5 Mode Shapes (Fretboard Diagrams)

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Create Date March 16, 2019
Last Updated March 29, 2019

Guitar modes are learned as 5 guitar patterns (a.k.a. shapes) on the guitar fretboard.  Download this PDF so that you can easily see the how guitar modes are related to familiar chords and octave patterns.  These 5 guitar shapes are also related to the CAGED system.  The CAGED system is a universal method for navigating the guitar fretboard, used by millions of guitarists.  The CAGED system is a great way to begin understanding how chords, octaves and scales are played anywhere on the neck.

Guitar Modes and The CAGED System

Each chord in the CAGED system represents a position on the neck.  These diagrams relate the C chord to an octave pattern 1 and the Phrygian mode.  You can also learn how to play the Phrygian mode in my video lesson.  This mode also contains the notes of the Lydian mode. However, the Lydian mode doesn't correlate directly to on of the CAGED chords or an octave pattern from this methodology.

The A position chord is related to the octave pattern 2 and the Mixolydian mode.  This mode is used most often to convey the tension and "pull" of the blues tonality.  Learn how to play the Mixolydian mode.

The G position chord relates to the octave pattern 3 and the Aeolian mode.  The Aeolian mode is another name for the natural minor scale.  So, if you know the minor scale on guitar already, then congrats - you know the Aeolian mode!  Learn how to play the Aeolian mode.

The E position chord relates to the octave pattern 4 and the Ionian mode.  The Ionian mode also contains most of the Locrian mode (the mode built off the 7th scale degree).  Learn to play the Ionian mode.

The D position chord relates to the octave pattern 5 and the famous Dorian mode.  The Dorian mode is a very popular mode to use because it has elements of both major and minor tonalities.  This mode is used heavily in the guitar work by the Allman Brothers and Dire Straits (to name only 2).  The Dorian mode is also a go-to mode for all kinds of improvisational styles from blues to jazz and rock.  Learn to play the Dorian mode.

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