Modes are simply different positions of a given scale. It's important to understand this concept as you develop your skills on the guitar, and after teaching tens of thousands of students, this has been one of the most common misconceptions I’ve heard.
In fact, I don’t even consider scales as actual notes. Instead, I look at them in formulas of various intervals. Within a single key, we can use a different root note of the scale pitches that make up that key. So, if we have seven notes in the major scale, we have potentially seven different places to start playing the major scale. If there are five notes in the minor pentatonic scale – you guessed it – we have five positions, or modes, of the minor pentatonic scale.
Understanding intervals is essential to learning modes of any scale. What's more, though, is the knowledge of the harmony behind whatever scale you're working on and how it impacts the tonality of the music. All of this information is expanded on in depth in my course, Guitar Super System, so be sure to sign up if you want to learn more!
Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric website Music is Win. His entertaining and educational content receives millions of views per month and has enrolled tens of thousands of students in his online guitar courses, which rank among the highest satisfaction ratings of any online educator in the music industry. Check out Tyler’s flagship course Guitar Super System and follow his daily content on YouTube.