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Advanced Voicing Locator

The Advanced Voicing Locator displays all possible positions for a given chord voicing on your favorite tuning. See the instructions below and a complete introductory tutorial. Email me if you encounter bugs! Warning: To use this tool, you must know the specific chord voicing you're searching for. If you're just starting out, check out the simpler Generic Chord Locator.

Select Tuning
Define custom tunings
Enter Chord

Enter 3 or more chord tones, low to high, using scale degrees (1,3,5,b7,#9,+11...). Order matters! Enter a chord root (C, F#, Gb...) to limit results to a single key. Details...

Tone 1

Tone 2

Tone 3

Tone 4

Tone 5

Chord Root

Slant Bar Options
Display Options

Search Type:

Labeling:

Show Results as:

You can also enter specific chord tones using scientific notation (middle C = C4) or midi numbers (middle C = 60). Refer to the keyboard diagram below. Order does not matter. Details...

Scientific Note Names - Midi Numbers

keyboard

(Open guitar notes in blue - Middle C in pink)

Introduction

The Advanced Voicing Locator is a tool that allows you to find all possible positions for a given chord in any tuning including open string positions. I use it if I have an unusual chord I want to play or if I want to find where I can play common chords using open strings. Open string combinations are abstract and often not obvious. It's fun to enter a given chord and compare the positions available in different tunings.

Setting the Search Type

The default Basic Search radio button setting allows you to locate specific chords you enter. When you enter a chord, however, you may find it doesn't lay very well on your tuning, if at all. What the Open String Search does is transpose the chord to all keys looking for playable positions using open strings. You'll be able to figure out what keys to play in if you need an unusual voicing.

Slant Bar Options

You can filter the search results by checking or unchecking the Slant Bar Option settings. You must select at least one option. To get the most hits, use all the options. Here's what the options do:

  • Straight Bar—Finds chord positions that don't require a bar slant.
  • Forward—Finds chord positions that involve forward slants (clockwise from the straight bar position).
  • Reverse—Finds chord positions that involve reverse slants (counter-clockwise from straight bar position).
  • Split Bar—Split bar slants are the ones that Jerry Byrd discovered—you use the round bullet end of the bar on forward slants to compensate for tuning problems where the notes aren't quite on a straight line.
  • Esoteric—Finds obscure slants positions, for example, pitches that don't fall on a straight line but sound okay if the out-of-tune note is an altered tone (b9 or b5, for example).

Scale Degree Entry Method

The easiest way to enter a chord is using scale degrees. Just enter the scale degrees, lowest to highest, in the Tone fields provided and then press the Find Positions button. Results will include all occurences of your chord in all keys. To limit results to a single key, enter a chord root in the Chord Root field.

  • Scale Degree format— [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, or 13] preceded optionally by [b, #, -, or +]. Example entries: 1, 3, b5 (or -5), #9 (or +9), #11, b13, 6, etc.
  • Chord Root Format—[A, B, C, D, E, F, or G] followed optionally by [# or b].

Order matters when using scale degrees. The script builds the chord starting at the root, then adding tones from the bottom up in the order given. So, 1-3-5 will give you a simple first inversion major triad; 5-1-3 will give you the second inversion; and 5-3-1 will give you an open voicing of the second inversion as you would expect. Note that if you enter the same scale degree twice in a row, the second one will be placed an octave above the first. Because of how the chord is built using scale degrees, there is a problem with skips of more than an octave. When entering a note that is more than one octave above the previous note, just type a '*' character after your entry, one for each octave you want to skip. So 1 3* 5 would give you a chord like C3 E4 G4 instead of C3 E3 G3. 1 3** 5 would be like C3 E5 G5. 1 3* 5* would be like C3 E4 G5. Fortunately, these inversions are uncommon—you rarely have to use this notation. If you do have skips, you can always use scientific notation or midi notation to circumvent this problem.

A couple of tips when using the scale degree entry method: If you enter a simple note (C, Eb, G#, etc.) for the chord root, you'll get results in any octave where there's a hit. If you enter a specific pitch for the chord root (scientific notation or midi number), the results are limited to the register of that chord root.

Scientific Notation Entry Method

There are some chords that are hard to spell using scale degrees. Scientific notation is just the note name plus an octave number to specify register (Middle C = C4). Referring to the keyboard chart above, you could spell the F major 7th chord like this: F3, A3, C4, and E4. Or, you could go an octave higher by entering F4, A4, C5, and E5.

Since chords spelled using scientific notation are well-defined, you don't have to enter anything in the Chord Root field. However, if you're doing an open position scan where the chord is transposed to all keys, entering a chord root can help you track the results.

Midi Number Entry Method

As an alternative to scientific notation you can enter the midi number of the note (Middle C = 60). Referring to the keyboard chart above, you could spell the F major 7th chord like this: 53, 57, 60, and 64. Or, you could go an octave higher by entering 65, 69, 72, and 76.

As with scientific notation, you don't have to enter anything in the Chord Root field when entering midi numbers. However, if you're doing an open position scan where the chord is transposed to all keys, entering a chord root can help you track the results.