On occasion, I find myself possessed by the desire to improve my guitar solo improvisation skills. On one such occasion, I realized I needed a good set of scale charts to guide my practice, but being a cheapskate I was unwilling to cough up the money for a book of scales (especially given that these scales had existed for ages). I set about creating the charts by hand, only to recognize that this would be a much easier undertaking if I automated the process.
Many months later, I have a tool that is capable of pumping out high-quality PDF scale charts for just about any stringed instrument, in any tuning, in any music system. Yes, if you’re going to solve the problem, you might as well make sure you’ve beaten it to death. The final solution uses SVG, and the Apache Batik and FOP toolkits to layout scale charts in SVG and then transform them into PDF. Neato!
While I’m not yet prepared to release the final PDFs (they’re big, and they need additional context put around them), at BarCamp I released the development tool I used to fine-tune the fretboard graphics and the layout of scales. Although “ScaleMaster” isn’t the sexiest name, it’ll do for now. You can launch the application from the link at the side of this page.
Note: you’ll need the Adobe SVG plugin or an SVG-capable web browser to be able to play with the app. Have fun, and let me know if you spot any glaring errors in the scale layouts.