recenty i had a lot of good advice from some people on this forum about modes, and i have done a lot of homework and now understand them to be completely different scales (thanks guys)!

i now want to learn each one and get fluent in improvising while sticking in the same mode. for this i need box diagrams (dont i?).... has anybody any good web likns to find them or any other tips on how to ensure i remain in the same mode accross the neck?

They are not really completely different scales. When you take the parent scale and play one of its seven modes, you are still playing every note of that parent scale, but just using a new note for the root. Each mode will give the scale a certain sound, for example if you take the 6th (Aeolian) mode of a major scale, you come to its relative minor, and all the Aeolian mode is is a natural minor scale. The other modes will give a specific sound that may work best for certain type of chords.

Staying in one mode the whole time will make you sound stale after a while, its not very hard to figure out the notes of the modes. Take you parent scale, learn the notes of that, then start on a note within said parent scale that is not the parent scale's root, and find those same notes of the parent scale, but start on a new note.

Take the C major scale.
C Major (C D E F G A B C)
Now to play its 5th mode (mixolydian) you would start on the G
G Mixolydian (G A B C D E F G)
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thanks, my main misunderstanding is this... if all modes contain the same notes, they ultimately make the same pattern on the guitar neck..
so if i choose to not just play the scale up and down (in this case i could remain in one mode- i understand that), but instead tried to move around and play music, how can i keep the feel of that mode, when i am using the box patterns shared by all the modes?
Well they don't make the same pattern as the other modes. Say for a major scale you must remain with the W-W-H-W-W-W-H pattern, so its going to change a little. But you can move through the different modes quite easily since they all contain the same notes. Its just based upon which interval is used as the root note:

1 - Ionian
2 - Dorian
3 - Phrygian
4 - Lydian
5 - Mixolydian
6 - Aeolian
7 - Locrian

Here's the site I learned it form. It shows you the patterns as well.

You can always move it up the fretboard remaining in that mode, instead of playing it up and down, you play it across.

My advice is to learn the patterns, get some backing tracks with different feel to them and practice what sounds good, switching modes, staying in one, etc...
2004 Fender American HSS Strat
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Schecter C-1 Hellraiser FR
Epi LP Classic
Epi G-400
Yamaha acoustic
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Vox Wah
Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer
i picked up this sweet ass reference book from guitar center that has all the modes and keys in it and over 180 scales in it
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I Think It Is Beginning To Fit. I Used To Think That, You Could Choose To Use, C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian Etc To Solo Over A Particular Chord Progression - But They Are All The Same Notes And That Confused Me.

in practice, would the choice be C ionian, Cdorian, or C phrygian etc??? this would make more sense to me because i can clearly see a difference in the notes between these scales so i can understand why they sound different?
Last edited by Almann1979 at Mar 3, 2008,
Modes are determined by the tonal center of what you're playing over. So in the simplest sense, just say you're soloing over a C bass note. You could play over it in any of the C modes and you'll notice the way each sounds. An easy way to do this is to hit your low E string and then let it ring out while you play the notes of different E modes.

Where it gets more complex is when you start playing over more complex bass lines or chord progressions. Then you start to get more and more limited in which modes you can use and still sound good.

I posted an example of a simple use of modes here:


not sure if it will help you, but it's an example of a simple use of modes to give an idea of the flavor of the lydian one in particular.

I like think of each mode as a different key. Just like C major is a key or C minor, to me C lydian is also a key and it has certain chords in an order unique to it. It makes it easier for me to understand that way.
thats a great reply thanks. can i ask some yes or no questions?

all modes have the same box pattern, just starting from different places on the neck, like A aeolian has he same pattern as C ionian??

a good way to choose the mode to use is to look at which chord a progression resloves on, and if it is the 5th, you use the 5th mode of that scale?

so, in the following instance a chord progression in C resolves on an E, so C phrygian is the mode of choice, which is also the same box pattern as the A major scale, which is also the same box pattern as the F#m scale, meaning i could use the F#m scale to solo over this progression??

so... in terms of memorizing patterns, i only need to know one pattern for the whole neck (ignoring blues notes), but i have to ge used to where i start that pattern from???
1) Yes - all modes of the major scale have the same pattern because they're all based off of that scale.

2) Not sure what you mean, but it doesn't sound right. Could be but I'm not exactly sure what you're asking. The way I figure out what mode to chose is by the tonal center and the notes of the chords. The more chords you start to add the more you limit your choices.

3) No - If the song is in C then it's in C, not C phrygian. If it's tonal center is E and you're playing in C (as in using the notes of the C major scale) then you've got E phrygian. See this handy chart: