Improving Modes With Pentatonics - With Andrew Wasson

Any Major Scale Mode can be developed much faster by first moving into the mode by way of the corresponding quality pentatonic scale. This will better ease students into the overall sound of the mode at an accelerated pace...

Ultimate Guitar
Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers questions each week from off of his Guitar Blog website... This weeks question...

Q) I'm getting my head wrapped around modes right now, and I've decided to start with Phrygian. Something that has me confused is getting the mode to sound flowing when I use it for improvising. I read in an old interview with Kirk Hammett that by using modes along side of the Pentatonic Scales it can be a good way to phrase with them. Can you make a lesson showing how to do this? I'd like to be able to use this in my own practice. Thanks!
Ken - Edmonton, AB. CANADA

Video: Improving Modes with Pentatonics

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A) When guitar students first begin getting into the study of modes, one extremely common transitional practice method is to the use of the corresponding tonality Pentatonic Scale as a way to ease into the sound of the mode. 

For example, since the Phrygian Mode is a Minor Tonality Mode, the corresponding Pentatonic Scale would also be of the Minor Tonality. In other words, this means that we can use, "The Minor Pentatonic," to ease into the phrasing and overall sound of the Phrygian Mode. Other modes can also be covered in the same way.

Aside from learning how to blend the sounds of the Pentatonic along with the mode, one of the most important concepts for all modal study is establishing a solid background Jam-Track chord progression that supports the mode we want to develop.

In the video lesson, I demonstrate this approach using the Phrygian mode. I begin by establishing a Phrygian chord progression. Then, I work through three melodies working outward from the Pentatonic, until finally reaching using all of the tones of the Phrygian mode.

About the Author:
Andrew Wasson is a 1992 Graduate of Hollywood California's Guitar Institute of Technology (G.I.T.). He has operated his Canadian Music School; Creative Guitar Studio, for the last 20+ years... teaching thousands of guitarists both in studio sessions, and through his popular YouTube Channels & websites. Hundreds of more FREE lessons available at

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Holy crap! An article on modes that actually illustrates the mode in a modal context (rather than a key)! Nice work.
    Thanx for the lesson, very usefull. I´ve been doing the same with the Aolian mode, getting "comfortable" with those 2 extra notes.