Ionian Guitar Lesson – Step 3

Major Scales Guitar Lesson - S3
The major scale is best understood by having two intervals added to the Major Pentatonic!

Ionian = Major Scale

Ionian is the modal name for the major scale (Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do).

The majority of hit songs composed in the popular music tradition have the Ionian mode as “home”, using the other modes to support it.

You must practice this scale extensively, do not underestimate the importance of being able to solo and write in major!

Only by starting with the Major Pentatonic and adding notes, can you discover the true sound of the scale. Practice like this and the important intervals that make up the mode will pop out.

Major Pentatonic:12356

To learn how to write and improvise with Ionian you must learn all five shapes individually. To do this, practice exactly like the video lessons demonstrate, then take each shape around the cycle of 4th.

Only when you can play every shape in every key, should you move on and connect the Ionian shapes.

Ionian Guitar Lessons | Related Pages

Major Scales | Step-by-step guitar course

The Major Pentatonic is the first scale we learn in the Major Scales Course.

Using the CAGED system and Major Pentatonic as our foundation, we can build all our major scales on the guitar.

The self-eliminating practice routine takes care of this in 8 steps. All you have to do is put the time in.

Major Pentatonic

The Major Pentatonic is the foundation of Ionian.

This is where it all starts, you must learn how to play the Major Pentatonic in all five shapes and don’t cheat by thinking of them as minor.

And let’s not name these shapes 1-5, let’s call them by their CAGED name, and let’s practice them not just in A as the videos show!

Maj7 Arpeggios

You should visualise the maj7 arpeggio in the Ionian scale shapes.

Let’s practice the maj7 arpeggios in all CAGED shapes. This is relatively easy as long as you know your CAGED maj7 chord shapes.

Video lessons are available starting on an A. To complete this step, you must play starting on the remaining 11 notes as well.

Guitar Chords

To understand the Ionian scale shapes, you must connect them with the CAGED guitar chord shapes.

With traditional music theory, the stave, and a piano, you’ll get easy-to-understand chords but they will not help if you want to play chords on the guitar.

Instead, on the guitar we use chord shapes derived from the five open-position chords, C, A, G, E, and D, hence CAGED.


Chordacus can show you all Ionian shapes in all keys.

Spytunes chords, scale, and arpeggio software, Chordacus is a refined version of the so-called CAGED system.

Now available as both a chromatic (original version) and “within a key”, developed with the help of a Spytunes student.

About me

Dan Lundholm wrote this guitar lesson about Ionian.

This guitar lesson about Ionian was written by Dan Lundholm. Discover more about him and learning guitar with Spytunes.

Most importantly, find out why you should learn guitar through playing tunes, not practising scales, and studying theory in isolation.

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