Beta Testing Guitarator Toolbox 2.0 for Mac OS X

NOTE: The Beta test is finished! Click here for the Mac App Store listing.

Are you interested in a free copy of Guitarator Toolbox for Mac? People have been requesting a Mac version for years, so I’m very happy that this is becoming a reality. I want to make sure it works without any bugs or crashes, so I’m counting on beta testers to help me out. All I ask is you try the app and let me know how it goes. For your feedback, you’ll get a free copy of the full version when it is released.

This version is for Mac only and requires at least OS X version 10.7 (Lion).

The link to accept the license and get the app is below, but I recommend reading these instructions first so you don’t run into issues.

What is Guitarator Toolbox?

It is a desktop application, originally written for PC, but NOW available for Mac, with the following features:

  • Look up how to play any chord you can think of in any tuning for your guitar, bass, or other stringed fretted instrument.
  • Look up how to play lots of different scales.
  • Perform a “reverse chord lookup” where you pick the frets and it tells you the name of the chord.
  • NEW: Metronome.
  • NEW: Chromatic Tuner.

Continue reading Beta Testing Guitarator Toolbox 2.0 for Mac OS X

Things a Guitar Can Do That a Piano Can’t

After many years of playing guitar, I recently started teaching myself piano. It has been a challenge and great for reminding me what it was like to first learn guitar. I'm already seeing how learning piano will help my guitar playing.

The piano is a really powerful instrument. With ten fingers, you can play ten notes at once, or more if you use the sustain pedal or you mash two keys with one finger. It can play both higher and lower than a guitar - at the same time! Unplugged, a piano is louder. And there is tons and tons of music for the piano - a lot of it classical, but going through ragtime, jazz, some blues, and even some rock.

That got me thinking. Why is the guitar the indisputable queen of instruments in today's popular music? Folk, blues, and especially rock and roll? What is so special about the guitar that makes it so perfect for rock? I love Billy Joel's music, and Jerry Lee Lewis kicked ass, but numbers-wise, guitarists leave pianist in the dust. Why is that?

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Simple Chord Substitutions

I am not a jazz musician. I prefer to stick to rock or folk, and I see a lot of what modern jazz musicians do as showing off or needless complication of what should be simple. And so, for a long time, I resisted learning many ideas and techniques that I thought of as "jazz techniques," or "jazz theory," or even "jazz chords."

I was, of course, being silly. There is no such thing as a "jazz technique," just as there is no such thing as a "jazz chord." Jazz musicians (most of them, anyway) are trying to do the same thing the rest of us are trying to do: make music that sounds good. So, while you may not want to bust out the augmented seventh chords in your next Woody Guthrie cover, a lot of the tips and tricks that jazz musicians use can be applied in other contexts. One of these tricks is the concept of "chord substitutions."

Wait, don't run away!

Chord substitutions sound scary, because we hear people talk about things like "ah yes, the quintessential tritone substitution with the dominant seventh over a flat fifth blah blah blah." It really doesn't have to be that way. A substitution is just replacing one thing with another thing. In this case, it's replacing one chord with another chord.

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Skip to my Lou – easy fingerpicking

As promised, here is another easy fingerpicking song: the old children's song, Skip to My Lou. It's a melody almost everyone knows, and in terms of chord progression, you can't get much simpler than this. This arrangement is in the key of D, and it's composed of only two chords: D and A7. In addition to making it easy to focus on the fingerpicking technique without worrying about a complex arrangement, the simplicity of the chord progression leaves a whole lot of room for improvisation around the basic melody, if you so desire.

Continue reading Skip to my Lou – easy fingerpicking

Guitarator Toolbox now available for purchase

The beta test period has been completed for the Guitarator Toolbox application software. For $17.99, you can download it today at

The Guitarator Toolbox is an application for Microsoft Windows that allows you to look up any chord or scale you can dream up, find the proper fingerings in any tuning, and hear what they sound like.