Guitar Scales and Chords

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Overview

This page shows the notes on a guitar neck for a variety of chords and scales. It should be useful to anyone learning to play guitar or as an reminder of the fingering of a seldom used scale. It supports a small variety of alternate tunings. It can show a quick comparison of two different items, for instance all of the notes in a major scale and only the notes in a major triad (chord).

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Usage

Click on any of the buttons to select a scale or chord to display.

Changing the key, mode or scale basis does not cause the display to update. That allows switching more than one of them before doing an update; this is so the 'Last' button is more useful. Display Style and Tuning change the display as soon as the selection is made, but do not affect the Last saved display.

The 'Last' button toggles between the current and the previous display. It can be used, for example, to show that a C-Ionian uses the same notes as an A-Aeolian; only the note numbers are different because the note used as the root is different.

A few words of explanation about the display:

  • One thing that sometimes causes confusion is the display of any notes on open strings. The thicker bar after the first set of notes is the nut. It may make some of the chords look a little weird. Try looking up at the 12th fret to compensate if you find it difficult to interpret.
  • The Normal display uses a box for the root and circles for everything else. The Enhanced display uses a box for the root, a dark circle for the 5th, a light circle for the 3rd, and small circles for everything else. The Numbered display uses numbers for each note.
  • The numbering may seem weird on the pentatonic and other non-standard modal scales. In general, the goal is to have the 1, 3 and 5 numbered right. For example on a minor pentatonic, the 2 is skipped. All bets are off for diminished and whole-step numbering.

More Information

There are a lot of web pages that can give the music theory for what is being shown here. If you don't know what modes are, I suggest you start with a quick overview of that subject. There are also quite a few different names used for the same scales. I may add some other names for the less common modes in the future, but that will require a lot more research to try to pick the "best" name.

This page requires JavaScript and CSS. If you are using IE 6 or NS 6 and up, it should be fine. (As usual, getting the display to work on IE was a pain.) I think there may be problems with the way IE positions the elements in IE5, but I no longer have access to that browser to check if it works. It is unlikely to work in version 4 or earlier IE or Netscape browsers.

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