KDF Fret Numbering

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The frets of a Kite guitar can of course be numbered 0 through 41. But they can also be numbered in a way that reflects the usual fret markings aka dots. This minimizes the mental effort needed to find high-numbered frets. This fret numbering system is called KDF for Kite-Dot-Fret.

There are two types of Kite guitar fretboards, even-frets and odd-frets. In the former, all or almost all of the frets are an even number of edosteps from the nut. In the latter, it's an odd number. The even-fret layout is for isomorphic tunings and the odd-frets layout is for open tunings. KDF numbering is for even-frets fretboards only.

fret dots ASCII Unicode spoken alternative name
0 0 0 open
1 1 1 one
2 2 2 two
3 3 3 three
4 o ,0 ₒ0 low single single
5 ,1 ₒ1 low single one single one
6 ,2 ₒ2 low single two single two
7 ,3 ₒ3 low single three single three
8 oo ,,0 ₒₒ0 low double double
9 ,,1 ₒₒ1 low double one double one
10 ,,2 ₒₒ2 low double two double two
11 ,,3 ₒₒ3 low double three double three
12 ooo ,,,0 ₒₒₒ0 low triple triple
13 ,,,1 ₒₒₒ1 low triple one triple one
14 ,,,2 ₒₒₒ2 low triple two triple two
15 ,,,3 ₒₒₒ3 low triple three triple three
16 o ~0 ⸰0 mid single
17 ~1 ⸰1 mid single one
18 ~2 ⸰2 mid single two
19 ~3 ⸰3 mid single three
20 oo ~~0 ⸰⸰0 mid double
21 ~~1 ⸰⸰1 mid double one
22 ~~2 ⸰⸰2 mid double two
23 ~~3 ⸰⸰3 mid double three
24 ooo ~~~0 ⸰⸰⸰0 mid triple
25 ~~~1 ⸰⸰⸰1 mid triple one
26 ~~~2 ⸰⸰⸰2 mid triple two
27 ~~~3 ⸰⸰⸰3 mid triple three
28 o '0 °0 high single
29 '1 °1 high single one
30 '2 °2 high single two
31 '3 °3 high single three
32 oo "0 °°0 high double
33 "1 °°1 high double one
34 "2 °°2 high double two
35 "3 °°3 high double three
36 ooo "'0 °°°0 high triple
37 "'1 °°°1 high triple one
38 "'2 °°°2 high triple two
39 "'3 °°°3 high triple three
40 o "'4 °°°4 high triple four top
41 "'5 °°°5 high triple five top one

On an even-frets Kite guitar, every 4th fret is marked with either a single dot, a double dot or a triple dot. The 41 frets have 10 marked frets that are single-double-triple-single-double-triple-single-double-triple-single. This makes it easy to label chord grids with dots on the side, not fret numbers. By a wonderful coincidence, these 10 sets of dots trace out three kite shapes! The three kites are named low, mid and high. The top of the low kite is also the bottom of the mid kite. For numbering purposes, this dot is thought of as the latter, not the former. Likewise the 7th dot on the 28th fret is the bottom of the high kite, not the top of the mid kite. The 10 dots are named as:

  • low-single, low-double, low-triple (the low kite)
  • mid-single, mid-double, mid-triple (the mid kite)
  • high-single, high-double, high-triple (the high kite)
  • top

Mid also refers to mid-2nd, mid-3rd, etc., and low and high also refer to low-C, hi-3 voicing etc. Ambiguity is avoided because when referring to the fretboard, low/mid/high is always immediately followed by either single/double/triple or kite.

When speaking of the single dot, double dot, etc., it can be assumed that the low kite is meant, since it's the most comfortable region to play in.

For guitar tablature, a compact written form of the dot names is needed. A dot in the low kite is indicated by one, two or three commas (the actual punctuation mark ","). The comma was chosen because of its compact shape, tight kerning, and tail (a period would be too easy to miss). Also, it literally sits low on the line. For similar reasons, a high dot is indicated by one, two or three apostrophes. (Or an apostrophe, a quote mark, and a quote mark plus an apostrophe.) For the mid dot, there is unfortunately no obvious punctuation mark. A hyphen would tend to be obscured by the lines on the tablature staff. The best ASCII option is a tilde, unfortunately not at all compact. The most dot-like Unicode characters are the Subscripted Letter O ₒ (U+2092), the Ring Point ⸰ (U+2E30), and the Degree Sign ° (U+00B0). Other possibilities for the low dot are the Tifinagh Letter Ya ⴰ (U+2D30) and the Combining Square Below ̻ (U+033B).

The specific fret is indicated by how far it is from a dot: zero, one, two or three frets. The main use of this fret numbering is for tab. But it can also be used for chords, and x8x759 can be written as x ,,0 x ,3 ,1 ,,1.

Using KDF in MuseScore

In Musescore ver 3.6, right-click on the tab. Select "Staff/Part Properties", then "Advanced Style Properties". Check "Show fingering in tablature", and click OK. Then you can use the Musescore template. Copy an individual fingering from the template (each column has 4 identical fingerings) and paste it onto your tab numbers. Musescore will obviously not play the tab back correctly, since the fret numbers are all 0-3, so turn down the tab volume in the mixer.

File:KDF template.mscz.zip

KDF template.png

If you want to make your own dots, here's how:

From the fingerings palette, drag over the number 1. There are two sets of numbers in the palette. Use the second set. Numbers from this set go in front of the number, not on top of it. Next edit the text of the fingering to change the "1" to the appropriate unicode character(s). The unicode characters for hollow dots don't kern as tightly as those for solid dots. So use Unicode Black Circle (U+25CF) ● in 4pt STYXGeneral font for closest kerning. If you don't have that font, seehttps://www.fileformat.info/info/unicode/char/25cf/fontsupport.htm. Set the vertical height of the dots by manually moving the fingering or by opening the inspector and editing the Y offset.