The FretboardGPS Backstory

Several years ago, while trying to solve a frustrating musical collaboration issue, we discovered a brilliant method for easily -– and instantly — finding all the chords and notes a guitar player could play in an unfamiliar tuning.

In any tuning, really.

“Wait, what?”

Yeah. Sit on that for a moment and take it in.

That “Eureka!” moment immediately opened the door to an incredible, eye (and ear) opening world of knowledge that had previously been accessible only to advanced guitar players or academics with a degree in music.

But that’s not all it did.

Having access to knowledge is one thing. But with that door opened wide, with the sudden ability to easily move from one tuning and scale to another without the frustration of trying to find our way around a fretboard (ever again!), we immediately tapped into a river of musical inspiration we’d never quite experienced. One that never dried up.

It was like that scene in The Matrix when Neo opens his eyes wide and marvels,

We played for hours. Hours and hours and hours.

That’s when we knew we were on the brink of something that would change everything for musicians. And since we were guitar players, that’s where we focused our attention first.

This is showing two modes in Drop D tuning, with notes displayed in two formats: Academic and Intervals. Our fretboards allow people to visualize a mode of the major scale without having to understand what modes are or how to find them.

Having cracked the code to this enormous amount of data that kept growing, we began compiling and sifting, and testing, testing, testing to make sure it was accurate. Curating. Organizing. Naming.

Right away we started brainstorming ways to get the data into your hands so you could experience everything we were enjoying. We knew we needed an app (and maybe multiple apps), but we weren’t sure yet how to streamline the data, make it easily accessible, easy to navigate, and intuitive to use.

We began hiring and working with additional freelance developers until we found a lead developer who could provide everything we envisioned — or find a way to do it.

Along the way, we continually sought feedback from well-known and not-so-well-known guitar players and songwriters.

We vetted our data with music theory experts like guitar virtuoso, composer, and professor Don Ross:

Over and over again, we went back to the drawing board. We added new features. We created new options. We cut out the fat and kept the meat. We put some fat back in for flavor.

As the project grew, so did the obstacles and challenges. But we pressed on.

And through it all, we never stopped using the data for ourselves. How could we? That floodgate of inspiration has never slowed down. It flows on and on and on.

So… What’s Next?

Because we ARE the target audience, we’re uniquely tapped into the needs of guitar players, musicians, teachers, composers, and songwriters. And by adding never-before seen features, we’ve intentionally created solutions to multiple age-old pain points for all of us.

There are two of us on the development and testing team full time, and we’ve bootstrapped the entire project to date. That’s a good thing — no debt! — but we need more people on the team to reach the next major phase: Take a robust, intuitive and feature-heavy version of the app fully public. For that we need to hire another developer, one with a solid grasp of music theory. And we need help with support and customer service.

That’s why we’re coming to you, our generous Kickstarter backers, family, friends and peers.

To fund that next major phase and get across the finish line, we’re going to use the app itself – with its millions of unrepeated combinations of tunings, scales and modes, including all the chords found in each scale from 68 chord types, and access to accidentals (“borrowed” chords) allowing you to play outside the scale up to two notes — to publish great products that streamline the experience for you. Like our Mastering the Fretboard series of print and digital books complete with QR codes linking to more great content online, or our handheld decks AND online version of the fun Composer Cards game for an exciting, randomized experience that’ll kick your songwriting into a new gear.

We are looking to “kickstart” the launch of our initial products with a 30K Kickstarter campaign.

Stretch Goal for the Kickstarter Exclusive Streamlined Version of the FretboardGPS App

We’re moving forward with development no matter what. But we can get there sooner with your help. If you and your friends can help us meet our Stretch Goal of $100,000, here’s what we can include in an exciting, Kickstarter Exclusive version of FretboardGPS in 2024:

+ A dynamic Note Highlighter to highlight and save your interactive, audio-enabled FretboardGPS fretboards!

+ Display your highlighted and saved fretboards, chords and progressions in private and/or public collections!

+ A plugin enabling display of your FretboardGPS collections on your social media or your own website! (Perfect for teachers!)

+ And…Midi packs!!

We’re also going to use this time to gather a team of Contributors — musicians, guitar players, composers, teachers and songwriters just like YOU — to join our all-important feedback group using this first streamlined FretboardGPS release to the public.

Some musicians, songwriters and guitarists are perfectly content staying “in the box.” There’s safety in staying close to home on the heavily-worn paths of most-used and comfortable scales and chord progressions.

But not you.

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