Guitar Chord Charts & Scale Grids
Guitar chord charts are one of many ways to visually show how to play (fret) guitar chords. It is a ‘grid’ of the fretboard with dots showing you where to place your fingers. Charts can also be called frames or grids or boxes.
The chord name will appear above the chart:
We will more commonly see chord charts oriented vertically, rather than horizontally (like above), especially in songbooks. Learn to interpret both horizontal & vertical grids. Ultimately, once we know a chord, you don’t need a picture of it, yet, sometimes the type of voicing for a particular chord in a song can be helpful when shown in a grid (typically at the beginning of a tune – there can be modified voicings, which are good to know).
We will sometimes see the fingerings inside the dots, or along the bottom of the strings, or myriad other variations of shapes and/or numbers.
Since chord charts are dominantly right handed, they are provide a challenge to left handed players [gotta flip it around], unless a given source provides a left handed version.
Chord & fretboard charts are very helpful in learning how things look visually on the guitar. We do recommend you print some blank grids, & map stuff out. These are 6×6 for either orientation.
Scale grids show us scale patterns on a fretboard. They are a great way to get to know our fretboard & get functional in all key centers, quickly. Like chord charts, they are intended to be a learning tools which are transcended, once we know it.
Here is a scale grid:
Here is one way we realize this grid into tablature, into playing…
In the tab, we start on the lowest root, play to the highest tone in the pattern, descend to the lowest, then return to the root.
3 Tones Per String
The dotted lines included in the grid are other unison locations for tones. In this instance, the tones on the other side of the dotted lines show us where 7, 3, & 6 are located higher on the board [up a string]. Playing these tones here [rather than closer to the nut] create the opportunity to play the scale as 3-tones-per-string, rather than having a string with only 2 tones. Here’s the tab for 3 tones per string…just starting from the lowest and playing to the highest…
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Process • Challenges
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