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The Guitar: The Truth About Guitar TAB
Guitar TAB ... is it the greatest thing since guitar strings
beginning guitar player? Many people will tell you
it is ... so
here's a few thoughts to help you "pin your ears on
before you make your own mind up.
Many people tout TAB as the newest approach to playing
But contrary to popular belief TAB or finger notation has
around since the 1500’s. Early examples can be
found in Italian,
French and German lute tablatures.
The lute is a six stringed instrument and predecessor to the
guitar that became the favorite instrument of Western Europe
during the Renaissance period
TAB can also be found as a form of communication amongst
"fringe - dweller" stringed instruments, such as the banjo
the pedal steel guitar.
So don't be fooled by TAB. It’s not new and
it’s not the answer
to every guitarist’s needs.
What is TAB ?
TAB or Tablature is a method of writing down music played on
guitar or bass.
Instead of using symbols like in standard musical notation,
uses ordinary numbers.
What TAB will
tell you ...
TAB will tell you what notes to play - it will tell you which
string to play and which fret to press the string
TAB will sometimes give you an indication of the rhythm of the
piece i.e., it may tell you which notes are long notes and
notes are the short notes.
However it will not tell you exactly how long or how short
What TAB will
not tell you ...
TAB generally will not tell you the duration of the notes -
most cases you will "have" to listen to the song yourself,
the TAB in front of you to work out the rhythm of the notes.
TAB will not tell you which finger you use to fret each note.
Tab usually will not tell you anything about picking and
strumming - you will have to decide for yourself where to use
upstrokes / down strokes and so on.
you rely on TAB?
To read or not to read...that is the question.
Should you learn to read TAB or standard music notation?
many a valid argument for and against reading TAB or standard
notation. The answer rests entirely in the following questions
and how you answer them:
(a) Do you want to know what you're doing? Yes or No
(b) Do you simply want to copy others? Yes or No
(c) Do you only want to play music that has been played on the
guitar? Yes or No
If you answered no to question number one and yes to questions
two and three, then TAB is for you. There’s no need
to read any
further and I wish you all the best with your guitar playing.
But if you want to learn more about your options, read on ...
The guitar player who only reads TAB has to contend with the
following issues :
This player can only play songs that have been played on the
Remember, TAB is a way for guitarists to communicate ideas
themselves, so one of its major drawbacks is that it only
In short, it’s a closed world a sort of 'guitar
Since other instruments (piano, saxophone, drums, etc.) do not
use TAB, the "TAB only" guitarist is limited to playing music
that has been exclusively performed on the guitar.
Another issue to consider is that anything you write in guitar
TAB will not communicate anything to non-guitarists. For
a pianist will have no idea what you have written since a
doesn't have frets!
A third problem is that you don't know which TAB version is
Since there are many different ways of playing the same
idea on a guitar, how do you know which TAB version is the
correct one you are hearing on the recording ?
Let’s face it. If we typed in the song "Hotel
any TAB site we would be confronted with at least 21 different
versions of the same song.
Keep in mind that many of these TAB versions have been
by players with very little musical experience.
Suffice it to
say that can be disappointing. There’s
certainly room for
O.K you can see that the "Truth about TAB" is that, taken by
itself TAB is neither good nor bad. However, if
it’s the only way
you receive information about the guitar it can be extremely
I do recommend learning how to read standard music notation?
Ultimately it does have many advantages to someone who plans
play the guitar well on a long-term basis. High speed reading
and recall of standard music notation is just one of the
essential skills the advancing guitarists needs to acquire.
But the bottom line is:
best music comes from inside yourself - not from TABS
LEARN TO PLAY - THEN LEARN TO READ
How to Play Guitar
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