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What Do You Think Of Tabs?

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(@honeyboy)
Trusted Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 70
Topic starter  

I've never gotten into using tabs. Is it really an effective way to learn guitar licks and chords?

Rick Honeyboy Hart

"It's about tone, taste, and technique... in that order."

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(@alangreen)
Member Moderator
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5366
 

I can see both sides of the argument.

Tab has a long history, back to Tudor times (the 16th century) and probably beyond.

Tab is great for expanding your repertoire quickly without having to work out what's going on. It's also perfect for people who can't read music fluently.

Chords are best learned by learning the shapes IMO. Licks, well Tabs are fine for learning riffs and licks because you don't have to understand the music theory behind what's going on.

On the other hand.

If you turn up for an Orchestra audition and you can only read Tab you'll be laughed out without playing a note. Little black dots have their plus points because you can take any piece of music and make a reasonable attempt at playing it. Also, if you have a piece of music in front of you that's written for piano, recorder, or Mongolian nose-flute, it ain't gonna be in Tab so you're going to be, what's the word I'm looking for here, buggered (good word) if you want to play it on the guitar but can't read the little black dots.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Advantages of tab:

1. It's really easy to learn. You can be interpreting a tune from tab after about five minutes of instruction.

Disadvantages of tab:

1. Many tabs, especially those you'll find online, have no rhythm information. You need to know how a song sounds before you can recreate it from tab.

2. Tab gives you one option to play a passage - the one that was worked out by whoever created the tab. On a guitar, you can produce a sound in 120 or more places (which requires only 19 frets, the 'standard range' of the guitar - a 24 fret guitar can get a sound 150 different ways). Of those 120-150 ways, exactly ten can be played in only one place. Since you have choices for all the rest, most melodies can be played in more than one way. Often, there's an easier way... but you'll never see that from tab.

There are a couple of other disadvantages to tab (compared to standard notation, the dots on a page that Alan referred to), but those are the ones that affect just learning to play a song.

I agree with Alan - it's easier to learn chords from fingering diagrams.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@trguitar)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3711
 

I like them however I agree with the pros. Reading standard notation would be the better skill to have. I use tabs in a limited way. A lick here or there, I like the diagrams better for chords too but tab works. In the end I play it my way. The tab does not dictate where I play the notes. If I like a different position I use it. I like to make my own leads as well. I might take a lick from one here or there. I have used standard notation too when that was available, but I'm terribly slow reading it. Oh, and lets not forget YouTube. I find videos of the artist playing the song I want and I watch their hands!

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grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
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(@rocket-dog)
Reputable Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 296
 

Yes, tab has it's place and can be quite useful. I think the cons outweigh the pros and I prefer standard notation but if someone is adamant that they do not want to learn to read music then tab will be the alternative (with all it's limitations)


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(@honeyboy)
Trusted Member
Joined: 9 years ago
Posts: 70
Topic starter  

Thanks for the responses guys. I guess they have their place and are good for getting to first base with a song or lick quickly but you won't make it all the way to home with them.

Again thanks!

Rick Honeyboy Hart

"It's about tone, taste, and technique... in that order."

http://www.bluesguitarinsider.com
http://www.rickhoneyboyhart.com


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(@fleaaaaaa)
Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 680
 

Depends on the tab you know, a tab from a book or from guitar pro is a pretty good way to go - it has all the standard notation above on the book so if you know how to read that a bit you can figure out the rhythm and it will be accurate. The guitar pro files (which you can also run with the free "Tux guitar" program) are also pretty accurate - have notation (just like a book) and you can play the song and hear what it is supposed to sound like without getting out the CD! I learned so much from using guitar pro so I would suggest trying to get Tux guitar for free or Guitar pro if you are willing to pay for it. I read music a bit but I am slow like TR and never want to play in an orchestra unlike Alan, I just use the rhythmic information from the music.

Oh and the other good tool is the one that everybody is born with but most people think they can't use:

EARS!

together we stand, divided we fall..........


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(@notes_norton)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1497
 

If I didn't know either and was about to put time in to learn, I would choose to learn standard notation instead of tabs.

Why? Some of the reasons have already been mentioned so I won't repeat them, but I might add.

1) You can read any music, almost everything is written in standard notation, only a limited amount in tab
2) You can play with other musicians, a piano player or whatever -- even with musicians who don't speak English or any other verbal language you understand.

The learning curve on notation is admittedly a little steeper, but why waste your time on tabs only to find their limitations and wish you spent that much time learning notation.

Normal notation is the lingua franca of serious musicians. Personally, I think every musician should learn how to read it.

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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(@derek-wilkerson)
Estimable Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 110
 

i'll put my 1.5 sense in..

you're more likely to find a tab for a song than sheet music because of the sheer amount of tableture being produced today.

its more likely to be free if its a tab (ultimate guitar)

sheet music, depending on who made it, is generally more accurate in terms notation, rythym, etc

sheet music is more versatile in the general music world as you can play with pretty much any instrumentation and still get the job done.

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(@matthiasyoung)
Eminent Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 34
 

From using only tablature, a student may gain a moderate amount of technical proficiency while remaining musically illiterate. Basically, there are "guitarists" who can play songs, but then there are musicians who can really play the guitar.


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(@fleaaaaaa)
Honorable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 680
 

From using only tablature, a student may gain a moderate amount of technical proficiency while remaining musically illiterate. Basically, there are "guitarists" who can play songs, but then there are musicians who can really play the guitar.

Yeah but I have met people who read music and have this syndrome too...... Some people just cant experiment.

together we stand, divided we fall..........


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(@anonymous)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 8306
 

they're useful


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(@notes_norton)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1497
 

There is a standard joke in the music business.

How do you get a guitarist to quit playing?

Put music in front of him.

Don't be the brunt of the joke, learn to read music.

And I respectfully disagree with Derek who said more music is available in TAB than in Notation, because the opposite is true. There are millions of titles in standard notation that are not in tab, and virtually everything that is in tab is also in notation somewhere.

You can get fake books with thousands of songs in them. See http://www.nortonmusic.com/mom.html - hundreds of thousands of songs here in fake book form (melody, lyrics and chords). If you can read standard notation, all the songs you ever want to play and all the songs you never want to play are available.

IMHO, if you are going to put the time in to learn it, learn standard notation.

Notes

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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(@derek-wilkerson)
Estimable Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 110
 

There is a standard joke in the music business.

How do you get a guitarist to quit playing?

Put music in front of him.

Don't be the brunt of the joke, learn to read music.

And I respectfully disagree with Derek who said more music is available in TAB than in Notation, because the opposite is true. There are millions of titles in standard notation that are not in tab, and virtually everything that is in tab is also in notation somewhere.

You can get fake books with thousands of songs in them. See http://www.nortonmusic.com/mom.html - hundreds of thousands of songs here in fake book form (melody, lyrics and chords). If you can read standard notation, all the songs you ever want to play and all the songs you never want to play are available.

IMHO, if you are going to put the time in to learn it, learn standard notation.

Notes

let me rephrase that. most of the stuff you are listening to on the radio will be more likely found in tableture than standard music

bassist for the crux
Randall RB-125-115 120 watt 15" eminence spk.
Randall RBA 500
2X Acoustic B115's
Peavey T-40
Indiana P-bass


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(@greybeard)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899
 

let me rephrase that. most of the stuff you are listening to on the radio will be more likely found in tableture than standard music

There may be more versions of a song in tab, there, I'll agree with you. However, the standard notation is far more likely to be correct.

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