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Are tabs bad?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Twospot, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. Twospot


    Jan 1, 2012
    Toms River,NJ
    I am just starting out learning the bass guitar. I have a Hal Leonard book I am starting with. I am also checking out studybass.com. However to break up the reading and note practice I want to learn some songs. I see a lot of suggestions "Oh just listen to the song and figure it out" but for me just starting out I have NO CLUE what notes are what by listening.

    I have also read a few posts that tabs are not the best way to go. Other than the actual accuracy of the transcription are there any downsides to tabs?

    I am currently working on Foolin' by Def Leppard and My Own Worst Enemy by Lit. I found out the tab I was using for the Lit song was WAY off when I checked it out in the Bass White Pages.
  2. dedpool1052


    Jan 10, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    yes and no. i started out using tabs because it was like sheet music for dummies. it helped in the sense that it gave me a bit of a head start playing, but hindered any desire/motivation to learn sheet music. although, it has helped to develop my ears for picking out inaccuracies in the tabs i was learning. all of this IME.
  3. sonofabass


    Feb 10, 2006
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Mike Lull,MXR,Gruv Gear, Mono
    I, personally, equate learning tab to learning hieroglyphics. Why exert the energy learning a form of communication that no one uses (no one in the professional world will ever...not ever, use tab) .

    Spend the time now to learn the language that will open far more doors.

    My respectful 2 cents,
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Also most tabs are wrong
  5. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Tabs bad! Tabs very bad!
  6. Twospot


    Jan 1, 2012
    Toms River,NJ
    So should I hold off on learning songs? I am not trying to rush. I want to make sure I do this right the first time and not put myself in a position to pickup bad habits. I used to play the drums. It's easy to pick out what drum to hit LOL. Its not that way on the bass for me.
  7. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    Tabs help.
    You should use every tool in your box.

    Do what you gotta do to keep playing the bass
    fun and interesting to you.
  8. sonofabass


    Feb 10, 2006
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Mike Lull,MXR,Gruv Gear, Mono
    This tip will save you loads of time an aggravation :

    Find a good, reputable teacher who has a method/curriculum not just one who plays well.

    In the interim learn by ear but don't waste time in tabs. You want to avoid going backwards. Wasting time with tabs is one sure fire way to have to go back and relearn something you can just learn now.

    There are no short cuts. Period.
  9. jabsys


    Mar 30, 2011
    Lots of tabs are wrong, just like lots of people who learn by ear learn wrong, they just don't realise it. Use tabs, but don't blindly follow them.

    I agree with the need to learn to read music, but this just makes it sound like tabs are hard to use, which isn't true.
  10. +1

    I used them when I was first starting out because I wanted to be able to play, not just do exercises.... Most of them are inaccurate, just don't use them as an end-all. Imo, they are a good starting point.
  11. You say you have no idea what notes to play, when trying to play by ear, but this is a skill that you MUST learn to develop. However, you must first learn what notes are available to you, and where they are on the instrument.
    I suggest getting a novice book, such as those offered by Mel Bay, to learn scales and such, which will do two things: help teach you to read standard notation, and, teach you where the notes are on the instrument.
    In my opinion, tabs are a bad idea, because although they can be fun they discourage ear training AND learning standard notation. Some people get hooked on them, like drugs, and can't progress further than playing songs they can find on tab.
  12. ^^^ +1,000

    You're better off just playing along to songs than wrestling with tabs. Don't have a clue which notes are which? Hunt and peck -- there's a 1-in-12 chance you'll hit the right one. When you do, you may be surprised at how quickly you find the rest.

    IMO, you're EVEN better off taking some lessons if you can afford them.

    Good luck, and welcome to the low end.
  13. Twospot


    Jan 1, 2012
    Toms River,NJ
    I will be taking lessons. There is a school near me. It is not a music store. It is strictly a facility that provides one on one instruction along with group get togethers for students to jam with other students. After the financial hit of Christmas and the wife buying me the bass for my bday I need to take a break for a few months on spending before I can drop the $110 a month but I wanted to start learning now.
  14. Twospot


    Jan 1, 2012
    Toms River,NJ
    I have started with Hal Leonard's Bass Method Book 1. That is where I am now.
  15. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    do what works for you. there is no right or wrong way. as long as you get to the destination in the end and had fun getting there.
  16. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Not bad but entirely useless in the "real world" as I experience it.
    There, Tab is never used, for that reason I would very much recommend learning to read notation and chord charts( lead sheets).
    Training your ears will also help when learning songs, because there are some situations when that is all you have. No paper just a tape or cd.
    Training your ear should really be an essential part of any ones practise routine....IMHO of course.
  17. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    TAB is like pizza. You shouldn't depend on it for your nutrition, but a piece once in a while to get you over a hard spot is OK.
  18. Tabs are a tool. A screwdriver is of little use in driving a nail. However that screwdriver does an excellent job of tightening a screw.

    Tabs are good if used for what they are intended. That IMO is to help with specific phrases or segments of a melody or scale. They are a first step to understanding how to read music, but should not be used to play a complete song. Why?

    Tabs are limiting. Playing anything by rote is limiting. Playing just by standard notation is limiting as is playing just by fake chord or lead sheet is limiting. Be open to all forms of reading and playing music. Don't limit yourself to only one way.

    If tab helps, no need to beat yourself up when using it, just recognize that there are better tools that can be used. Don't become a slave to tab.
  19. jabsys


    Mar 30, 2011
    Depends on the genre you play, I'd be surprised if 50% of musicians playing in professional rock/punk/metal bands could actually read music, judging by how bad some bands are I'd be surprised if they even knew the notes on the fretboard.
  20. RyanJD


    Apr 19, 2011
    Normally, when I play with a band I'll just use a chord chart like every one else, but recently, I tabbed our particular song I'm playing for a scholarship audition.
    I know standard notation and how to read it, write it, ect. But the thing about this song is that the timing is so weird I feel like if I tried writing it out in standard notation that I would only make unknown mistakes and have a harder time playing it.
    I would rather listen to it a lot and make sure the notes are correct and be able to feel the song so I can perform it the best I can anyways...

    And really, it's a fault of my own as to why I'm not using standard notation I guess, but, why waste time if tabbing is easier as long as you know the timing in your head?
    My tabs are written in measure format anyways, so there is a sense of timing there I suppose...

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