Mixolydian Guitar Lesson – Step 7

Major Scales Guitar Lesson - S7
The best way to learn how to play Mixolydian is to use the major pentatonic as a framework, add two notes and then connect all shapes!

When Do You Use The Mixolydian Mode?

Mixolydian is the 5th mode and is consequentially used over chord V.

You can also use Mixolydian when chord II has been changed into a major chord. As a Roman Numeral that’s a IIx chord.

To learn how to play Mixolydian, you must first go through all shapes one by one (see the first five exercise videos above), then connect them as well as take them through the cycle of 4th (see videos below).

For a guitarist, the easiest way to build the Mixolydian mode is from the Major Pentatonic, like this:

Major Pentatonic:12356

Connect Mixolydian shapes

Following the initial five exercises, you must connect all Mixolydian shapes in the key of A.

When you can do this, transpose the concept to D, G, C, F, and all other keys using the cycle of 4th.

Make sure you get all the shapes right by playing slowly at first, without a set rhythm, and click.

When you feel confident, try triplets with a click.

Mixolydian and the cycle of 4th

The final exercise takes the Mixolydian mode and runs it through the cycle of 4th. Your ability to play this exercise is a good indication of how well you know your Mixolydian scale shapes.

If you struggle with a specific shape, go back and practice that individual shape again.

The full pattern moves like this:

A Mixolydian – E shape, D Mixolydian – A shape, G Mixolydian – D shape, C Mixolydian – G shape, F Mixolydian – C shape.

Next, start the pattern again in Bb using an E shape.

Mixolydian Improvisation

As soon as you feel secure with your Mixolydian scale, you must stop playing it up and down and instead turn to making music with it.

Try making up a melody or a lick that “feels Mixolydian”. You’ll achieve this by targeting the 4th and b7 as you expand on your Major Pentatonic.

Above, you can see a video where I attempt to do this.

If you have followed all the steps in this course on the major scales, you can now try to move between Ionian, Lydian, and Mixolydian as you improvise. Just change the target notes.

Finally, you must find Mixolydian in actual songs, the advanced acoustic course has many songs that use it, and I point it out as it happens.

When you feel comfortable with all exercises in this step, move on to the final step, the master exercise!

Mixolydian Guitar Lesson | Related Pages

Major Scales | Step-by-step guitar course

The Mixolydian mode is the final mode 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.

Advanced Acoustic Course

In the Advanced Acoustic Guitar Course we use Mixolydian.

In the Advanced Acoustic Course, we find huge chord extensions and unique chords using open strings. A few solos are incorporated as well.

Perhaps most importantly, we create 2nd guitar parts for most of these tunes, enabling you to play along with me and the singers as if we were a band.

Major Pentatonic

The Major Pentatonic is the foundation of Mixolydian.

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!

Dom7 Arpeggios

Make sure you visualise the dom7 arpeggio inside the Mixolydian mode.

In step 3, we practice the dom7 arpeggios in all CAGED shapes. This is easy if you have completed the previous step, the maj7 arpeggios.

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 Mixolydian 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 Mixolydian 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 Mixolydian shapes.

This guitar lesson about Mixolydian shapes 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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