Using the Fretboard Chart Generator
The fretboard generator is a dynamic, interactive tool that guitarists can use to create charts that show the note at each fret on each string of the guitar fretboard.
These instructions are intended to help you understand how to use and take full advantage of the tool. But we'd like to think that this tool is pretty intuitive and easy to use, so feel free to just poke around with the controls above. The fretboard diagram will update automatically as you make changes to the form, so there's no need to "submit" the form or reload the page to see the impact of a change to the configuration.
In addition to the standard tuning for guitar or for bass, you can create fretboard charts for any arbitrary tuning by listing the note that each string is tuned to in the box marked "Tuning".
For example, to turn your guitar to the popular Drop D tuning you lower the pitch of the low-E string on your guitar (thickest and top-most string) by one full step, from E to D.
So to create the fretboard diagram for the Drop-D tuning you simply edit the tuning to change the first E to a D, leaving D A D G B E. The diagram will update automatically to show you the notes of the fretbroad of your guitar using this new tuning.
If you want to use a tuning that includes sharps or flats, you can do that do. Just add
b after the base note to specify that the note is sharp (#) or flat (b). You can actually use the real sharp and flat symbols -
♭ - but those aren't nearly as easy to type. For that matter you can also use
s for sharp and
f for flat, but those are most convenient for when you are trying to create the URL for one of these fretboard diagrams by hand.
For example, you may be familiar with the Open E tuning, which lets you play an E chord by simply strumming the open strings. The Open E truning includes a sharp note - the fourth string is tuned up a half set from G to G♯. To be clear that's not the only string you need to retune for Open E, that's just the only sharp. To see the fretboard chart for the Open E tuning enter the note for each open string in the Tuning field, namely E B E G# B E.
We also have a small list of common alterative tunings, if you're looking for inspiration.
Guitars With Extra Strings
You can use this tool to create fretboard diagrams not just for six-string guitars, but for instruments with any number of strings: the standard four-string bass, 5-string or even 6-string basses, and guitars with 7, 8 or more strings.
Each note in the Tuning field indicates the tuning of a different string, so to generate a fretboard for an arbitrary number of strings, just change the number of notes listed. For example, if you enter the standard four-string bass guitar tuning, just type EADG into the box. Add the low B string for the conventional five-string bass tuning, leaving you with BEADG.
The standard 7-string or 8-string guitar tuning works exactly the same way. Just like an extended bass guitar, the extra string on 7-string is one fifth lower than the low-E - tuned to B - yielding BEADG. Typically the 8th string is dropped another five half-steps (frets), tuned to F♯, so you can see the notes on the fretboard of an eight-string guitar in the standard tuning by entering F# B E A D G B E into the Tuning field (as mentioned above, Fs B E A D G B E and F♯ B E A D G B E work equally well).
You can even create a diagram that shows the notes along a single string if you want to.
The notes on the fretboard begin to repeat at the twelth fret. That is, if the open string is tuned to E then the 12th fret will also be an E, just one octave higher. This is usually marked on the fretboard as an inlay of two "dots". So in theory a fretboard chart only needs to show the first 11 frets, you could just slide the whole thing down and start over with what used to be the open note at the 12th fret.
Most guitars have more than 12 frets, of course. A "classical" guitar, or a guitar that might be used to play Flamenco music, usually has 19 frets, while an electric guitar typically has around 22 frets. Usually the neck on a bass guitar is a little bit longer still, often 24 frets or more.
You can use the fretboard diagram generator with any length of guitar neck. Just enter the number of frets on the neck of your guitar into the "Frets" field.
For example, set the fret count to 19 frets for a Flamenco guitar or other small scale instrument or to something like 26 frets for an exceptionally long-necked bass.
Note that the frets are numbered across the top of the diagram, starting with "fret 0" for the open string. Also, typical inlay symbols are displayed at the bottom of the diagram, with marks at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets (and so on).
Sharps, Flats and Accidentals
To make the chart easier to read, sharps and flats are normally omitted on the fretboard diagram. For example, between the notes C and D you'll see an empty square. This box marks the fret on that string that would generate a note one-half step between the named notes. In this case that note is known as C# or Db. (Which, as you probably know, are just two different names for the same note.)
There's one exception to this rule. When the "open" note on a string is a sharp or a flat the name of that note will also appear on the 12th fret and 24th fret and so on. We just think the chart looks better and more consistent when we do it that way.
If you'd like to see the name of the note on every single fret on the neck of the guitar - sharps and flats included - just check the box marked "Show All ♯ /♭". For example, here's the fretboard of a 6-string guitar in the standard tuning marked with the note at each and every fret, even sharps and flats.
Just uncheck that box to hide the sharp and flat indicators.
Color Coding of Notes
Notice that a distinct color is used to indicate each note of the scale. For example, frets that generate an E are indicated by a shade of purple and frets that generate the note D are filled with a light blue.
These colors are used consistently throughout the entire fretboard so that every time that particular shade of blue appears the fret will generate a D (and vice versa, every single D fret will be marked with a blue square).
Color coding the fretboard in this way makes it easier to scan the chart to find a given note, and makes it a little easier to notice patterns in the way in which notes are arranged on the fretboard. For example in the standard tuning, the fret that is strings up (to thinner strings, closer to the bottom of the guitar when played) and two frets down (closer to the body of the guitar, further from the headstock) is usually the same note, just one ocatave higher. If you think about it, since each string is usually 5 frets (half-steps) higher pitched moving two-strings-up and two-frets-down is just like moving 12-frets (half-steps), or one octave. (In the standard tuning the second thinnest string - tuned to B - is an exception to this rule. There are only 4 half-steps between the G string and the B string, not 5.)
Shareable Links (Permalinks)
If you'd like to send someone a link to a custom fretboard diagram - without asking them to enter the tuning, number of frets, and other settings themselves - then you can use the link labeled "Permalink for this fretboard chart". Copying the target of this link (or opening that link and copying the URL of the web page that it takes you to) will provide a URL pointing to the current configuration of the fretboard diagram generator that you can share with others (or bookmark for later reference).
If you'd like to see the "raw" image for a fretboard diagram - without any of the controls or this text or anything at all - you can click "open this image in a new window". Clicking that link will do exactly that, open the fretboard diagram as a stand-alone image. This could be handy if you want to embed the image in another web page or share the image on social media.
Notice the image is "responsive" - it will automatically grow or shrink to fill the space that you give it - and that it is a "scalar" image, not a "bitmap", so you can zoom in or out as much as you want without distortion or pixelation.
Printing the Fretboard Chart
If you want to make a hard copy of your fretboard diagram you can simply print this web page using your web browser's built-in File > Print menu option or just clicking the "Print this fretboard chart" link.
Don't worry about this help text and all the other "junk" that appears on the web page. Through some technical wizardy all of that stuff disappears in the printed version of the diagram. Despite all of the other content you see when this page is viewed "on screen", when you print this page you'll get a nice and clean one-page mini-poster that you can pin to the wall of your practice room or keep in your guitar case for easy reference.
The fretboard poster looks great whether printed in color or gray-scale. If your computer supports it, you can also "print to PDF" to download a digital version of the poster for your convenience.
If you run into any problems with this tool you can send a bug report or hit us up on Twitter for help.
If you run into a problem then other people probably will too, so don't be shy about reaching out. We want to make sure the tool is working for you, and you'll be doing us (and other visitors) a favor by letting us know.
We also welcome your input if you have any suggestions about how to improve this tool or ideas about similiar tools you'd like to see.