Tabs=evil for new sheet readers?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Akeno, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. Akeno


    Jun 14, 2008
    Yeah. When I moved to playing bass, I promised myself I would read sheet music. It just doesn't feel right when you play bass and you can't read sheet music.

    Gah. I'm using those "Learn Bass By Yourself" books, and it's such a pain for them to have tabs. My eyes start to shift whenever I get in a tough spot, and when I look at the tabs, I feel like I'm not learning anything at all.

    Anyone else sort of feel this way?
  2. GianGian


    May 16, 2008
    Tabs are good for starters...but bad for longtime players. When I am practising my sight reading, which i svery much needed, I always find some random standard notation on the bass clef that has no tab on the bottom, otherwise I will just look at the tab, it is instinctive.
  3. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    You can tape strips of paper over them if it's too tempting.

    Tabs do some serve purpose. They make it easy to see the fingerings in a hurry, and if you know how the song goes and are trying to play at tempo, say, in the studio or live, there's nothing wrong with them. They're a tool. I think sheet music is a better tool, but saying they're evil is like saying a shovel is evil because there also exist bulldozers. It depends on what you're trying to do.
  4. I've found the same thing while learning to read.
    I use some masking tape and just tape over it, the tab can still be read if you really try, but its not obvious enough to get in the way.
  5. BillyRay


    Jan 20, 2008
    Tabs aren't a tool most of the time though, they are a crutch. Your analogy would be better if you said that tabs were like a kitchen knife on a construction site. It shouldn't be used since it's not the right tool but it can do in a pinch for a screwdriver if you need a quick repair. Newbies will sometimes go to great lenghts to NOT learn how to read (glancing at tab for fingerings + sheet for rythmn) while it would just be easier to learn how to sight-read decently. Especially since it takes, at the very most, two weeks putting in an hour a day to become functionnal (not good, mind you, only hard hous makes your reading fluent). When you see people laboring weeks, if not months, on complicated techniques or pieces, you figure they could prioritize it for a while in their practice scheldule...
  6. BillyRay


    Jan 20, 2008
    Getting sheet music or books that simply do NOT have tab is usually the best option. That or completly obscuring the tabs. Electrical tape will do and it'll insure you'll neve rbe able to take it off to "peak" since it'll rip the page ;)
  7. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
    I hate TAB.
    It takes me just as long to figure out tab as Std notation and I don't get the rhythm .
    On the bright side, it does sometimes suggest different fingerings than I might chose otherwise.
  8. ysand


    Mar 26, 2005
    What i do is weird, i'm "reading" both!
    I really haven't got used to recognizing fast which note it is from the std notation sheet. I look at the tab to see which one it is, but i can at the same time "read" the other things of the std notation sheet, like the duration etc.
    I'm weird, i read both simultaneously!
  9. I can't read tab as the font is usually too small... I can though pick out where the dots are on the staff... far easier to read once you throw away the tab crutch...

    blame guitarists for tab... and usenet...
  10. Tabs doesn't make sense to me, I can't for the life of me understand how peeps can make music out of those, there's no rhythm notation.. useless...

    Mask the tabs with paper, and take a new copy of the sheet (where the tabs will be gone then) if the tabs distract you.

  11. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    Piano players does this all the time when they play sheet music with both bass and treble clefs and there's often chords written out as well. Bassists actually have it pretty easy when there's usually just one note a time to play... That said, my reading sucks badly, including reading tabs. Funny thing I'm much better at reading a melody in treble clef than a walking bassline in bass clef. Strange...
  12. magickbass

    magickbass Guest

    May 24, 2008
    I have a Sharpie wide marker, whenever I buy a book that has tab I take the time to go through mark all of it out. It does tend to seep through the page a little so don't go heavy with it or the material on the back of the page will be unreadable.
  13. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Tab can be helpful to show a fingering, sometime adding fingering to standard notation can get right messy. The big problem with TAB is they become heroin for so many players. They become lazy and don't want to do the work necessary to become a real player. As soon as they have to play something there is no TAB for they panic.

    Learning to read teaches time and how beats relate because you see them. It helps with theory seeing it graphically. It forces your to learn your fretboard and feel of your instrument because you can't look at your neck and the music at the same time. Then the basic fact reading gives you a money making skill. When rent is due and stardom hasn't knocked on your door you can take the call for a casual and avoid the day-job.
  14. Thunderthumbs73

    Thunderthumbs73 Supporting Member

    May 5, 2008
    Don't use a book that has tabs if you don't want to fall back on tabs. I'm not sure if you can find one without tabs, but I would THINK there would be a method book out there which doesn't have tabs.

    Another thought- put post it note-type materials over the tab sections to hide them, and just use some self-control. I know you can do it!

    Lastly, use the tabs to get you started on the bass just enough to get your bearings and then move to traditional notation. Trust me, you will still have PLENTY of opportunity to work hard to play through music at every point in your bass playing.
  15. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I think of tab like phonics or those pronunciation guides in the kid's dinosaur books. You know : "BRAWN-TUH-SORE-US" or "TRY-SARA-TOPS"

    at first I thought "why don't they just spell it like it sounds?" but eventually the awesome utility of being able to really read English won out.

    Same goes for TAB. Makes sense for someone with no information about how to finger a note, but once you learn to decipher notation -however slowly- you're better off dropping it.
  16. Most publishers are not doing bassists (and guitarists) a service by printing most popular song transcriptions with TAB. We shouldn't have to go through and white out or cover all the extra TAB staves and they are a distraction. However, popular demand always wins and the "lazy" musicians get what they want and we (and they) all suffer for it.

    If you plan on learning to read real (traditional) music notation, get some trombone books, Carol Kaye books or something without TAB. It will be much easier to focus without having the TAB there and you will improve much quicker.
  17. Valerus


    Aug 4, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    Tabs are fine, I just think reading sheet music is a lot more efficient and time-worthy.
  18. Thunderthumbs73

    Thunderthumbs73 Supporting Member

    May 5, 2008
    +1 to trombone books. Love em- helps my playing and also my reading. I recommend an etude here and there for my students once in a while.
  19. Thunderthumbs73

    Thunderthumbs73 Supporting Member

    May 5, 2008
    Another thing is who says tabs are always correct? Sometimes there could be errors in them. Also sometimes it is nice to have a note or passage and to try to figure out, given your knowledge of the neck, how to get from point A to point B. Tabs shortcut that important learning process by "choosing" that pathway, and where to fret for you. There is most often, more than one way to do something on a bass, and it's good to know those ways, rather than just the one.

    Tabs are ok to get you started in lieu of any other instruction. I'm not saying that they have no value. I do believe at a certain point, they're a crutch, unfortunately if you rely on them to help you do what notation can do.

    The bottom line is if it helps you get started or off the starting block with learning and playing, I guess I'd have a hard time arguing against it, strictly speaking. But then go the notation...

    Good luck with it.
  20. DaneB


    May 25, 2008
    Western Australia
    I've tried so many times to learn standard notation, but it's so difficult because all the music I have has tab. I can fairly efficiently read the tab and notation to figure out the rhythm and what sort of note it is and such. I'll get around to beating it into my head one day...