Stringed Instruments

Tuning

You can select a specific tuning from the dropdown list available or you can enter your own. The dropdown list has a bunch of options in it, from lutes to soprano ukes, but if you need something special, you can enter it manually.

To supply your own tuning, look for the Custom Tuning field under in the More Options section of any given form. To enter a custom tuning, enter the notes from low to high. You don't have to separate them by spaces or anything, although you can if you really want to. For flats, use the equivalent sharps.

Examples:

  • for standard guitar tuning: "E A D G B E"
  • for open G guitar tuning: "D G D G B D"
  • for a lute: "E A D F# B E"
  • for some crazy tuning I just came up with: "B C F# G D E A# A"

Finger Span

The finger span option found on the Chords page is a relative indicator of how far you're willing and able to stretch your fingers while fretting. It's just a general indicator of how many frets you can cover comfortably while playing a chord. The default is 3, which I've found to be generally acceptable. Some people may want it higher, others lower.

Other Options

Other options for stringed instruments include:

  • Capo - the fret you've placed a capo on.
  • Start at fret - the fret to start displaying diagrams from.
  • End at fret - when to end the diagrams.
  • Limit results - limit the number of results returned.
  • Don't show MIDI links - don't create links to MIDI files. would be useful if you want to just copy 'n' paste the output without having to worry about these links being embedded all over the place.
  • Flip for lefties - reverse the output of the charts for you lefies out there. (I hope I got the output for the charts suitable in this case -- I play righty myself despite being left handed, but I don't know for sure if my charts are acceptable to you lefties out there. Comments appreciated.)

Reading the Output

Depending on the options you've selected, the output is going to vary somewhat, but here's what the default output looks like.

Chords

Chord png?fingering=5+0e+1+3c+2+2e+3+0g+4+1c&key=c

Here's a C major in standard guitar tuning, no capo or anything fancy. Just a good ol' C major.

Along the top of the table you'll see what notes the open strings are. Below that are the the notes you get while fretting the chord. A black "X" means a string that is not played or is otherwise muted.

The next couple of rows are the frets you'd be using to make the chord. Along the left hand side are the fret numbers, and the coloured boxes are the where you fret the strings.

The colours used indicate the intervals of the notes being played. This might be of interest to some, others not so much. I included these colours because writing this software was just an excuse for me to learn some theory, so that's why it's all there. You can take a look at what the colours represent by checking out the Intervals tool. A legend is also displayed by default.

Note that the chord created by this tool are done programmatically. There's no database of pre-approved chord charts running in the background that we can pull from, so just because this here application generates a chord doesn't mean it's going to be easily playable by us mere humans. Some of the chord charts it creates can be impossible to play completely and accurately, short of you growing a fifth finger or second thumb. The way you actually finger the chord shapes is also left up to your own interpretation.

Scales

Scale png?key=e&scale pattern=minor pentatonic

Here's an E minor pentatonic scale in standard guitar tuning. This chart looks pretty much the same as the chord chart, except this time the chart is displayed horizontally.

Again, the notes are colour coded in the same manner as the chord charts and are idential to what you get when you use the Intervals tool. A legend is also displayed by default.

Other Output Formats

The stringed instrument tools can output in several formats. HTML just happens to be the default. We also have text charts and tabs, or combinations of both.

For instance, here's a text representation of the C major from above:

    E  A  D  G  B  E  
    x  C  E  G  C  E  
 1              o     
 2        o           
 3     o              

That should look familiar enough to most of you. Here's the same chord shape as a one-liner string:

x 3 2 0 1 0

Again, hopefully that looks vaguely familiar.

For the scale charts, we again have text-based charts...

|E-|-I-|---|---|iii|---|IV-|---|-V-|---|---|vii|---|-I-|
|B-|-V-|---|---|vii|---|-I-|---|---|iii|---|IV-|---|-V-|
|G-|iii|---|IV-|---|-V-|---|---|vii|---|-I-|---|---|iii|
|D-|vii|---|-I-|---|---|iii|---|IV-|---|-V-|---|---|vii|
|A-|IV-|---|-V-|---|---|vii|---|-I-|---|---|iii|---|IV-|
|E-|-I-|---|---|iii|---|IV-|---|-V-|---|---|vii|---|-I-|
     0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12 

As well as tab...

|E-|----------------------------0-3-|
|B-|-----------------------0-3------|
|G-|----------------0-2-4-----------|
|D-|-----------0-2------------------|
|A-|------0-2-----------------------|
|E-|-0-3----------------------------|


And HTML and CSS...

E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E
B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B
G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G
D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D
A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A
E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

You can also do some combinations thereof depending on the tool you're using, like displaying an HTML scale chart with the text tabs below and such.

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