Fretboard Charts (downmajor tuning)

This chart is in relative not absolute notation, meaning it shows intervals not notes. At the bottom is P1, a perfect unison. This is the tonic of the scale, or the root of the chord. This chart shows all the intervals within easy reach of this note, up to an octave. There are four "rainbows": one of 2nds, one of 3rds, one of 6ths, and one of 7ths. These plus the 4th, 5th, 8ve, and a few other notes add up to 25 of the 41 notes. Every single ratio of odd-limit 9 or less appears here.

This chart is the same, but extends much further. Some ratios change in the higher octaves, e.g. 16/15 becomes not 32/15 but 15/7.

This chart extends even further, showing the "rainbow zones" and the "off zones". When two guitarists play together, it's very natural for one to play chords in the lower rainbow zone, and another to solo in the higher rainbow zone. The open strings tend to be in an off zone, unless the tonic is fairly close to the nut, or else up around the 3rd or 4th dot.

This chart shows the actual notes of an 8-string Kite guitar. The notes circled in red are the open strings of a 12-edo guitar. The ideal string gauges for this tuning are discussed in the Information For Luthiers page. Every 4th fret has one, two or three dots. The dots run single-double-triple-single-double-triple etc. Three dots equals a 5th.

A 6-string guitar is usually tuned to the middle 6 strings of the full 8 strings:

This is called the mid-6 tuning, as opposed to a low-6 tuning (vD to vA), or high-6 tuning (^A to ^E). Not to be confused with the low-6 or high-6 voicing, see the chords page. The various options:

  • 8-string guitar: full-8
  • 7-string guitar: low-7 or high-7, or possibly mid-7 (either high-7 down a dot, D# to D, or else low-7 up a dot, E to Eb)
  • 6-string guitar: low-6, mid-6 or high-6

Another option is a baritone guitar tuned to the top 5 or 6 strings of the full-8, but lowered by an octave.

A bass guitar can of course be fretless and tuned EADG as usual. This avoids the need for extra strings and custom microtonal frets. If fretted, a bass would be tuned similarly to guitar, but an octave lower. It would ideally be 6 strings. A conventional 5-string bass often has the 5th string tuned to B below low E. The analogous Kite bass has a Bb below the low vD. Tuning this way makes a deep-5 or deep-6 tuning.

  • 6-string bass: full-6 (the guitar's low-6 down an octave) or deep-6 (full-6 down a vM3)
  • 5-string bass: low-5 or possibly deep-5 or high-5
  • 4-string bass: low-4 or mid-4, or possibly high-4

This chart shows all the notes for the full-8 tuning, not just the natural ones. But it's too much work to memorize all this. Just learn where the 7 natural notes are, and learn your intervals. Since the open strings don’t work as well, one tends to think more in terms of intervals than notes anyway.

Some keys are somewhat awkward to play in. For example, a vG scale is either too close to the nut to have a plain major 2nd, or else way up at the 16th fret where the fret spacing is a little too cramped to play chords comfortably. There's a "sweet spot" for the tonic on the lowest 3 strings, from about the 4th fret to about the 11th fret. This defines a 3x8 rectangle containing 24 keys, roughly every other one of the 41 possible keys. The lowest string of an 8-string is tuned to vD not D so that the common keys of C, G, D, A and E fall in this sweet spot. D is tuned to A-440 standard pitch, to bring these 5 keys as close to 12-edo as possible. The D note agrees exactly, the A note is 2.5¢ sharp of 12-edo, E is 5¢ sharp, and so forth along the spiral of 5ths.

In 12-edo, all 12 keys are needed so that a vocalist can get within 50¢ of their optimal range. In 41-edo, using only these 24 keys, one can get within 30¢ of the optimal range. 30¢ from optimal is sufficient, 15¢ from optimal is overkill, so the other 17 keys aren't really needed. Here's all the notes of the mid-6 tuning:

These charts show how the use of a half-fret capo between frets 1 and 2 changes the open strings, which can solve many arranging problems.