Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

G Modal Scale

Hi Guy’s
I’d like to learn the G Modal Scale across the entire neck of the banjo. I know some bits of the down the scale from working thru Man of Constant Sorrow and Clinch Mountain Backstep. But I’d like to explore this scale up the neck. Do any of you know of any online resources that has a chart explaining this scale.

Which mode? each Major key signature has 7 modal scales… Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian.

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Hi Dave, Not sure possibly Mixolydian, Minor Pentatonic I get lost in all this theory. I just like the sound and want to explore this scale and see where it takes me.

Let’s see if we can get a handle on what the term is for what you’re looking for and maybe I can help…look these deinitions ovr maybe and see wyhich most closely describes what you seek.

The Mixolydian scale is the scale that appears when a major scale is played with the fifth note (fifth scale -degree) as the root.

A major pentatonic (five note scale) is formed by choosing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th notes of a major scale. So therefore, the C major pentatonic or five note scale includes the keys of C, D, E, G, A. The minor pentatonic includes the same notes of a major pentatonic.

  • The minor pentatonic scale formula is 1, b3, 4, 5, b7.

my best guess is you want something I don’t know the name of? (maybe it is a type of “modal”?)

Clinch MTN BS for instance, when played in A Major would use an Am pentatonic scale (C Maj) for the leads.

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Mike “Dr. Guitar” is the guy to ask on this matter. He’s got it down like nobody’s business. I nominate him as your best online resource.

Per my understanding, modes are more for classical or jazz. Their best application is for when you want to improvise. For me, it’s very difficult to grasp, and I still don’t “get it”, though I’ve read quite a bit about it.

Minor pentatonic is much easier, and incredible for improvising with the blues and rock. Plus you only need to know six notes. Those notes vary according to what key you’re playing in, but they are always the exact same musical degrees, no matter what key your playing in. 1, flat 3, 4, flat 5 (also called the blue note), 5, and flat 7.

Sounds a bit complex, but it really isn’t especially when you view it from a keyboard perspective.

In one of Ben’s videos, he stated that the piano is the “mother of all instruments”. I agree 100%. It’s so much easier to understand theory when it’s all laid out in front of you in a straight line.

I’m pretty sure that Ben also said, “learn piano and you can learn any instrument”.

I believe he’s referring to the mixolydian scale, often called modal. It’s used for tunes like old Joe Clark, red haired boy, and salt creek.

Hi Dave, Bill Evans describes it as the Minor Pentatonic G Modal Scale. He teaches a small section down the neck. I have no idea which mode it’s in, that kind of theory just glides over my head.

He explains just a partial scale G, Bb, C, D & F notes. I have no idea what other notes fit in here which is why I posted the query.

Open 3rd string G
3rd string fretted at the 3rd fret Bb
2nd string fretted at the 1st fret C
Open 1st string D
1st string fretted at the 3rd fret F
Open 5th string G
4th string fretted at the 3 fret F
Open 4th string D

Must avoid using the open 2nd string B note which would change the scale to G Major. I think also F# would change it to a Major scale although he did not say so.

No chord shapes were shown in the lesson, just single notes fretted.

The scale produces really dark, mystical, lonesome tones.

He does say the scale is used in Man of Constant Sorrow and Clinch Mountain Backstep played out of the open G position.

That’s a G Minor Pentatonic without the blues note. which in the key of G would be a C#.

If you are playing in the key of G, and wanting to imporvise using the G minor pentatonic scale, any of the notes you listed along with the C# in passing, will fit in.

It doesn’t matter where you choose to play any of these notes on your banjo neck. Though some of the voicings may sound a bit odd, theoretically, they will all work.

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except for designating the flat 5 as “the blues note” I’ll second Jack’s comment.

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Thanks Guy’s

Much appreciated I’ll will get to work mapping out the neck.

@Archie, this isn’t a scale, but interestingly enough (to me, anyway) I was watching a video about sawmill tuning and ran across another making mention of a G-modal tuning…g D G C D. This tuning seems to have several different names!
Here’s a link if you’re interested:

Thanks Mark much appreciated. The scale I an seeking to learn is in standard G tuning and what draws me to it is the the deep rich lonesome tones. I am also looking at other tunings and this one is on my list to explore. Thanks for sharing the link.

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