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Kicking Tab Habits

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BassPlayingCat, May 26, 2011.

  1. I'm a semi-pro player working almost full time with music stuff, all bass work, and my big goal at the moment is to learn to plau fluently with a stave. I did the easy thing when I started playing by learning tab after tab and now it's coming back to bite me in the arse.

    I can already read bass clef from my trombone days and I am working very hard to find a good way of weaning myself off tabs; being in a functions band with a vastly widening repertoire makes it a tough job to kick the habit as tabs are so easy in a hurry.

    Does anyone have good techniques on switching? So far I've been learning scales, arps, a few songs, etc from some of my old trombone music as it obviously doesn't have the tab underneath but my brain is finding it tough work to translate the notes on the stave to the notes on the neck, even though I'm familiar with both!

  2. dmrogers

    dmrogers Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Eastman, GA
    Practice, pure and simple.

    I never got into the tab thing, but last year after playing all my life, I decided I really needed to learn to read.

    I'm still learning! However, I can now look at a piece of music and after practicing it for a while, I can get it!

    The more I study, the easier it gets. I have got a long way to go, but the hardest part was starting.

    I highly recommend this book. Even though you can read and know the notes on the neck, having a structured book to practice on should help a lot. It also has a CD.

    Another thing I do when I get a little bored with the book is download guitar pro files of songs I want to practice on and load them into tuxguitar. I can then print out the music for the bass parts and start practicing.

    Good luck!
  3. I thought you would have received more action on this.... so .......
    Those of us that use fake chord and lead sheet end up making our own bass lines from the chords shown. Roots, fives, eights and the correct 3 will play a lot of bass and we have some favorite combinations in muscle memory. Recognize what chord is being called for, grab one of our favorite chord arpeggios and let muscle memory move us into the groove.

    Couple of weeks ago I was looking at our church hymnal and making bass lines for a few gospel songs we use to close each session with. Of course I was using piano sheet music. Looking at the bass clef, lowest note, I was amazed that 85 to 90% of this is root, fives, eights and then maybe a correct 3 will creep into the music.

    My point - If you are not hung up on being exact I think you could glance over the standard notation right at first to get a view of what will be happening and then make some notations in the margins --- this may help to pick out the patterns that will be repeating.

    Step 1. Use standard notation bass clef to find what chords are being used in each measure. Notate them in the margins, i.e. make your own fake chord sheet music, then use the standard notation notes to flesh out your fake chord's tones. Best of both worlds, IMHO.

    Good luck.
  4. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    practice rhythm reading separate from playing notes on the instrument ...clap rhythms etc ......that will fast track you!
  5. teleharmonium


    Dec 2, 2003
    In my experience consistent practice each day, even if it's not that much time, is better than sporadic cram sessions. There is science that backs this up. 10 minutes with no distractions dedicated to reading music before you go to work or whatever, and another 10 minutes in the evening, should do the trick, maybe sooner than you think.
  6. I can play with chord sheets and play great making lines around what I'm given but I really want to be able to play exactly what is written in front of me, as I may be interested in session work later down the line. I practise pretty much every day anyway so I'm more just shifting focus.

    I will start using Guitar Pro again and will have a look at the book you mentioned. I've scrambled around and found some beginners books from my early days and I'm going right from basics with those and covering up the tab sections underneath the staves which is pretty helpful =]

    Cheers for the words of advice guys =]
  7. Popbumper


    Jul 19, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    After several months of playing tab (as both an exercise and experience to play along) I have now turned to basics - learning roots, fifths, flat sevenths, sixths, etc. As a beginner it is REALLY opening my eyes to WHY I am playing what the tab shows as opposed to just repetitive motion.

    Unlike the OP, my struggle is the bass clef; while I have been a musician all my life, it's been in TREBLE clef, so now those dam* "C" notes I was used to are now "A" notes, etc. (maybe I got even that wrong, supporting my struggle comment). THIS will be my biggest hurdle - reading the notes.

    Practicing EVERY day....it makes a BIG difference!

  8. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Not to be cheeky, but . . . . .

    Stop reading tab.

    . . . . Ok, another thing I found helpful was to read through something and never look back. If I make mistakes, I don't go back and correct them. Just barrel through it with a metronome. You can set it slower than the normal speed. Just don't look at that piece of music again until you've cycled through the rest of the sheet music you own.

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