A couple years back I was learning the modes across 6 strings. I went out of my way to learn all 7 of them and memorised them all as separate and non-interchangeable entities... However there were a few concepts and reoccurring themes I noticed when I studied it all more thoroughly.
When getting around the fretboard using your standard diatonic scales and/or modes, it's important to remember that there's only 3 possible shapes for 3 notes per string scale patterns. Knowing this, and memorising the order that these shapes occur made modes and scales a lot easier for me.
The 3 shapes used in diatonic scales:
Shape 1 (M) Middle finger shape: Root, semi tone, full tone (Pointer, Middle, Pinky)
Shape 2 (R) Ring finger shape: Root, full tone, semi tone (Pointer, Ring, Pinky)
Shape 3 (S) Spread fingers shape: Root, full tone, full tone (Pointer, Spread Middle, Spread Pinky)
Here's the pattern I devised that shows the order relative to all modes.
R R S S S M M R R S S S M M
The pattern only works if you're ascending from the sixth string (low "E") to the first string (high "E"). If you wished to work from high to low in a descending manner then the pattern would be reversed.
See below for the pattern for 6 String Modes ascending (In any key)
This formula also works if you start an ascending run from the 5th, 4th, 3rd and second string if you know roughly what key you're in.
Check out this vid too:
Hope this has helped guys! Please leave comments and any questions!
By Chris Zoupa
Ionian: S S M M R R
Dorian: R S S S M M
Phrygian: M R R S S S
Lydian: S M M R R S
Mixolydian: S S S M M R
Aeolian: R R S S S M
Locrian: M M R R S S