Discussion in 'Tablature and Notation [BG]' started by Bleached, Jan 24, 2003.

1. ### Bleached

Jan 15, 2003
Laurel Montana
Ok so this might sound stupid but I'm very new to the bass. I was wondering if anyone could tell me how, exactly, to read tabs. Don't laugh at me. Thanks for all the help.

Kory

2. ### Matthew BrysonGuest

Jul 30, 2001
tabs - the lines represent the strings on your bass - the one on the bottome is the lowest string - the fourth string (your E string) and the top is the 1st or highest string (your G). The numbers tell you what fret to play at. So:
---------------------
---------------------
------2---5----------
--3------------------

That tab would be telling you to play a G on the 3rd fret of your 4th string then play a B at the second fret of your 3rd string and then a D at the 5th fret on your 3rd string. Just don't forget, tabs only tell you where to play - not note duration or rythm or anything else. Tabs are not properly written music, only a type of finger chart. They can be a good place to start, but eventually you'll want to learn to read & write standard notation and learn to learn songs by ear. Be very carefull if you get tabs off of the web (they're usually wrong IME) Good luck and welcome to the world of bass!

3. ### Chris AChemo sucks!

Feb 25, 2000
Manchester NH
uh, tab related--down to tabs you go......

Chris A.

4. ### SuperDuck

Sep 26, 2000
Wisconsin
Hey, how come it's not "up to tabs"? Or, "over to tabs"?

Jan 2, 2001
Tallahassee, Florida
Ok man, youre not going to get much sympathy around here for asking how to read tabs and I will be the first to say you should start pointing yourself towards reading notation. But, i wanna help you becuase I know that a while ago I was reading tabs. Its very simple. Tabs are generally written using 4 lines to indicate the strings:
G -------------
D -------------
A -------------
E -------------
G is your highest string (highest meaning highest pitch, not in relation to its position on the fretboard). E is your lowest string.
You then have numbers that appear on that simple chart and they merely tell you which frets to play in relation to the sequence of notes:
G -------------7
D ----5-----5-4-
A --44----44----
E -----7-----7--
There is giant problem with this method of writing music. Theres no notation for rythm and thus you know what notes play but not how or when to play them, which is quite easily a bigger part of playing bass. I think it was someone on talkbass who said there no wrong note, just wrong time (I think it was jazzbo). A musician in this situation is forced to stare at the tab while listening to the music just to figure out the rythm when that person could have done the same thing without the tab and been improving aural and listening abilities. This is why you should really try learning to play with sheet music and how to transcribe music you listen to without tabs and pureley by ear. It will take a long time but once fully achieved (which I myself have yet to accomplish) it would be a giant leap in becoming a better musician

6. ### jani_bjorklund

May 22, 2002
Finland
Of course it's giant problem with s**t made tabs. If done properly you'll get all the information(except for rests). You'll even get the additional information exactly what strings to play. You don't have to guess. Here's an example of one of my tabs in the archives. Judge for your self!

Blue_Oyster_Cult-Don't_fear_the_reaper.btab

Basstab by Jan Bjorklund, Finland;
jani_bjorklund@yahoo.se
You are welcome to request for basstabs!
Bienvenidos a pedirme transcripciones para el bajo!

TablEdited by Jan Bjorklund
Tuning : E A D G Time Signature: 8/4

|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|------------------------2---5---|
|5-----------5---3---3-----------|1---1-------1---3---3-----------|

|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|------------------------2---5---|
|5---5-------5---3---3-------3---|1-----------1---3---3-----------|

|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|------------7-------------------|------------4-------------------|
|--------7---------------2---4---|--------2---------------2---4---|
|5---------------3---3-----------|1---------------3---3-----------|

|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|------------3-------------------|
|--------7---------------5-------|--------3---------------2---5---|
|5---------------3---3-----------|1---1-----------3---3-----------|

|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------7---------------5-------|--------3---------------2---5---|
|5---------------3---3-----------|1---1-----------3---3-----------|

|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|------------4-------------------|
|--------7/--6-----------5/--4---|--------3---------------5-------|
|5---5-----------3---3-----------|1---------------3---------------|

|--------------------------------|----------------------------5---|
|--------------------------------|--------------------5---7-------|
|----------------------------5---|------------5---7---------------|
|1-------1-------3-------3-------|5---5---------------------------|

|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|--------7-----------------------|
|8---8---8-------7---7---7-------|----------------------------2---|
|--------------------------------|5---------------3---3-----------|

|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------0---3-----------2---5---|--------7-------------------5---|
|1---1-----------3---3-----------|5---------------3---------------|

|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------0---3-----------2---5---|--------7-------------------5---|
|1---------------3---------------|5---------------3---3-----------|

|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|------------4---------------6---|--------------------------------|
|--------3---------------5-------|--------7---------------5-------|
|1---------------3---------------|5---------------3---------------|

You can wiev the whole song at:
http://www.olga.net/dynamic/browse..../b/blue_oyster_cult/dont_fear_the_reaper.btab

Jan 2, 2001
Tallahassee, Florida
How in gods name can you say that the notation that you just made can account for rythm properly. It doesnt tell you how long each note lasts. Like you said, it also tells you which strings to play, which in my understanding is a huge pitfall. One note can be played in many different places and in standard notation the position one plays in is left up to the reader to decide. If you are a much more vertical player as opposed to horizontal you are going to play things differently to accomodate a comfort level in the way you play. One would want to learn intervallic relationships without getting stuck with one particular pattern which is what tab kind of leads one to do.

8. ### SuperDuck

Sep 26, 2000
Wisconsin
Hey buoys and gulls,

Please read the forum rules at the top of the TAB forum. This is NOT the place to discuss the virtues of tabs, or the relatives weaknesses. That can be done via Private Messages or another forum.

9. ### jani_bjorklund

May 22, 2002
Finland
In the original tab (that can be found atOLGA) there's also beat markers above the bars. For some reason they don't show properly here at Talk Bass Forum. The notes naturally lasts until the next upcoming note (except for the rests). That's how simple it it to read tab.
To get it straight, I naturally also read standard notation, but since so many of us "rockers" don't, I think good tabs are great.
As for the positions, like you said it's possible to play a line in different positions but there's only one correct position and that's the position a good tab is written in. For example if you play really old stuff like "Ventures" or "Shadows" it's a major crime to skip the open strings and play in a higher position. A good tab tells you very much about a particular bassists style and habits of playing as well.

10. ### wulf

Apr 11, 2002
Oxford, UK
There isn't a universal standard for writing tab - when looking over a new piece, look to see if the author has provided any clues - for example, rhythm could be shown by marks such as 'q', 'e' and 's' (quarter note / eighth note, sixteenth note) under the fingerings, and rests could be shown by inserting 'r', rather than a number, onto the stave. But, it all depends who wrote it...

If you find a bunch of tabs by the same author, written at about the same time, you could also try looking over songs you already know in order to figure out what they mean on ones you're not familiar with (not least because this is one way to judge how accurate the author is).

Wulf

11. ### HategearWorkin' hard at hardly workin'.

Apr 6, 2001
Appleton, Swissconsin
Some of you people don't give tabbers enough credit. We're not all Fieldy wannabes. I know that if a tab indicates that an E be played on the seventh fret of the A string, I can also play the open E string, I can play the 12th fret of the E string, I can play the second fret of the D string, I can play the ninth fret of the G string, etc. I also understand that for the most part, tab does not help you with rhythms and note duration, but you'll get that from listening to the song and playing along. How many cover bands have you playing songs that you've never heard before? If a song is tabbed incorrectly, I can hear it and make the appropriate changes. I have never said, "That note doesn't sound right, but the tab says it's right, so it must be right." To me, tabs are a valid way of learning how to play a song, which is all some people are after when they pick up a bass.

I don't have a problem with someone suggesting to a tabber that they learn SN. When that suggestion turns into an argument, that's when I have a problem.