Creating Fretboard Maps
(and chord/scale diagrams)


Sometimes we read chord names (such as Cmaj7#11) and we may or may not know how to play it. It may or may not be on a website or in a chordbook. If we do find one, it may not quite suit our needs. It's important (for those seeking to master the instrument) to be able to create a fingering for any chord, scale, arpeggio, etc. in any tuning on demand. It's becomes very practical when employing tapping, altenate fingering patterns, breaking out of the box, etc.

Given enough familiarity with a mapping scheme you can eventuallylearn to map out the entire fretboard for a structure in under half a minute.

To create a map (full fretboard or smaller), we will need to know:
1.) Tuning used,
2.) Structure desired (chord, scale, arpeggio, progression, etc.
3.) a definition of the structure specified in intervals.

We start with the tuning...

For the time being, i'll choose standard tuning EADGBE (i'll do an example in DADGAD at the end of the lesson).

We previously showed how to create a map of the chromatic scale in standard tuning (see http://simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/fretboard/applstand.html and http://simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/fretboard/chromappl.html)

From that we get:

E|F|-|G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|E|F|
B|C|-|D|-|E|F|-|G|-|A|-|B|C|
G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|E|F|-|G|-| 
D|-|E|F|-|G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|
A|-|B|C|-|D|-|E|F|-|G|-|A|-|
E|F|-|G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|E|F|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

With root on open 6th and 1st strings:

 1Ib2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|
 5Ib6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|
b3I-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|
b7I-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|
 4Ib5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|
 1Ib2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|
 0  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12 

If we know the tones (B, D#, etc.) that makes up a structure we can use the 1st fretboard above to create the fretboard map.

Ex. Cmaj7#11 = C,E,G,B,F#
start with an empty fretboard and place some symbol (circle, etc.) on the corresponding place for C as in the chromatic scale fretboard map.

 |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-| 
 |O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|O|
 |-|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
 |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|
 |-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| 
 |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

Now take that map and add circles (or other symbols) for E tone.

O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|O|-| 
 |O|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|O|
 |-|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|
 |-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|
 |-|-|O|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-| 
O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|O|-|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

Continue by adding circles (symbols) for the G, B, and D# tones.

O|-|O|O|-|-|-|O|O|-|-|-|O|-| 
O|O|-|-|-|O|-|O|O|-|-|-|O|O|
O|-|-|-|O|O|-|-|-|O|-|O|O|-|
 |-|O|-|O|O|-|-|-|O|O|-|-|-|
 |-|O|O|-|-|-|O|-|O|O|-|-|-| 
O|-|O|O|-|-|-|O|O|-|-|-|O|-|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

From here we would carve up the fretboard to create chord diagrams ( I will cover different ways to carve up such a fretboard in the next fretboard lesson on "zone systems").

One possible voicing for the above chord Cmaj7#11 is

O|-|-|-|-|
O|-|-|-|-|
 |-|-|-|O|
 |-|-|-|O|
 |-|-|O|-|
 |-|-|O|-|
0 1 2 3 4 

how to chose which notes to use to create voicings can be found at http://simianmoon.com/snglstringtheory/chords/voicings.html

It helps when creating fretboard maps to notate which note the root is.

O|-|O|O|-|-|-|O|R|-|-|-|O|-| 
O|R|-|-|-|O|-|O|O|-|-|-|O|R|
O|-|-|-|O|R|-|-|-|O|-|O|O|-|
 |-|O|-|O|O|-|-|-|O|R|-|-|-|
 |-|O|R|-|-|-|O|-|O|O|-|-|-| 
O|-|O|O|-|-|-|O|R|-|-|-|O|-|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

If you know the interval spelling at the structure, then you can use the 2nd chromatic map (with numbers) to create your fretboard map.

Using the fretboard above (root on E), and the definition maj7#11 = 1,3,5,7,#11 , we create a map for Emaj7#11.

 1I---|---|---|-3-|---|#4-|-5-|---|---|---|-7-|-1-|
 5I---|---|---|-7-|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|#4-|-5-|
  I-3-|---|#4-|-5-|---|---|---|-7-|-1-|---|---|---|
  I-7-|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|#4-|-5-|---|---|---|
  I#4-|-5-|---|---|---|-7-|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|
 1I---|---|---|-3-|---|#4-|-5-|---|---|---|-7-|-1-|
 0  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12 

Take a moment to compare maps for Cmaj7#11 and Emaj#11.

Looking closely at either Cmaj7311 map with root notes indicated or the Emaj7#11 map , we note the octave pattern of standard tuning

in E

O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|O|-| 
 |-|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
 |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|
 |-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
 |-|-|-|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-| 
O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|O|-|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

we can use this pattern to draw our maps.

To use the octave patterns, you'll need:
1.) a blank fretboard map
2.) the octave pattern memorized or close by.
3.) the chromatic scale in 1st position in either:
a.) tones, or
b.) intervals
4.) a definition of your desired structure based on the corresponding
a.) tones, or
b.) intervals

The chromatic 1st position in tones

E|F|-|G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|E|F|
B|C|-|D|-|E|F|-|G|-|A|-|B|C|
G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|E|F|-|G|-| 
D|-|E|F|-|G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|
A|-|B|C|-|D|-|E|F|-|G|-|A|-|
E|F|-|G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|E|F|

and in intervals: (in B)

 4Ib5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|
 1Ib2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|
b6I-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|b6-|
b3I-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|
b7I-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|
 4Ib5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|
 0  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12 

using either of these with the octave pattern given above, we create B7#9
7#9 = 1,3,5,b7,#9 ; B7#9 = B,D#,F#,A,C#

We start by marking one or more of the notes in open position, and using the octave pattern down the neck from there.

Trying the one-note-at-a-time approach:
B7#9 = B,D#,F#,A,C#
First the root (B)

 |-|-|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|-|-|-| 
R|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|R|-|
 |-|-|-|R|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|
 |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|-|
 |-|R|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| 
 |-|-|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|-|-|-|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

then the 3rd

 |-|-|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-| 
R|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|R|-|
 |-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|
 |O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|
 |-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| 
 |-|-|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

then the 5th

 |-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-| 
R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|
 |-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|
 |O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|
 |-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|-|-| 
 |-|O|-|-|-|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

then the b7th

 |-|O|-|-|O|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-| 
R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|R|-|
 |-|O|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|
 |O|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|R|-|-|-|O|
O|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|-|O|-| 
 |-|O|-|-|O|-|R|-|-|-|O|-|-|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

then the #9th

 |-|O|-|-|O|-|R|-|-|O|O|-|-| 
R|-|-|O|O|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|R|-|
 |-|O|-|R|-|-|O|O|-|-|O|-|-|
O|O|-|-|O|-|-|O|-|R|-|-|O|O|
O|-|R|-|-|O|O|-|-|O|-|-|O|-| 
 |-|O|-|-|O|-|R|-|-|O|O|-|-|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

Starting with all notes coppied from 1st position

  I---|-5-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
 1I---|---|#9-|-3-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
  I---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
#9I-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
b7I---|-1-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
  I---|-5-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
 0  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12 

Adding other tones using the octave pattern
I---|-5-|---|---|---|---|-1-|---|---|---|---|---| 1I---|---|#9-|-3-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-1-| I---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---| #9I-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|---|---|-1-|---|---|---| b7I---|-1-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---| I---|-5-|---|---|---|---|-1-|---|---|---|---|---| 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

I---|-5-|---|---|---|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---| 1I---|---|#9-|-3-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-1-| I---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|---|---| #9I-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|---|---|-1-|---|---|---| b7I---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|---|---|---|---| I---|-5-|---|---|---|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---| 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

I---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---| 1I---|---|#9-|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-| I---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---| #9I-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|---| b7I---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|b7-| I---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---| 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

I---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|#9-|-3-|---| 1I---|---|#9-|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-| I---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|#9-|-3-|---|---|-5-|---| #9I-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|#9-| b7I---|-1-|---|---|#9-|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|b7-| I---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|#9-|-3-|---| 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Using this process, you can learn to quickly create fretboard maps (under 1/2 minute).

Creating maps in other tunings

Let's say we want to know where to play D7 in DADGAD.

We start by creating a map of the chromatic scale in DADGAD.

D|-|E|F|-|G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|
A|-|B|C|-|D|-|E|F|-|G|-|A|-|
G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|E|F|-|G|-| 
D|-|E|F|-|G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|
A|-|B|C|-|D|-|E|F|-|G|-|A|-|
D|-|E|F|-|G|-|A|-|B|C|-|D|-|
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 910 11 12 13

from this we can create an interval map for the chromatic scale.

 1Ib2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|
 5Ib6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|
 4Ib5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|
 1Ib2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|
 5Ib6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|b2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|
 1Ib2-|-2-|b3-|-3-|-4-|b5-|-5-|b6-|-6-|b7-|-7-|-1-|
 0  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12 

From here we can find the octave pattern.

 1I---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-1-|
  I---|---|---|---|-1-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
  I---|---|---|---|---|---|-1-|---|---|---|---|---|
 1I---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-1-|
  I---|---|---|---|-1-|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
 1I---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|-1-|
 0  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12 

Previous methods can be used with either of these 3 fretboard maps to find D7 = D,F#,A,C (7 = 1,3,5,b7)
in DADGAD as:

 RI---|---|---|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|-R-|
 OI---|---|-O-|---|-R-|---|---|---|-O-|---|---|-O-|
  I---|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|-R-|---|---|---|-O-|---|
 RI---|---|---|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|-R-|
 OI---|---|-O-|---|-R-|---|---|---|-O-|---|---|-O-|
 RI---|---|---|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|---|-O-|---|-R-|
 0  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12 


 1I---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|
 5I---|---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|
  I---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|
 1I---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|
 5I---|---|b7-|---|-1-|---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|
 1I---|---|---|-3-|---|---|-5-|---|---|b7-|---|-1-|
 0  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12 

Next lesson is on zone systems.

Peace,
Christopher Roberts
snglstringtheory@aol.com


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Last updated September 12, 2002
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