If you’re you’re the type of player who never strays from GCEA tuning there are any number of chord finder apps available, most of them free, that will do a fine job on those occasions when you run into an unfamiliar chord.
But what if you’re one of the Canadian or European folk who use ADF#B? Or maybe you’re like the fella I saw tearing up Blind Blake’s Police Dog Blues on his baritone, tuned to Open D (DF#AD)? Or even — horrors! — you’re like me with my sopranino tuned a 4th up from standard to CFAD?
I have the basics of the Circle of Fifths in my head, so I can, at worst, slowly transpose things and play the proper shapes (even if I do have to look up the shape in GCEA once I’ve figured out its name), but that can be a hella hassle. Ukulele Chord Cracker Pro to the rescue!
(I’m referring to the Android app here but I understand it’s also available for iOS.)
Chord Cracker Pro doesn’t just competently handle the basic job of finding chord shapes for you, it also has a number of features that allow you to explore how the chords are built, what the basic “chord scale” is in a given key, and other features I probably haven’t discovered yet. The interface and navigation don’t take too long to learn.
The chord scale is especially handy if you’re trying your hand at songwriting and want to escape the root, 4th and 5th rut that grips so much of the blues, rock, folk, old timey, and country. I touch on it briefly in my Cheater Music Theory doc (available here and it’s free) but it’s nice to have that info with me. In the scales mode you not only get the basic chord scale, you also get some extended chord suggestions and even some in the “others that will work in this key” category.
This app will:
do reverse look-ups by simply tapping the shape on the fretboard.
do standard look-ups by chord name. (They cover something like 70 different chord types.)
show you scales (about a half dozen modes so far).
show the chord in the standard box diagram, on a music staff, or as tablature.
allow you to enter any tuning and then show the chord shapes for that tuning. It also remembers up to 8 of your custom tunings so you can just tap on the list to switch between them.
allow you to choose what the “finger dots” on the fretboard diagram display. Your choices are note name, interval in relation to the root of the chord, and interval in relation to the scale of the song’s key.
play the notes or chords if you choose.
And all of this can be yours for just $0.99! (I just know you read that last line in Billy Mays’ voice.)
If this were a starred review I’d have to give it a 5. Seriously, check it out!
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