I've seen many posts on modes, and am still waiting for that "Aha!" moment to see it all fit together. I'll try to give everyone an idea where I'm at first. I can pretty much move up and down the fretboard, especially in pentatonic boxes. So, while I can do some basic blues solos, that's as far as it gets.

A much more accomplished guitarist I'm playing with suggested that I concentrate on learning my modes. I've read the articles, and "kind of" get it. If anyone can maybe point out these (probably obvious) questions (or what I think I know) to me, that would be awesome.

1) As far as I can tell, modes are the same as the scale of the key being played, except for a different root note. What makes it "root"? When I solo on my limited range of knowledge, I stick around the notes of the chords being played, particularly the note of the key itself. Is that what it means? Also, I've learned various fingerings of the same scale....do these relate to modes?

2) When soloing in a song, does it make sense to change modes with chord changes, generally, or does one typically stick with a single mode? I realize that there are no hard and fast rules, but let's say in most cases until I know the rules well enough to break them.

3) I want to keep expanding what I'm learning, but for the moment I'm looking for a way to concentrate and keep things fresh. I'm into old-school Metallica, 80's-style shredding, etc. Are there certain modes (besides Aeolian...that much I've picked up) that will be in my wheelhouse?

Someday it will snap together. Thanks for any help.
1. The root is the tonal center, the note that the chord progression resolves to. For instance, C - F - G - C, all major chords, the tonal center is C, because that is where the resolution occurs (G resolves to C). Also, all of those chords are in the key of C.

2. The first question kind of answers this.

3. No, if a chord progression is Am - G - F - G, you stay in Am the whole time.

There is a fatty article all about music theory somewhere. I wish I had the link handy, but you will learn a lot from it.