5 for the rest of today. I'll do this by playing the shape of the interval ascending and descending, and all around the fretboard. I will also be singing the names of the intervals as I play them to help with internalizing. I will keep doing this all day every day until I know the sounds of all the intervals up to 8ve
Last edited by Secrxt Agent at Aug 28, 2017,
Hail Yeah, I get what you're saying. But it gets confusing when you look at a chord and it's got a bunch of different overlapping interval shapes in it. It's kind of like reverse music theory in a way. Instead of being told what intervals make up a chord stack, I'm physically counting the frets to find out. haha
Secrxt Agent Make sure you practice BOTH the sounds of b3 (aka "minor 3rd", or "flat 3rd") AND the 3 (aka "major 3rd", or "3rd"), alomng with the 5 ("perfect 5th")

The best way to do this is as follows.

Choose any pitch (but make sure you can comfortably sing the suggestions below, and move the pitch somewhere else if needed so you can sing comfortably.  You don't have to be spot on singing, but as close as you can.
Your chosen pitch is your choice for the TONAL CENTRE ... the other pitches will be found at the intervals of  b3 or 3 or 5 from this TONAL CENTRE.  They accomplish two purposes.... the 5 is crtical to aurally implying the tonal centre (which is always given the interval name of 1).  The 3 or b3 determines the basic flavour of the piece of music ... using 3 means we have a piece of music with a MAJOR flavour to it.  Using b3 gives that piece of music a MINOR flavour.

Using your chosen tonal centre.  I suggest initially you just stick with your choice, and don't change to other pitches as tonal centr3e.  This will let you focus on the intervals better, without introducing possible aural confusion.  Once you can do the following competently, only then start trying other tonal centres.

1/ sing or hum 1 (the tonal centre).  Then imagine  it in your minds ear.  In all the following exercises, try and hear the chosen tonal centre pitch in your mind's ear as you sing each of the pitches.  Also (harder) try and imagine both the tonal centre pitch AND the pitch your "singing" from the exercise (while actually hearing all this just in your mind's ear)

2/ Sing 1, the 5 above it, then 5.  Repeat several times.

 (Now we make use of the octave briefly.  My article covers their shapes.   Suppose you choose the pitch found at D string, fret 2. as  the tonal centre,.  This is named E3.  All other octaves, above or below that pitch, are all named with  the letter E,but the number changes to show which actual E we're talking about. ...these make up a whole family of "E"s,  all being octaves of each other.  For example, the open E bass string is an octave below your initial choice, and is also an E, named E2.   An octave above your initial choice can be found at the open treble E string, actually named E4.

Hence, you can also find an interval of a perfect 5th above any of these E's.  We have a family of these also. 

So, from the original choice at D string fret 2, the 5th above that is at fret 4 on the G string (using the shape for the p5).  And an octave below that is found at the 5th string fret 2.  We could also have got there by copnsidering the E at the open bass string, and using the p5 shape to get the 5th string, fret 2.

This is a long winded way of saying that we can think about the tonal centre as involving any of the octaves of your chosen pitch, and the other intervals as being found in any of its own octaves ... a p5 from the tonal centre is always considered a p5, no matter which octave you choose)

3/ Sing 1, the 5 above, then 1, then the 5 below.  e.g.

g:       4
d:  2        2
a:                 2

4/ Sing the 5 below, then 1.

5/ Sing the 5 below, then 1, then 5 above, then 1.

6/ Sing 1, 3, 1

7/ Sing 3, 1

8/ Sing 3, 5

9/ Sing 5, 3

10/  Sing 1, 3,  5, 3, 1

11/ Sing 1, 3, 5, 1 an octave higher, back to 5, 3, 1

Then use some passing notes ... 

12/ Sing 1, 2, 3  but keep 2 short compared to 1 and 3.   2 is found 2 semitones above 1.

13/ Sing 3, 2, 1

14/  Sing 3,4,5   but keep 4 short.  4 is found 1 semitone above 3.

15/ Sing 5,4,3

Do this as often as you can.

To practice the minor flavour ... repeat all the above, but use b3 rather than 3.

This rapidly becomes easy to do (one to a few weeks).  Give it as much or more time than practicing guitar.  

You'll soon find, having done the above, that you will start to recognise these in music you listen to, and also to be able to analyse simple tunes, like Frere Jacque.

You'll be really really well prepared for all that follows.  
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Aug 29, 2017,
Jeez, I never knew music was so complicated.... 

Apologies to those providing good info above, but - to the OP - Learn some SONGS for chrissakes.  Then it all makes sense.

You really want to understand modes?  You don't NEED to (really you don't), but if you want to, try this.https://www.reddit.com/r/musictheory/wiki/core/modes

If you still don't get it after that (maybe checking back on other topics in their FAQ for clarification), then just learn some songs. Start playing music.  Playing music both trains your ear in the best way possible, and also teaches you all you need to know about theory.  And it's fun.  Win-win-win.
jerrykramskoy What you wrote is all very good indeed. I'm going to put it to use. I'm not going to school this semester and I'm not working either, so basically I'm spending ALL day studying guitar and theory. I'm mostly learning theory these days. After I finished learning the solo to Metallica, The Unforgiven, which taught me all about pinch harmonics and helped me build my hand strength and callouses; I just felt theory was the bigger mystery.

A few days ago I spent all day for like 3 days on a fretboard trainer app learning all the notes there are and it worked really well. I can name like 40% of the notes on the fretboard now without thinking. So I do have to go back and bring that up to 100%. I realized last night though that there must also be interval training apps, and there are. So I've been on one of these apps all this morning. This app "Right Note" seems pretty good for getting my foot in the aural recognition doorway, if you will. I'm going to do this for a few days maybe, then once comfortable I'm going to move back to physically fretting and singing these intervals on the guitar. I think this is the best strategy for me right now!

jonriley64 Hey man, I'm a theory kid. What can you do. I'll checkout that article, it looks like it has good and useful information in it. I'll dive deep into songs once my thirst for understanding all this other interval, ear training, and over arching theory stuff is quenched.