Guitar Scales and Chords

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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).

If there are no buttons to press, please wait for all of the images to finish loading.


Click on any of the buttons in the "Display patterns" section to show a scale or chord. It will follow the current "Tuning" an "Key / root" setting.

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 'Previous display' 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 'Previous display' button toggles between the current and the scale or chord that was last shown. 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.

About the display

It can be confusing at first, but it becomes very simple once you've used it for a while.

  • 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 DISPLAY STYLE setting: The default is fine for chords, but probably confusing for scales. Numbered is usually a better selection for scales.
    • 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 the degree number for each note. (The scale degree is the position of a particular note on a scale relative to the tonic, which is the first and main note of the scale.)
  • 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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