Fret Diagram Software – Update 2014

It’s been almost 3 years since I wrote about software for creating chord and scale diagrams. I’ve recently been using software for this task that didn’t exist back in 2011. I’d say it’s time for me to tell you about these products and how they can help you.

There are two products I want to talk about. The first is Guitar Charts Creator. I’m using it on my iPad but there is also a version for Mac and through a web browswer. The software is free but requires a subscription for sharing. The second is Neck Diagrams. It is available for Mac or Windows but there are no mobile versions yet.

guitar_charts_creatorGuitar Charts Creator.
I’ve had this app on my iPad for some time now. For an iPad app it’s pretty good. However, it can also be frustrating to use and has limited functionality regarding creating images for use elsewhere.

2014-09-26 18.29.37You can create pages of diagrams. These can be for study, for chord books (reference) or even can be used to show the chords to tunes. The software attempts to determine the chord name from the notes you’ve placed on the diagram. If the chord name isn’t the one you intended, you can force it to use an alternate name from a list of possible names. You can’t give it a name that isn’t in its database.

I’ve found it difficult to use this and other features at times. For example moving the diagrams, editing a diagram and so forth don’t always respond to my taps and touches the way they should. But it mostly works and is a great portable reference and study tool.

Here’s an example of choosing alternate chord names.

chart-creator-chordnames

And here are the options for sharing (Print, Save PDF, Email PDF).

chart-creator-share

I don’t want to buy a subscription to this product. However, if it saved graphic images I certainly would have paid a decent amount for the software. Which brings me to the next software tool I just purchased – for what I consider to be a decent amount of money.

Neck Diagrams.

Neck Diagrams is everything I’ve always wanted in software for chord or scale diagrams. The one thing which surprised me was the cost. I paid nearly $50 for the Pro version of the software. There is a less expensive lite version but the Pro is worth it for me. Although this is a lot, I obviously believed it was worth it. In fact, it took only 10 minutes of using the trial version to convince me to buy the full, Pro version.

neck-diagrams

Neck Diagrams allows you to create horizontal or vertical neck diagrams of different sizes with different numbers of diagrams per page. The software allows you to have multiple notes per string so it can be used to illustrate scales and arpeggios. A nice feature is it has a scale library and will automatically insert the notes from the scale of your choice into the diagram.

2014-09-26_21-25-17

2014-09-28_10-35-16The G9 diagram above can be edited so the first string shows the correct interval of “9” instead of two from a menu of valid intervals (image on right) in a dialog inspector which allows you to choose alternate and extended intervals (image below). Once you’ve designated the root note, the other intervals are filled in automatically.

2014-09-26_21-28-18

You have a number of choices for displaying the information. You can enter scale interval degrees or note names in the diagram or can have up to two rows of information below the diagram.

2014-09-26_21-25-33

You can also set fingering and other options.

2014-09-26_21-25-54

The software does not automatically name the chords. That’s up to you. I’ve entered the names in the diagrams above. I prefer this to Guitar Charts Creator where the name is frequently not the one I intended.

The pages can be saved as PDF or as graphic images. You can also save individual diagrams as images or have them copied to the clipboard to be pasted into another app.

I’m loving this app. I am currently using it for study of things I already know – but need to practice.

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3 comments

  1. I just found fonts for neck diagrams for iPad and Mac on manneschlaier.com and I love the concept.

    1. Thanks for sharing the link. Some years ago I had looked at music fonts, including fretboard diagram type fonts. It seemed like a lot of work to create a diagram. I took a look at the page you linked to but I haven’t tried downloading or using the fonts. This seems more complete than what I had found in the past. I still wonder how easy would it be to create diagrams showing the notes of a scale or riff, or to make diagrams for ukulele, mandolin or banjo. For that matter, can you create unusual chord diagrams? Still, this could be exactly what some people are looking for. So thanks again.

  2. Hi Erwin and Dan,

    thanks for the posts. I am the developer of the OpenType fonts Chords and Scales. There are free trials for the fonts on http://www.manneschlaier.com/blog. You can create quick and easy very precise and even unusual diagrams for all kind of fretted instruments and any number of frets in no time. The fonts take advantage of the features Mac OS X offers, e.g. just drag and drop neck diagrams from the Spotlight window into an open text document. You can even write neck diagrams directly into PDF lead- and lyrics sheets on Mac OS X and the iPad/iPhone as well. The fonts come with a huge library of more than 7000 scale-, chord- and arpeggio diagrams for guitar. Check it out! There a a lot of possibilities.

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