Generic Chord Locator

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The Generic Chord Locator displays basic and advanced steel guitar chords on your favorite tuning. See the instructions below and a complete introductory tutorial. Email me if you encounter bugs! Check out the more advanced Chord Voicing Locator when you feel comfortable with the generic locator.


The Generic Chord Locator is a tool that allows you to locate chords commonly used in most steel guitar styles. I'm continuing to add to the menu of chord types—if you think I've omitted an important chord in any of the chord categories please let me know.

Hiding Open String Positions

Open string positions are positions that contain some but not all open strings. They are pretty abstract and sometimes not that playable—the default option for the generic chord finder is to hide them. However, if your search produces no results or very few, try unchecking this option.

Hiding 2-Note Chords

In the strictest sense, a chord must contain at least 3 notes. However, because of the limitations of straight steel guitar, you end up playing lots of 2-note chords that approximate the sound of full chordal harmony. To view them, uncheck the Hide 2-Note Chords option at the top of the form. This option is turned on by default so you can easily view full chords without distractions.

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 involving 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).

Setting the Melody Note and Using PowerFind

You can limit the results of a generic chord search by specifying the highest chord tone or melody note in the Melody field. You can use letters (C, F#, Db...) or scale degrees (1,3,#5,b7,-9,+11...).

Searches using a Melody note will often produce no results. This is where PowerFind comes in. PowerFind takes the chord type you are using (Major 9, for example) and adds to it chords from its larger chord family, which can provide playable alternatives to the original chord type you selected. The following are the chord families used in PowerFind:

PowerFind Chord Families

  • Major Chords
  • Minor Chords
  • Diminished Chords
  • Augmented Chords
  • Dominant Chords

So, for example, if you are looking for C Major 9 chords with a G on top, do the following:

  1. Enter C in the Chord Root field.
  2. Choose Major 9 from the Select Chord Types menu.
  3. Enter 'G' or 5 in the Melody field.
  4. Press the Find Positions button to view the results.
  5. To use PowerFind check the PowerFind checkbox and rerun the search. The search will include chords from the other Major chord types (Simple Major, Major 6th, Major 7th, etc.).