Do you recommend tabs for a learner?

Discussion in 'Tablature and Notation [BG]' started by ironmaidenisgod, Jun 6, 2004.

  1. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    Listen dudes,I've been trying to play the fast "Two Minutes to Midnight" part( "the glamour,the fortune,the fame") for some time and was wondering whether it is advisable to learn tabs for it.I know most people say that tabs can never help you get the same satisfaction you get once you figure out the song by yourself.This this is strange situation.Should I wait until I learn to play by ear or should I look at the tabs? :help:
  2. It's always best to learn a song by ear, and the satisfaction IS greater. But for your situation, I would suggest going ahead for the tab.

    Atleast put some time into learning the song by ear, but once you reach the point where you are pulling your hair out trying to find the right notes, then go for the tab. " I see what Steve is doing..."

    What I do, at least. It helps. Once your ears are better, then try spending more time learning by ear. Basicly, use tabs as a walking stick when you are a beginner.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That makes no sense whatsoever - so how is your ear going to get better, if you give up every time it gets too hard? This is exactly why you shouldn't use tabs, as it just stops your ear developing!!

    It's only by keeping going at the stuff that is hard, that means you get any better!!
  4. I used tabs all the time. I would listen to the song, spend some time transcribing it, and when I got stuck, I would cheat and find the tab on the net. But I wouldn't just use the tab for the easy way out, I would learn from it. I remember I seemed to have a knack for transcribing stuff a 4th below :meh: but tabs made me realize my error.

    Now I don't even use tabs anymore, I just learn it all by ear. Basslines, that is. For guitar solos I go straight to the tab...that stuff is too fast, and I have nothing to slow it down with. :D
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    So, think how much more quickly you could have progressed if you never used Tabs and only used your ear ?

    Each time you give up, you are just holding yourself back and not developing as a player. Whereas every time you learn something by ear you are developing this skill. Every time you give up and run to Tab you are wasting the opportunity to get better!! :meh:

    Add to that, the fact that most Tab on the net is innacurate and almost certainly showing you poor fingering - so you are very likely to pick up bad habits along with losing the opportunity to develop your ear further....
  6. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Go ahead and use the tab but don't forget to keep listening back to the recording of the song to make sure you're going in the right direction. Even if the tab is made from the same recording as you've got, it's unlikely to capture everything about the song and may well have at least a few inaccuracies. Out of interest, where is the tab you are talking about?

    However, even if the tab is perfect, it's not going to automatically give you the sound and stamina of Steve Harris. You'll have to put in plenty of work to get there - and devoting a proportion of that to ear training (learning to listen in detail and pick out what is going on, among other things) will be invaluable in that.

  7. As a beginner myself, I would say you should continue to learn to play by ear only if:
    1. You have loads of time
    2. You will not get bored even after times and times of listening to the tune and not being able to play it.

    As for me, the satisfaction of playing the song together with my band, is almost as good as transcribing the song by ear. So most of the time, I give myself a time limit, and after that, I will learn by tab/notation.

    One thing I found useful though, before you go to find tab/notation, have you own answers first, just play some notes, and guess that what he is playing, then get the answers, and compare. Well, if you did not have your own answers, and then goes straight to the correct answers, not much is learned in the process...

  8. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It definitely helps to spend some time with the song, trying to figure it out by ear, before looking at tab (or any other written notation). You should be able to get the overall shape of the song even if the details remain fuzzy.

    Some form of notation (of which tabs are a very internet friendly and thus readily available form) can help tidy things up. Knocking your ideas of how it works against what someone else has written down is a very effective way of learning which is why it's good to spend time on the song yourself before resorting to the 'cheat sheets'. As kiwlm says, "have you[r] own answers first."

    However, you need to keep coming back to listening - both to the original track and also to the sound you are getting. Unless you're in some kind of "note for note" tribute band, capturing the spirit of the song is often preferable to mechanically reproducing every part of the original performance.

  9. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    Guess I'll look at the tabs then.I've been trying for days.
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well're only cheating yourself...the more you work on ear training, the better you get...:meh:

    Give up and you have lost that opportunity to improve...

  11. Just my two cents since I am more or less in the same boat as you ear training wise.

    I have only ever seen one tab that was 100% correct and that was Happy Birthday. How would you know if the Tab is wrong? Plus with out any kind of beat signature I don't get much from Tabs anyway.
  12. I think this is sort of different for pros and beginners, I am a beginner, and sometimes when I ear transcribe a song, I dun really know if I have played the right thing or not. If I do not look at the tabs, I would have played the wrong thing over and over again. But after I look at the tabs, I see where I am wrong, maybe I mistaked a 4th for a 5th, and then I realize that I always made that mistake, so next time I will be more careful.

    Its just like doing multiple choice exercises in the school, we can try as hard to guess the answer, but at the end of the day, we still need to know the "real" answer, so we can really improve. If we never get to know the "real" answer... :ninja:
  13. That's what I was trying to get at.

    True, but I just enjoy playing music. I don't like sitting down and listening to a 2 second passage...hitting pause..doodling on my bass..hit rewind..and do it all over again a few more times. I COULD have learned quicker, but the process wouldn't have been much fun.

    And why bother with music if it isn't fun? :bassist:
  14. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    The million dollar question is how ironmaidenisgod feels about the song now he's had time to work with the tabs? Was it the squishy sweet land of milk and honey you hoped for or did they not live up to expectations?

  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    But that only works if the Tab is correct!! :meh:

    So, what if the Tab has mistakes (very likely!!) or inefficient fingering? So - you could be learning bad habits or even worse, you could become used to hearing the wrong notes and that could hold you back for many years, labouring under a misconception...

    The only way you can be 100% confident of knowing that you have got it right, is to develop your ear so that you know that what you are playing matches what you are hearing - so you might as well forget about the Tab and concentrate on your ear.
  16. Bruce,

    There are websites where the tab archives have been rated by users based on accuracy, so you know beforehand if the tab is good or not.

    For example, has a HUGE archive of tabs, and the tabs are rated on a scale of 1-5 by users based on accuracy.

    But I will admit that there are not tabs for every song, so you DO need to have a good ear. That's why i started to develop mine. I started to get into the import scene and lo and behold there were no tabs for the songs on the net, so i had to transcribe by ear.
  17. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    Though I said I'll look at the tabs,I've decided to give it a few more days before I actually do so.
  18. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    I'll tell you something funny though.Me and my guitarist did Paschendale from DOD a few days ago.We did it on the key of E and it sounded perfect.Now the tabs show it's on F.Can somebody help me on this?

    I played


    for the intro.

    The tabs show


    Forgive me if I'm totally off track.This'll give me a good idea whether or not to go 4 tabs.
  19. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Did the tab specify which recording it came from? Also, there wasn't an instruction to tune down a semitone, was there? That would shift all the notes a fret higher.

    Of course, it may well be a duff tab. Unfortunately I don't know the song and so can't help further.

  20. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    There was no such instruction.

    Thanks anyway,wulf.