How To Learn The Modes On Bass Guitar & Make Them Easy To Understand – YT111

Paolo Bass Guitar Theory, Bass Lab PLUS Membership, blog

In this bass guitar lesson I’m going to show you how to learn the Modes on the bass guitar using an idea which will make these scales much easier to understand.

Time and time again I’ve seen students find the 7 Modal Scales confusing and challenging. More often than not once they have learned them they struggle to apply the knowledge musically in the real world.

Today I’m going to share an approach one of my early teachers showed me which made the Modes ‘click’ for me. 

When I looked at the modes from this new perspective they suddenly started to make sense and became infinitely more useful.

Learn The Modes With Using One Root Note 

Often when students they the Modes they learn them in one key. So if you play the modes in the key of C you will end up with:

  • C Ionian (or C major)

  • D Dorian

  • E Pyrigian

  • F Lydian

  • G Mixolydian

  • A Aeolian

  • B Locrian


Whilst this way of learning them is important I found I just ended up with 7 disjointed scales…. And they just sounded like scales too!


My teacher encouraged me to do the following:

  • Play the Modes with one common root note (in the key of E)

  • Use an open E string as drone. This will highlight all the ‘juicy’ notes and intervals of each scale.

  • Analyse how the shapes and individual intervals change. Often there may only be one note that changes between say a Dorian and Aeolian scale.

  • Play the chord tones first (R,3.5,7) so you understand how ‘Chord’ behind each scale is constructed. Then experiment with the 2, 4,& 6 of each scale.

  • Assign a ‘function’ or ‘Sound’ to each scale there’s a clear usage for it.


Watch the video and you’ll see how to learn the modes on the bass guitar using the 5 points above. 


Here are each of the Modal Scales written out with an E root, on the 7th fret at the A string.

E Ionian Scale

E Dorian Scale

E Phrygian Scale

E Lydian Scale

E Mixolydian Scale

E Aeolian Scale

E Locrian Scale

Lesson Wrap Up 

The Modes can be a super useful piece of understanding and can often help to really take a student’s knowledge of theory to the next level.

Inside the Bass Lab Plus we have a course called the Modes Mastery Course which teaches the concept of the Modes from the ground upwards.

There are 7 backing tracks (made with real musicians) which make learning each mode (or scale)  far simpler and each track made in the style of the most common genre of music that uses that mode.

This will make applying the knowledge you gain from the modes far easier and quicker.

The Bass Lab PLUS is complete program for the beginner to intermediate bass player - Join FREE Today with a 14 day trial.

All Bass Lab PLUS courses are easy to understand and simplify complex ideas so bass players in the early phases of learning can make rapid progress and achieve results that impress their friends and family fast.

Good luck and get stuck in!


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