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If you're a guitar teacher you will certainly be familiar with this scenario. You're preparing a lesson for a student and its all there - you've used sibelius/powertab/guitarpro to write out all of your material, there are licks, exercises and maybe even chord diagrams. If you're like me - you will meet that inevitable frustration when you cant draw scale diagrams, well the good people at Neck Diagrams www.neckdiagrams.com finally have your solution. Of course, there is a lot more to this program than just being able to draw a few scale diagrams, so lets take look at it in depth.

 

 

 

The first thing to take note of is the sheer range of options we have here, aside from the obvious electric guitar (6, 7 and 8 string options with fully customizable tuning options) we also have bass (4, 5 and 6) banjo (4 and 5), madolin, Chapman Stick (8 and 10 strings) and even Bouzouki (giving us further options - Greek Trichordo, Irish (Zouk) and Greek Tetrachordo) I cant tell you how often I've had a Bouzouki student coming over and have had to hand draw his scale diagrams.... ok this may be an exaggeration, but whatever you need, you're covered here. You also have the option to create instrumets - so what more could you ask for?

Next we have our organisation system - the diagrams gallery. Here you'll be able to store all of your work in folders - this is perfect for a busy teacher, you can break everything up; drop chords, pentatonic shapes, CAGED arpeggios, 4nps extended fingering patterns, symmetrical shapes etc. This way everything is stored in one place so you can dip in on the fly and print out resources for your students or your own personal use.

So, lets get onto the program and the diagrams it creates. As a sign of its pedigree - you just need to take a look at the UK Future Publishing family of magazines to see this product at work, I even used this program recently with Martin Goulding to put together his fantastic "Play Metal Now" magazine and DVD set, so before you even try to use it, you know you're going to be using something that the pros use.

I only really use blank pages, but there are plenty of template pages you can use with various diagram layouts predefined - and of course you can create your own templates. When we open a new page Its as simple as clicking the diagram you want on the left (horizontal of vertical) and clicking where you want it on the page. If you double click your new fretboard you have the option to customize it in any way you see fit.

  • Amount of frets
  • Starting fret
  • Fretboard colour
  • Fret marker colour
  • Offset notes (closer to the fretwire)
  • String gauge
  • Titles, fonts etc etc

This allows you to tailor make your defaults to suit your needs, perhaps you want your digrams to look like a maple board, or an ebony look, or perhaps you want your diagrams to be designed to be printed in black and white with an absence of any colour. The limit is only your imagination.

Next you add the note markers to your diagrams, notice I didnt say dots, because you can do much more than that! We have the option to insert circles, squares, triangles or diamonds, and these can be either solid or hollow. You click what you want, and click where you want them on the diagram - could there be a more simple interface?

Once you've got the notes you want in place you have the option to indicate which note is the root note, and then have the program insert the relevant intervals for the remaining notes in relation to your new root. Of course, you can remove these intervals for beginner lessons or just to give yourself something nice and tidy. You can make any of these notes any colour you want, you can put them anywhere you want, in any tuning you want, to draw any scale, chord or arpeggio you want, you could even draw a face if you wanted.....

Now its time to export your diagrams right - well here is where you need to be careful. If you buy the standard version of the program ($25) you'll only be able to print your diagrams, but with the Pro version ($49) you'll have the option to export files as a .jpg .pdf or .png this is really useful if you're planning on using the program to create tuition material combining other programs, or for uploading to a website etc. (as shown here) The pro version also allows you to copy and paste from neck diagrams to other programs like paint or word if that is what you desire.

The pro version also contains a generator wizard, this is an amazing tool that will help you create what you want instantly, just pick your scale or arpeggio from the 98 stored scales, or click the intervals you want. Next pick your root note, position (CAGED, 3nps or between given frets) and you're there! So as part of the pro version you also have a refernce for anything from the major scale and pentatonics, to the Ritusen pentatonic, diminished major bebop or altered quintal. (and if you've never heard of these you need to just click on it for its interval structure to pop up!)

All I can say is, if you teach - this program is a sound investment, it will help you to look as professional as you can be. Luckily you are able to try before you buy so head on over to http://www.neckdiagrams.com/ now so you can download the evaluation copy. If you really like it, then you can find out all the details of purchase on the site. 

Remember, we are also giving away a licence for Neck Diagrams Pro along with a T-shirt as part of the 6th Live4Guitar competition - so enter now for your chance to win!