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Scales with Chords, Modes, Arpeggios
by Domenick Ginex

Today we are going to discuss how to figure out what scales to play with any given chord, modes, arpeggios and soloing.

Generally speaking, the scale that you play against any given chord can be determined as follows...Figure out the key that the chord is in and that is the scale that you can play. Take the C major chord as an example. You know for sure that you can play the C major scale against the C major chord. But is that the only scale you can use? No, you can also use the G major scale because the C major chord is also in the key of G. You could also use the F major scale.

What are modes? Modes are a way of applying the major scale against a given chord to produce a certain "mood". Let's look at the example given in the previous paragraph. We said that you could play the following scales against the C major chord: C major, G major, F major. If you try this you will see that each scale played against the C major chord produces a different sound and feel. That is generally what modes are about. There are 7 different modes, namely Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian. Each mode has rules about the chords they can be played against and the various sound and feel that each mode produces.

In their most basic form when you play an argeggio you are playing the individual notes of chord. The order of the notes can vary and you can even overlay the notes of one chord over another.

Apreggios can add color and variety to your playing, especially during solo work.

We have talked about techniques, scales, modes and arpeggios that can be used. You should practice using all of the techniques when soloing.

Domenick Ginex is a guitarist living in Tampa, Florida. He has played in several groups in the Tampa Bay area for over 25 years. His website, located at, offers guitar instructional information for beginner to intermediate level guitarists.

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