Musings of a programmer, musician, photographer, and Christian.

17 Frets - Chords, a Guitar Chord Dictionary

I’ve been using this now for a bit, and now that I’ve not made any changes to it in a few months, and after a failed pitch at selling it to a publisher, I’ve decided to release this into the wild. I figure it’s useful to me and at least one other person, it may be useful to others.

The essence of it is that instead of the usual tome of a chord dictionary that most are, this one plots the chord tones across 17 frets of a guitar neck, using note numbers instead of names. This way, you don’t have 12 versions of a minor 9th chord, but only one. Amongst other things, this and the included index can help you find voicings, or good substutions for chords. In any case, printed double sided, the thing runs about eighteen pages, slim enough to keep in a music binder or folder you might use during practices or performances.

As an example, the entry for a major 7th chord looks like this: maj7

Each entry has the chord name, common symbols for that chord, the tones in the chord, as well as the number of semitone intervals between them - the last in parentheses is the interval from the last tone (here the 7th) back to the first. The index has them indexed by all of these, so if you know the name, but not the intervals, or whatever, you can locate them. This is very helpful when you come up with a substitution, but maybe you don’t immediately know what it would be called (especially when omitting the root).

The pdf contains more detailed instructions, and an example of the kind of thing that drove me to write it in the first place. This page contains the download link.

I’ve got a similar themed book for scales and modes in the works, which I hope to release before too long – it just needs some tlc.