The Jazzhacker® Format for Stringed Instruments

Leveraging upon the geometric design of the fingerboard of most stringed instruments, the Jazzhacker format essentially divides the fingerboard into upper and lower halves, at the octave, and combines the physical locations of all notes of a scale or mode with the note names and their interval values (i.e., their harmonic distances from the root). The scale or mode name and formula is at the top of the page; it indicates the interval values of the notes included in the particular scale or mode.


The labels (Open), (0 / 12), and 1 / 13 through 12 / 24 are position markers (i.e., frets, or the point of correct intonation on fretless instruments) and represent open strings or frets 0 or 12, 1 or 13, 12 or 24, etc, up to 24 frets (i.e., two octaves). A 0 fret (if present on an instrument) is equivalent to (Open), and the same notes (an octave apart) are present at all position markers (because the notes on the fingerboard repeat starting at the octave). The roots and their octaves are in circles (interval 1/8) and the other notes of the scale or mode are in squares, with their intervals (2nd, flatted 3rd, 3rd, 4th, sharped 4th, 5th, etc) next to them, according to the scale or mode formula.


The notes also form patterns on the fingerboard, and these patterns will become familiar - graphically, tactilely and audibly - as you study and practice them. During scale or mode practice, a musician will typically play from a root to the next octave, following the sequence indicated by the scale formula.  However, a musician may want to extend this at times by playing all the scale notes under a particular finger position, beyond the bounds of the current scale (or mode), or perhaps shift and play the scale (or mode) beginning at another root, up to two octaves away.  These practice techniques are easily accommodated with the Jazzhacker format.


These illustrations depict (left to right) 6-string guitar, 4-string bass, 5-string bass, and 6-string bass pages. Select to view full-size PDF pages (then ‘back’ to return):

   B Blues w/Major 3rd Scale for 6-String Guitars (EADGBE)        C Minor Pentatonic Scale for 4-String Basses (EADG)        E Major Scale for 5-String Basses (BEADG)        Gb Melodic (Jazz) Minor Mode for 6-String Basses (BEADGC) 

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