How to Write Guitar Riffs in Mixolydian

Building riffs from Mixolydian can be done very easily by using a few simple ideas from the "Mixolydian Pentatonic" scale along with some basic Mixolydian music theory. Learn how to take simple concepts from the color tones of Mixolydian and use them to create killer guitar riffs....

When it comes to building riffs with Mixolydian, musicians need to understand what it is that makes Mixolydian different from other scales that they know already.

There are many ways to do this, but the easiest way is to take music theory ideas along with scale shapes (that are well known), and modify them in simple ways so that they work within the constructs of the Mixolydian mode.


For most guitar players, the Minor Pentatonic is the first scale that they will learn on guitar. The most popular shape that we tend to commit to memory very early on is this one...

If we go about modifying the location of just one note, we can come up with a pseudo "Mixolydian Pentatonic" scale shape that can get you playing riffs, and even eventually soloing within the sounds offered by the mode of Mixolydian.

Here’s what the shape looks like on the neck built off of a 6th and 5th string root…

6th String Root "Mixolydian Pentatonic"

5th String Root "Mixolydian Pentatonic"

Now that you understand a few easy principles for moving into the sound of Mixolydian, it’s also important that you understand what really sets Mixolydian apart from any other scale.

Basic Mixolydian music theory can be taught in the easiest way, by simply realizing that all theory principles will relate any new theories back to the basic major scale. The first step is to relate Mixolydian to Major Scale.

"A" Mixolydian Compared to "A" Major:

When "A" Major scale is compared with "A" Mixolydian, we discover that Mixolydian has a lowered 7th and it also retains the major 3rd step.

In the simplest sense, this makes Mixolydian a major scale with a lowered 7th. Off of a Root note of “A” we get a major scale sound that includes a very unique “G” natural tone.

Alright, so now you know a couple of easy scale shape layouts, and you also know which notes to pay attention to when you want to create a riff that locks down on the sound of Mixolydian.

So now let’s check out a group of riffs that are within Mixolydian so that you can understand how these concepts can get applied musically…

Mixolydian Riff #1).

Mixolydian Riff #2).

Mixolydian Riff #3).

Mixolydian scale is just one of the modes of the Major Scale (the fifth degree mode). I discuss all of the modes in my popular eBook “Using the Major Scale Modes.”

If you'd like to dig into the topic of modes a little more intensely, please consider a purchase of my Using the Modes eBook.

I also have lesson plans covering modes within the members area of my website. If you’re ready to start learning a lot more about topics like this one, (as well as many others), join my member’s site as a free member and start looking through all my “Guitar Courses” in the member’s area.

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