The Chord and Scale Finder was initially developed to assist players trying to learn how to play lap steel guitar but has since evolved into a general purpose tool designed to help players of all stringed instruments become proficient with chords and scales in any tuning in the shortest time possible through the use of Dictionary Items and Snapshots created to help master specific concepts. This guide will hopefully show you how to quickly gain facility with the app.
The first page to be displayed when the app opens will be the Tunings page. The app comes preloaded with several tunings, some common and some not so common. We recently gave users two install options; Advanced and Basic. The Basic option includes guitar, bass, ukulele and a 6 string C6th tuning. The Advanced option includes an expanding multitude of tunings, many of them specialized steel guitar tunings, and a host of exotic scales beyond the familiar major and minor scales. Users are more than welcome to add their own tunings and delete ones of no interest. We recently added a list of instruments so that tunings can be grouped with instruments as things were getting confusing and the instrument tag greatly clarifies things. If a user clicks repeatedly on an instrument then all the tunings for that instrument will display in sequence on the Tuning Page. The initial install can always be repeated from the “About/User Guide” page in either Basic or Advanced mode. If you want to enter your own tunings a few simple rules apply. The tuning can have no more than 10 strings on a phone or 12 strings on a larger device and no more than 24 frets. 15 frets is usually sufficient for most cases and helps preserve space. A tuning requires a name, at least 2 notes (which correspond to strings) and at least 2 frets. The notes are selected from the note list at the bottom of the page and can be either sharp or flat but never mixed. Tunings and scales are combined with root notes to create Dictionary Items and any time you try to delete a tuning the app will first check to see if any Dictionary Items use that tuning and prompt you should that be the case.
The Scales Page follows the same general conventions as the Tunings Page. The app comes preloaded with several of the most common scales and users are free to delete scales of no use to them. The Advanced install contains some truly exotic specimens and we hope to add more while the Basic install includes only the major and minor scales. For most users the Major and Minor scales along with the Major and Minor pentatonic scales are sufficient but we encourage experimentation with unusual scales. If users want to enter their own scales they are free to do so as long as the combination of Whole and Half steps ultimately adds up to 12 steps. A Whole step is equal to 2 frets and a Half step represents a fret. The steps can be selected from the list next to the scales. If you want to delete a scale currently used by a Dictionary Item you will be prompted and asked if you want to lose that Dictionary Item.
This page is where users create tools of specific interest to them in their musical journey. A Dictionary Item contains 3 required fields; a Root Note, a Tuning and a Scale and an optional 4th field that can represent a song, the name of a student or a concept of interest. The app comes preloaded with several Dictionary Items in order to give users a sense of how they can be used. Feel free to delete unnecessary Dictionary Items once you’re familiar with the concept. The Root Note can be either sharp or flat but the note list defaults to flat notes. The Tunings and Scales can be selected by tapping the appropriate buttons on the right side of the screen and once an entry is complete it can be added to the database. After you have selected your Tuning and Scale tapping the “Entries” button will display your entries once more.
The fretboard is the heart of the app and is where the magic happens (it’s also where unwanted bugs are most likely to lurk but we’re always on the lookout and fix them as soon as we find them)! Used properly this page should greatly speed up your learning curve and hopefully this rather detailed section will stimulate your musical journey. We will now begin the guided tour.
When you select the fretboard page all of your Dictionary Items will be displayed in a scrollable box in the lower left side of the page. You will also see an arrow (>) in the upper left hand side of the screen and a button with an arrow on it at the bottom with buttons labelled “Up” and “Down” next to the arrow. You can conveniently scroll through all of your Dictionary items by tapping the “Up” and “Down” buttons. You can also move arrow by tapping the “>” button which leads us to…….
When you move the arrow (>) from the upper left position the “Up” and “Down” buttons will change to “Raise” and “Lower”. This will let you raise and lower the pitch of the string the arrow is pointing at in real time to see how it affects your Dictionary Item’s scales and chord shapes. If you tap the “Omit” button the string the arrow is pointing at will be omitted, ie it will not show any notes.
There are 3 lists to the right of the Dictionary Items. The first list contains all of the notes, diatonic and chromatic, in the key of your Dictionary Item starting with the root note (G in this case). Notes that are diatonic to (ie in) your key will be labelled with the proper scale tone using standard musical notation conventions; large Roman numerals for the I, IV and V and small Roman numerals for the rest. Also, the root note of the key will be displayed in green. If you scroll further down you will see the 5 and 6 note blues scales, the 5 note pentatonic scale and the various modes of the key your Dictionary Item is in. Tapping on these items will produce either a series of notes or the scales and modes corresponding to your selection. The middle list contains various chords and chord extensions that can be built on top of the last note you selected including power chords, augmented chords and Shell Voicings (especially useful for comping). Finally the “Undo” button will remove the last selected note from the fretboard. The rightmost list contains any Snapshots you may have created for the Dictionary Item you’re looking at.
These buttons should be fairly self-explanatory. The “Add/Resave” button lets you save Snapshots. If you’re exploring the various scales, modes, chords and chord extensions you may want to save configurations of special interest to you as a Snapshot. These Snapshots are stored with your Dictionary Items and then be displayed at any time. The “Clear’ button will restore the Fretboard to the most recently selected Dictionary Item. The +/- buttons will expand or shrink the Fretboard should you want to drill down on a particular section. The “Use Tones” button will display Scale Tones or Chord Tones on the Fretboard instead of notes.
The “Help” button will take you to this online help manual. The “Diatonic” button toggles the app between Diatonic and Chromatic mode. This is a complex topic and will be addressed in a video tutorial (coming soon as of 5/13/22) but, in brief, if you are in Diatonic mode then everything you select from the middle list discussed above will be relative to the key of your selected Dictionary Item. If your are in Chromatic mode then your selections will be relative to the note you selected. The reason for this feature is that many songs contain chords from more than one key and it was too cumbersome to map them out diatonically, hence the chromatic option. The “Screenshot” button will take a screenshot of only the Fretboard that will be stored in your device’s Photos folder. For some reason beyond our control using this feature will cause the app to exit on iOS but not on Android or Windows.