Creating Modes From Pentatonics

Welcome back! In this lesson I would like to show you how to construct the modes from pentatonic scales. A pentatonic scale can be any 5 note formula - for this lesson we will be focusing on the traditional major and minor ones. The modes that are derived from the major scales consists of 7 notes, so all you have to do is add two extra notes to your pentatonic scales to construct a mode. Most guitar players are familiar with pentatonic scales, a lot of them are still confused about the modes. This is a great way to apply the modes to your playing right away.

Example 1. If you are not familiar with the 5 basic minor pentatonic shapes, here are all the common patterns you should know. The minor pentatonic scale is built (1, b3, 4, 5, b7). In this example they are in G, but you should learn these in all keys all over the neck. The circle in the diagram is the root the scale is built from.

MP3 - Example 1

Examples 2a-2b The other common pentatonic scale is the major pentatonic, which is built (1, 2, 3, 5, 6). The major pentatonic is relative to the minor, for example, a F#m pentatonic shares the same tones as the A major. If you notice, the patterns are the same, the root is in just in a different spot.

MP3 - Example 2a

MP3 - Example 2b

Examples 3a-3g. Here are all 7 major scale modes with the highlighted notes you can add to the pentatonic scales. I listed the major modes first and then the minor ones. The square in the diagram indicates the notes that have been added to the pentatonic
scales to get the sound of each mode. For example, if you want to construct an A Dorian scale from a minor pentatonic, just add the 2nd and the 6th. If you want to construct a Lydian scale from a major pentatonic, just add the #4 and 7. All of these scales are in the key of A, be sure to learn them in all keys.

MP3 - Example 3a

MP3 - Example 3b

MP3 - Example 3c

MP3 - Example 3d

MP3 - Example 3e

MP3 - Example 3f

MP3 - Example 3g



OK, that is it for now! Be sure to apply the modes to your playing from the pentatonic scales. Visit for more information.

Mike Campese is an all-around music performer, session artist and teacher competent in many musical styles, electric and acoustic. He has studied at G.I.T. (Honors Graduate), and with Paul Gilbert, Norman Brown, Stanley Jordan, Scott Henderson and Keith Wyatt.

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