Fretmarker Design User Guide


Fretmarker Design is a Java application to aid in the design of unique guitar fret markers. Fret marker designs are specified with control points which indicate the general shape of the design; as the points are dragged to new positions, the fretmarker shape changes in the same direction. By moving (and adding and deleting) control points, a fretmarker design can be refined until it has the desired shape. A dialog allows the specification of the parameters of the guitar fretboard, including the scale length, the fretboard width at the the nut, and the fretboard width at the 12th fret. These parameters are used when the design is printed: the design is automatically scaled to produce templates for each of the frets which traditionally receive a marker (the F, G, A, B, C#, E, G, A, B, C# and E frets).

Fretmarker Design screenshot

Figure 1: Fretmarker Design screenshot


To start Fretmarker Design, either double-click on the FretmarkerDesign.jar file (Windows or Mac OSX), or type
java  -jar  FretmarkerDesign.jar
in a command-line window. When the Fretmarker Design application is opened, a blank design screen is displayed, with a rectangular outline that is the size of the space on the fretboard behind the low "F" fret. To begin a new design, select "New Design" from the "File" menu. The application will then be waiting for you to place the control points for the design; the points will be displayed sequentially wherever you click the mouse. When finished, select "Sketch curve" from the "Edit" menu. The curve corresponding to the control points will be drawn, along with the control polygon consisting of line segments connecting the control points, and the matching portions of the design if symmetry is selected in the Graphics dialog (discussed below). The design can now be refined by dragging the control points; as a point is dragged, the region of the curve in the vicinity of the point will change to follow the movement of the control point.

Notice that when a control point is clicked on with the mouse, it becomes highlighted; this is important when adding, deleting and altering the wieght of points (see below), as the operation will apply relative to the currently selected point.

Some general design principles

File Menu

The file menu contains items for opening, saving and printing designs.

New design

Select this to start a new design. After this item is chosen, the application will be waiting for you to click at the position of each successive control point, which will be drawn as a circle on the design. When finished placing control points, select "Sketch curve" from the "Edit" menu; the control-point addition process will be ended, and the curve and control polygon drawn on the design.

Open design


Save design, Save design as

Self-explanatory; however, it's worth noting that the design parameters are saved as an XML file. This file is plain text, and can be inspected with a text editor if desired.

Print design

Select this item to print a design out. This will produce a complete set of scaled fret designs to be used as templates for producing the markers, as illustrated below. Note that the control points and control polygon (see below) are not printed

Fretmarker printout
Figure 2: Fretmarker printout; note that additional frets on second page not shown

Edit Menu

The "Edit" menu contains items for displaying and altering the design.

Sketch design

The "Sketch design" item simply causes the design to be drawn onscreen; this is usually only used to stop the addition of control points and cause the design to be drawn when "New design" has been selected from the "File" menu.

Add point

This item is used to add a control point. This is useful for refining a design; adding a control point gives additional flexibility in specifying the shape of the design curve (though too many can make it difficult to create a smooth curve, resulting in unappealing lumps). It's necessary to select the control point that the newly added point will follow before choosing the "Add point" menu item:
The newly added point can be dragged to refine the curve shape.

Delete point

This item is used to remove a control point. It's necessary to select the control point to be deleted before choosing the "Delete point" menu item:

Alter weight

This item is used to affect the amount of influence a control point has on the curve. The default weight of a control point is 1: if its weight is increased to 2, the curve will be drawn more closely to the point; if the weight is increased to 3, the curve will pass through the point, and may even forma a cusp (sharp corner) at the point. It's necessary to select the control point whose weight is to be altered before choosing the "Alter weight" menu item:

Display Menu

The Display menu contains items that affect the display of the design

Control points

When checked, control points will be displayed. This will usually be desired.

Control polygon

When checked, the sequence of control points will be connected with line segments.


When checked, the curve will be displayed. This will usually be left checked.

Show display dialog

This item brings up the display dialog, with the following items: