Staff properties

To display the Edit Staff/Part Properties dialog, right-click on any staff line and select Staff Properties.... This allows you to make changes to the display of a staff, adjust its tuning and transposition, change instrument etc.

Staff type properties
Staff Properties dialog, as of version 2.1.

For practical purposes, there are four different staff types:

1a. Standard staff I. A pitched staff used for most instruments except fretted, plucked-string ones.
1b. Standard staff II. A pitched staff containing a fretted, plucked-string instrument, with options to set the number of instrument strings and tuning.
2. Tablature staff. A staff containing a fretted, plucked-string instrument, which displays music as a series of fret-marks on strings. Also contains options to set the number of instrument strings and tuning.
3. Percussion staff. A pitched staff for percussion instruments.

It is possible to change one type of staff into another using the Instruments dialog, as long as the original staff is loaded with the right instrument. For example, in order to change a standard staff to tablature, it must contain a plucked-string instrument. Similarly, to change a standard staff to a percussion staff you need to ensure that it has an appropriate percussion instrument loaded and so on.

Most options in the Staff properties dialog are common to all staves, but each type also has one or two specific options of its own.

Common Staff Properties options

The following options are common to the Staff Properties dialog for all staff types:

Lines
The number of lines making up the staff.

Line Distance
The distance between two staff lines, measured in spaces (abbr.: sp). If you set this to a higher value, the lines are spaced more widely apart; a lower value and they are closer together. It is not recommended to change this value for the standard group, for which the default distance is 1.0 (instead, change the actual size of the sp unit in Page settings); other groups may have different default values (for instance, tablature usually has a line distance of 1.5 sp).

Extra distance above staff
Increases or decreases the distance between the selected staff and the one above in all systems. However, it does not apply to the top staff of a system, which is controlled by the minimum/maximum system distance (see Style → General... → Page instead).

Alternatively, you can alter the "Extra distance above staff" directly from the score page:
1. Press and hold the Shift key.
2. Click on an empty space in a staff and drag it up or down with the mouse.

Note: To alter the spacing above just one staff line in a particular system, see Breaks and spacers.

Scale
Changes the size of a staff and all associated elements, as a percentage.

Never Hide

Show clef
Whether the staff clef will be shown.

Show time signature
Whether the staff time signature(s) will be shown or not.

Show barlines
Whether the staff barlines will be shown.

Hide system barline
Show/hide barline at left-hand edge of the staff.

Do not hide if system is empty

Small staff
Create a reduced-size staff. You can set the default in StyleGeneral...Sizes.

Invisible staff lines
Make staff lines invisible.

Staff line color
Use a color picker to change the color of the staff lines.

Part name
The name of the part. This is also displayed in the Mixer and the Instruments dialog (I).

Instrument
The instrument loaded in the Instruments (I) or Select Instrument dialog. The sound associated with this instrument can be changed, if desired, in the Mixer.

Long instrument name
Name displayed to the left of the staff in the first system of the score. The long instrument name may also be edited directly as a text object (as of version 2.1): see Text editing.

Short instrument name
Name displayed to the left of the staff in subsequent systems of the score. The short instrument name may also be edited directly as a text object (as of version 2.1): see Text editing. Editing affects all occurences in the score.

Usable pitch range
Notes outside this range will be marked in red in the score window, if "Color notes outside of usable pitch range" is ticked in Preferences > Note input.

Transpose written pitches (as of version 2.1) / Play transposition
This option ensures that the staves of transposing instruments display music at the correct written pitch. Set the transpose in term of a musical interval (plus octave if required) up or down. For plucked-string instruments such as the guitar, this property can be used to create the effect of applying a capo.

Navigation arrows (as of version 2.1)
Use the and buttons, at the bottom left of the Staff Properties window, to navigate to the previous or next staff.

Plucked-string Staff Properties: specific options

In addition to the common options listed above, the staves of fretted, plucked-string instruments have a few extra type-specific properties:

Number of strings
Displays the number of instrument strings.

Edit String Data…
This button opens a dialog box which allows you to set the number and tuning of strings. See Change string tuning.

Advanced style properties

Clicking the Advanced Style Properties... button opens a dialog giving access to advanced options for the staff. The following illustrations show how the dialog looks for the different staff types:

Standard staff:

Advanced staff type properties - Normal

Percussion staff:

Advanced staff type properties - Percussion

Tablature staff—Fret Marks:

Advanced staff type properties - Tablature, Fret marks

Tablature staff—Note Values:

Advanced staff type properties - Tablature, Note values

There are also some buttons:

Template

Displays a list of all the staff templates available for the selected staff.

Note: Each score is initially created with 17 pre-defined staff "templates" (not to be confused with Templates): one standard, three percussion and 13 tablature templates. Each template addresses a specific need, common enough or standardized enough to deserve a specific template; each template can be modified (independently for each score staff) and new templates can be created to accommodate specialized needs.

< Reset to Template

Resets all the staff properties to the properties of the selected template.

Add to Templates

Adds the current property set to the score as a new template (not yet implemented).

OK

Closes the dialog box, accepting the changes.

Cancel

Closes the dialog box, rejecting the changes.

Standard and Percussion staff specific items

Show key signature
Whether the staff key signature will be shown.

Show ledger lines
Whether the staff ledger lines will be shown.

Stemless
If checked, staff notes will have no stem, hook or beam.

Tablature staff specific items

Upside down
If not checked, the top tablature line will refer to the highest string and the bottom tablature line will refer to the lowest string (most common case). If checked, the top tablature line will refer to the lowest string and the bottom tablature line will refer to the highest line (used in Italian style lute tablatures).

Fret marks (tab)

Fret marks are the numbers or letters used to indicate the location of notes on the fingerboard. The following group of properties define the appearance of fret marks:

Font
The font used to draw the marks. Currently 4 fonts are provided supporting all the necessary symbols in 4 different styles (modern serif, modern sans, Renaissance, Late Renaissance). More fonts (or the possibility to use custom fonts) may be available in the future.

Size
The font size to use, in typographic points. Built-in fonts look usually good at a size of 9-10pt.

Vertical offset
MuseScore tries to place symbols in a sensible way and this value is usually not needed (set to 0) for built-in fonts. If the font has symbols not aligned on the base line (or in some other way MuseScore does not expect), this value allows to move mark symbols up (negative offsets) or down (positive offsets) for better vertical positioning. Values are in sp.

Numbers / Letters
Whether to use numbers (‘1’, ‘2’...) or letters (‘a’, ‘b’...) as fret marks. When letters are used, ‘j’ is skipped and ‘k’ is used for the 9th fret.

On lines / Above lines
Whether marks should be placed on the string lines or above them.

Continuous / Broken
Whether string lines should pass ‘through’ fret marks or should stop at them.
Example of numbers on broken lines:

Example: numbers

Example of letters above continuous lines:

Example: letters

Example of 'upside down' tablature (same contents as number example above):

Example: 'upside-down' tablature

Show back-tied fret marks
If unticked, only the first note in a series of tied notes is displayed. If ticked, all notes in the tied series are displayed.

Note values (tab)

This group of properties defines the appearance of the symbols indicating note values.

Font
The font used to draw the value symbols. Currently 3 fonts are provided supporting all the necessary symbols in 3 different styles (modern, Italian tablature, French tablature). More fonts (or the possibility to use custom fonts) may be available in the future. Used only with the Note symbols option.

Size
The font size to use, in typographic points. Built-in fonts look usually good at a size of 15pt. Used only with the Note symbols option.

Vertical offset
As for Fret Marks above, but referring to value symbols instead. Used only with the Note symbols option.

Shown as: None
No note value will be drawn (as in the examples above)

Shown as: Note symbols
Symbols in the shape of notes will be drawn above the staff. When this option is selected, symbols are drawn only when the note value changes, without being repeated (by default) for a sequence of notes all of the same value.
Example of values indicated by note symbols:

Example: note symbols

Shown as: Stems and beams
Note stems and beams (or hooks) will be drawn. Values are indicated for each note, using the same typographic devices as for a regular staff; all commands of the standard Beam Palette can be applied to these beams too.
Example of values indicated by note stems:

Example: stems

Repeat: Never / At new system / At new measure / Always
Whether and when to repeat the same note symbol, if several notes in sequence have the same value (only available with the Note symbols option).

Beside staff / Through staff
Whether stems are drawn as fixed height lines above/below the staff or run through the staff to reach the fret marks each refers to (only available with the Stems and Beams option).

Above / Below staff
Whether stems and beams are drawn above or below the staff (only available with the Stems and Beams option / Beside staff sub-option).

None / As short stems / As slashed stems
To select three different styles to draw stems for half notes (only available with the Stems and Beams option / Beside staff sub-option).

Show rests
Whether note symbols should be used to indicate also the rests; when used for rests, note symbols are drawn at a slightly lower position. Used only with the Note symbols option.

Preview

Displays a short score in tablature format with all the current parameters applied.

Change instrument

You can change any instrument in a score to a different instrument at any time. The following method updates instrument sound, staff name, and staff transposition all at once.

  1. Right-click on an empty part of any measure OR on the instrument name and choose Staff Properties...
  2. Click on Change Instrument... (button on the right)
  3. Choose your new instrument and click OK to return to the Staff Properties dialog
  4. Click OK again to return to the score

Not to be confused with Mid-staff instrument change.

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