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What's wrong with tabs?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Tom Crofts, Apr 6, 2001.

  1. Tom Crofts

    Tom Crofts

    Mar 15, 2001
    Why does everyone keep dissing tabs, it's cheap (free from sites and stuff), it's easy to understand, it's quick to learn, you don't need to know anything about notes (although it helps generally) and there are loads of other reasons why tabs are good...
  2. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Dont worry. there is absolutely nothing wrong with tabs. The "techno-snobs" get all up in arms because tabs are anti-technical. They claim you will always suck as a bass player if you use them. So, if you just want to have fun, learn stuff you enjoy, and make the most of it without becoming a damned student, then tabs should be just fine.
  3. Tom Crofts

    Tom Crofts

    Mar 15, 2001
    Yeah that's my way of seeing it, me and my friend both starting playing with the idea of starting a band with me playing bass and him playing guitar, he played harmonica (badly) and I played sax for a while (didn't learn music though, or if I did I've forgotten it all). Through tabs and teaching ourselves we've learnt more and are better players than guitarists who have been playing for 4 or 5 years. We've been playing for 4 or 5 months.

    Thank you tab.
  4. ASR


    Apr 2, 2001
    Houston, Texas
    Tabs do not hurt anything. Just don't trust every tab site out there. I see more mistakes in most of them than good material, but they do give you a good basis to start from. Another good idea would be to try to figure out the music out first, in order to train your ear, then use the tabs if you get stuck in a certain spot. Do yourself a favor though, and learn to read music. In the long run, you will be thankful that you did. In order to really grasp the concept of harmonizing, key signatures, and most other aspects of composing music, you will find that reading music helps a lot. I should follow my own advice, though. I can read it, but it takes me as long to get through it as a kindergaten kid reading a Dean Koontz novel.
  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Anything that keeps you interested in playing music and enjoying playing an instrument is okay with me. Some very good players don't even bother to learn how to read tab notational symbols and play by ear, but they are the exceptions.

    However, (there's that word), if you keep playing and want to grow, I think you will eventually hit a wall. If you want to see what I mean, take a look at the 4 page thread on tabs in Jeff Berlin's Forum. He articulates it extremely well and the comments are more pro-notation rather than anti-tablature.
  6. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Tabs aren't all that bad. But standard notation is just a lot better. Helluva lot better. But also harder to learn.
  7. but how easy is it to get a song of more popular genres in standard notation? .....?

    i always end up writing it from tab or from ear into notation. i think they should have an easier way to get notation onto an archive (ie: basstabarchive). writing and scanning makes busy work.
  8. Tabs are tabs but don't delude yourself into thinking that they aren't going to replace standard notation, and if you want to be a working bassist reading tab is not going to be a helpful skill. I recently had to do a last minute fill in job on a musical, "Jaque Brel is alive and Well....", for a bassist who had said that they could read and thought that the musical would be written in tab,

    Say it together "DOH !".

    He was actually there whan I arrived and was pissed that the score wasn't available in tab and said that I had stolen his gig because he could probably have "gotten through it anyway" with out reading skills. As it was 10 minutes until curtain I suggested that he stick around and we could talk about it later, he did and realized the error of his ways, but he tried to point out what he thought was a mistake on my part but was informed by the pianist/bandleader that he and the rest of the orchestra had missed the cue but that I had caught it.

    If you are just in it for fun, great have a good time. If you are serious about being the best player that you can you will need to learn to read standard notation.
  9. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I'm not really anti-tab, but I've been a working musician for over 20 yrs and I can tell you that you need to develop skills that will benefit you in the long run, especially if you plan to make it a lifetime vocation or hobby, and plan to involve yourself in many different genres of music. Tab's value is debatable, but ear training isn't. Ear training is an absolute must. My take on this is that any time you spent learning a piece with tab could have been learned by ear. Due to tab's limitations, you'll have to use a certain amount of "ear" to get the tune anyway. Work on the skills that'll do you some good.
  10. Funky Dung

    Funky Dung

    Mar 25, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I've only been playing for about a week and I already know the massive problems with tab. Timing is hard as hell. There's no sense of rhythm in tab, even when the beats are marked on top. Add to that the fact that most tab on the 'net is either wrong or way more difficult than it needs to be. If the authors had any sense of musical notes and how to play them on a bass, they'd write better tab that doesn't involve moving from G3 to A11 in the blink of eye or some other silliness.

    Don't get me wrong - I use tab allmost exclusively right now. I can't read music (yet), so I need tab just to play. Plus, you can't beat no cost and easy access. :) Standard notation often expensive and/or hard to find. I fully intend to learn how to read music, but right now I'd like to be able to play <b>something</b>. In the long run, though I plan to only use tab when I can't get the sheet music or figure out the line for myself.

    I hope this helps. I figured you might be willing to listen to a fellow beginner. :)

    Good luck :D
  11. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I didn't even know what tab was until I'd been playing about 3 years. I completely disagree that you need tab to be able to play right now. Just play it. Sit down with the bass, and just play. What you're playing isn't going to make sense, but you're going to develop an ear for your instrument. Tabs will hinder this development. All you'll develop an ear for is basslines you already have an ear for. You won't become familiar with the neck. If you don't have a teacher yet (notice I say yet) than just doodle around on it. I firmly believe that that is better than playing tabs.
  12. JWC

    JWC Banned

    Oct 4, 2000
    actually, some tabs (all the Rush ones) have the rythm above the notes you play. it tells you which notes are quarters, wholes, eights, etc. to me, that is all you need.
  13. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Yeah, I agree. Please dont rely on tabs. I've been responding to these posts very pro-tab, but I do think you must put them in their limited place. They are a small but helpful tool to speed up the learning of cover songs. Nothing more and nothing less. You cant learn how to play bass with them from scratch, but you can accelerate your ability to play things you enjoy and therefore be more pleased with your progress.
  14. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    Tabs are a useful shortcut if you just want to learn a fav song. A lot of them can be really wrong though, I have a terrible ear and I even I can pick out all sorts of mistakes in them.
  15. Funky Dung

    Funky Dung

    Mar 25, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I'm only using tab right now so I can play some favorites and jam a little with a friend's band. I'm working on learning the neck backward, forward, upside down, and sideways. ;)

    I do have a teacher (sort of). I have neither the time nor the money for a professional teacher. A good friend of mine will be teaching me soon. In the meantime I practice for about an hour every day by myself.
  16. I can't honestly say tabs are bad , it's how I started to learn playing and I picked up alot from it but I eventually hit a wall where I felt as though I had plateaued....however , I am and was at the time activly listening to players suck as Victor Wooten , Les Claypoole and Stanley Clarke thinking about how I wasn't happy with my overall ability , so I started learning my scales and modes and all that happy stuff and got stuck in the rut of constantly playing in patterns ( for improv it's bad....mmkay..) But I recently took time to teach myself to read and began playing classical pieces arranged for chello and trombone ( my former instrument ) and it all fell into place.... soooooo tabs are allright but you have to grow so learn to read.
  17. Tabs would be a lot better if everyone used timing in writing them, like I do. I put 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & on the top so you can play it without listening to the song. Unfortunately, you can't have 32nd notes or triplets, which makes notation MUCH better. But if you need to write something down quick or need a fast way to show your guitar player how to play something, tabs are great.
  18. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    probably the biggest reason is because you can't learn the song accurately and completely with tabs alone. you need the recording or the notation to get the whole story, either of which alone is enough (along with a bit of skill) to learn the song without tabs.

    it's like asking why there are no "paint by numbers" paintings in most art galleries.
  19. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    you know, maybe it's just me, but when i started playing, i learned all the songs that i liked from the recordings by ear and from standard notational books (not tabs).

    i learned practically every rush song up to presto that way, along with pretty much every iron maiden song up to 7th son, most zep tunes, most megadeth songs up to so far so good so what, most who songs up to who are you, and lots others. i made a bunch of money during college in cover bands playing these songs.

    in fact, learning songs off of recordings was one of the biggest ways i learned how to play, especially the rush and maiden stuff. i took lessons from a guitar teacher for theory, but all of my rudimentary technique stuff and ear training came from learning these songs. i would take rush and maiden albums (and later on some stanley clarke and chick corea albums) and learn them front to back by ear.

    i guess i'm just wierd.
  20. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    i used tabs briefly when i started playing. then i quickly found out that it was easier (for me) to learn by ear. Plus I found that most of the tabs i used were wrong.

    and like john turner, i have been learning alot of maiden stuff...damn they hurt...and just started delving into some early rush tunes...

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