whats wrong with tabs?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by fretbuzz, Aug 28, 2001.

  1. fretbuzz

    fretbuzz Guest

    ive quickly found that tabs are a 4 letter word at talkbass. i understand that point of view. however, one thing that ive learned is that for every BASS music or songbook available for purchase, i see about 10 or 20 guitar books on the store shelves. ive found this to be very frustrating. can i read standard notation? sure i can. but when you just want to learn a song that you like, and a tab is all that can be found, it looks pretty good. i agree that posting "tab ------ 4 me please" is wasting everybodys time. but tabs in general are a big help when theres nothing else available. (just a newbies point of view)
  2. melvin

    melvin Guest

    Apr 28, 2001
    Theres a thread almost the exact same as this still here. Its only a few threads down. Its called "can somebody please tell me why..."
  3. fat-bottom

    fat-bottom Guest

    Apr 2, 2001
    Portland, Oregon
    Assuming you want to play out with many other musicians, TAB is useless in terms of communicating the language of music.

    If you're going to play a tune you know in Ab and the sax player knows in F, are you going to hand him your Ab tab sheet?

    If it is decided to play the tune in F and you only know the tune from your Ab tab sheet, what will you do,...... go wait in the car till it's over?

    NO!!! Forget tab and learn the tune from your ear or traditional written form.

    Tab is for players who love their diaper and are afraid to go poop like a big people!
  4. APouncer

    APouncer Guest

    Nov 3, 2000
    Lancashire, UK
    I think learning tunes by ear is the easiest way to cope with having to transcribe them when different people know them in different keys, but I find tab can be an aid to learning the song by ear.
  5. fat-bottom

    fat-bottom Guest

    Apr 2, 2001
    Portland, Oregon
    How do you think people learned other people's songs before TAB?


    Hold you bass. Play along with the CD. Use your brain and your ear to figure out what's going on. Play it over and over.

    If you can't learn a tune this way, give it up. This is not for you.
  6. fretbuzz

    fretbuzz Guest

    THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT TJAY. since im having trouble, i think ill just quit.
  7. Mikey96

    Mikey96 Guest

    TJay is always delicate with his words this is not typical of him, he just wanted to sort the mice from the men I guess.

    But I have to agree everyone should at least attempt to learn the song by ear at the start, and if you truly can not (I only started at the 10 month mark to really be able to pick the song out by ear) then tab it, but always give it a shot
  8. kasuals

    kasuals Guest

    Jul 20, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    If you let people like this get to you, you'll never progress as a musician. Do what you feel is right. Either you will make something of it, or you won't.

    As long as you are enjoying it, don't let anyone rain on your parade. They aren't worth it.

    If you play by the rules, you'll only be as good as those who do. There are no rules to music. There is theory, but even that can limit your imagination and creativity. (It will provide you with a foundation however) Do what you want, and do it because you love it, not because some stuff-shirt says it's the right way.


    I feel much better now.
  9. fat-bottom

    fat-bottom Guest

    Apr 2, 2001
    Portland, Oregon
    I hope this isn't another "learning theory will ruin you as a musician" post. Kinda like learning to read books will kill you as a creative writer.
    I'm not a "stuff shirt". I just hate to see guys go down the TAB road before learning to play by ear.
    Playing by ear is hearing a line and having the ability to figure it out and play it, not hoping you can recognize it someday in TAB. To me, this is incredibly obvious. Anybody who plays any improvised music has to have this skill.
    By the way, how did musicians learn others musician's parts before TAB?
  10. Hey T-Jay it takes some ppl a long time to be able to pick up a tune just by listening and by the way before tab ppl probably used sheet music to play other ppls songs not just listening to them! so lay off tabs are a great way to get into bass/guitar playing and later after playing for a while then ppl can move on to your suggested ways. :mad: :cool: :p
  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    My man Freddy,

    though I don't want to publicly call you a fool, as you did to TJay, I do want to let you know that you're seriously misguided in your thinking.

    First, we've been through this before, TABs are a crutch, and useless in a group situation (as TJay pointed out). For those of you who claim that TABs can give you an insight to how the player played the part, that holds no water unless you got the original player to TAB it for you.

    Then there's the whole rhythmic mystery. TABs give you no insight to the rhythms of the part. Totally useless unless you're quite familiar with the tune.

    And you can add the effort. If you spent the time it took you to learn TAB on learning standard notation, you'd be much further along. You'd be able to stand your own in ANY musical situation, you'd have a much better grasp on musical concepts.

    As far as the comment that "if you play by the rules, you're only as good as those who do", that's just crazy. Did Frank Zappa play by the rules? Bela Bartok? Steve Vai? Satriani? Stu Hamm? Marcus Miller? That argument holds no water.

    TJay is no fool, I can tell you that.
  12. Oysterman

    Oysterman Guest

    Mar 30, 2000
    Enjoyed your post, Jon, and I agree, with the exception of:

    TAB can easily be written so that it includes an "insight to the rhythms of the part". I've e.g. seen a lot of Rush bass tabs written in this fashion:

      e e e q e e e
    Where w = whole note, h = half, q = 1/4, e = 1/8 etc. If it's dotted, it's written with the capital letter, if it's a tie to the next bar, it's written with a +, such as "e+ (bar line) q" or whatever.

    But (at LEAST) 95% of all TAB isn't written like this. And sheet music is STILL easier to read than complicated tab, when you get to know it well. :p
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY


    A few points:

    1) Since the advent of Rock music (and before that, jazz and blues) there has been precious little "sheet music" available that would allow someone to play the popular music they were hearing from recordings or on the radio...and what sheet music existed for this purpose was often ludicrously inaccurate. What existed mostly in sheet music in the 50's, 60's, 70's etc (i.e. before INTERNET TABZZZ) was incredibly lame piano arrangements of pop and rock tunes that were popular on the radio. These were usually notated on a grand staff with basic guitar chord charts above the staff to show the basic chord structure of the song for those who didn't want to read the watered-down arrangement note for note. For the most part, the melodies were basically accurate (if soulless), but the rest of the arrangements were a pitiful compromise at best. In the business, we call these kind of charts "CHUMP CHANGES", because if you try to play a song by following the chords on these charts, you'd sound like a CHUMP.

    What's my point? My point is that people who were REALLY PLAYING the stuff they were hearing on their records or on the radio were indeed FIGURING IT OUT BY EAR.

    2) As regards rhythm, I second what POKEMON said.

    3) Do you really think beginning a post with :mad: TJ=FOOL :mad: is wise? TJ may have been a bit harsh in his response to the original poster, but that certainly doesn't make him a FOOL. Not only that, but by writing things like TJ=FOOL, you are inviting the righteous wrath of the local moderator, FIST A:rolleyes: , who tends to whip out the dreaded ROLLEYES SMACKDOWN pretty darn quick when that kind of talk begins. Do you really want to be on the receiving end of that? I wouldn't.


  14. i can take any **** you/any moderator can to throw at me punk:cool: :D :p :oops:

    And yes it was a bit harsh to call him a fool i retract that bit but my main point still stands tab isnt all bad
  15. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Cry-eye! I find this whole TABs vs. SN argument tiresome. How is a guy (or girl) expected to learn to play by ear when they just picked up an instrument yesterday? My kids are in second grade and still don't know how to sound out a word when they don't know it. Should I tell them to give up, cuz it's not for them? My point is that it takes time and practice to learn what notes make what sounds(and sometimes no matter how hard you PRACTICE, you just need more TIME before you get it). It takes time and practice to find where those notes are on your fretboard. An acquaintance of mine once told me that he doesn't know the names of the notes, just where they are on his fretboard (he knows what a G sounds like and where to finger his 'board to get that G, but he doesn't know it's a G).

    As far as the "if you don't know how to read anything but TAB, you will be useless in a band situation" comment: Once again, I learned how to play all of the songs my band did in the first three years we were together by using TAB. Guitarist A couldn't read music or TAB, but could play fairly well by ear. Guitarist B couldn't read music or play by ear, but he could read TAB. Then there was me -- I just knew TAB. How did we manage? As a band, we all helped each other (gasp)! It is now a few years later and I still use TAB, but I can now play by ear also. I am also trying to learn standard notation. Out of the four guys in my band (guitarist B is the only guy left from the original band), I have been called the most "musical." The other guys look to me when they can't figure something out and I help them as best I can, without trying to make them feel stupid, or like less of a musician than I am.

    EDIT: The only thing that you have to remember about using TABs is that they are usually a person's "opinion" of what is being played. In my eyes, TAB is fine to use to learn a song, just don't expect that it will always be "right." That is a good place for your ear training to start: "It says to play the third fret on the E string, but that doesn't sound right. It sounds better if I play the second fret." If you've ever said this, you are developing your ear and that is a good thing, regardless of how you are doing it.
  16. When I first started playing in cover bands like 16 years ago, tabs were pretty rare. I had to figure out songs by myself and that was a very important part of my training. However, when magazines started coming out with professionally created transcriptions of some of the songs I wanted to learn, I found them very helpful. I could see how my version of a song differed from a version transcribed by someone with a better ear and more experience. The music was also written out in standard AND tab notation so I could see how the rhythms and notes were represented in staff notation in addition to seeing how they were played on the fretboard.

    I don't believe that tabs are 'bad'. Tabs have their place but they are no substitute for learning songs by ear or learning standard notation. They are good for documenting not only what is played but how it is played. A given phrase can be played several different ways on the fretboard. It is difficult to notate fretboard positions in standard notation. In this case, I use tablature in addition to standard staff notation.

    I do think that the tabs that you find on the web could be detrimental. They are probably not very accurate and don't include staff notation so that complex rhythms are often only sketched in. I am not against books that have transcriptions of songs in tab and standard notations. I think those can be helpful. They at least show you how things are written in standard notation. However, players should try to learn as much as possible by ear.

    - Dave
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    As luck would have it, my server is running slow today, so much so that the images don't load in until about 15 seconds after the thread has appeared. So I was looking at the above quote without the smilies at first, and was juuuust about to reach for my asbestos jumpsuit while strapping on my six-shooter when the images finally loaded - at which point I noticed that you had used your entire SMILEY ALLOTMENT in order to clarify your point.

    It's all good. For the record, I don't care if you use tabs or not. Like my friend and part-time COMIC nemesis CAPEFEAR, I also find the whole argument tiresome, and lately I only try to respond to such threads when someone actually comes out and asks some version of the burning question: "What's wrong with tabs?" At which point I feel inclined to answer the question...But if you or anybody else (with the exception of my own private students) want to use tabs, go for it. Folks like myself and SMACKHAND and HASBRO and ZON BURNER et.al....(A.K.A. the TABEVIL clan) just want you to make an informed decision when you make it. We certainly don't want anybody to "Just give up" if they are having trouble, we just have our reservations and share them when asked. Um, and sometimes when NOT asked, but we're trying to work on that. ;)


  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Your points are well thought out (as usual) and well taken. I guess my biggest beefs with music which includes both tabs and standard notation are:

    a) I feel that this "Dual Format" legitimizes tablature to the point where it seems to become on a par with standard notation. Just recently, I was looking all over the net for some bass transcriptions of Bach 2-part inventions to buy, and the only thing I could find were books which included both notation AND tab. I really want to get a hold of the Bach transcriptions, but I feel that requiring my students to buy a book which includes TAB while busting their chops to become better readers would send a contradictory and somewhat hypocritical message. Not only that, but knowing how a couple of my students are, if given such a book they would look only at the TAB while learning the piece, which would also not be productive.

    b) A big part of attempting to master any instrument is learning to deal with the decision-making process involved in translating notes on the page into the physical technique needed to produce them, and from there into actual music. On the bass, a big part of THIS process is deciding where you want to play a particular phrase that you may see in standard notation. This decision will be involve various factors, including hand size (big hands have more options), tone quality (each string/position has a noticeably different timbre), and style of playing desired (ACROSS the string is often faster, while ALONG the string is often more expressive, etc). This is not an attempt to start a big argument...I'm just expressing another viewpoint.


  19. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    well, that's at least _some_ improvement, but it still doesn't tell the time sig, nor does it imply any kind of beat/accent structure.

    it's still useless if you're not listening to the song
  20. Oysterman

    Oysterman Guest

    Mar 30, 2000
    Easy fix:
    That on the other hand, is not a very easy fix. But you can still come a long way with just pure text and it's easier to distribute over the net. Sad thing that all TAB isn't written this way.
    I wouldn't say it's _useless_ (to be honest, I've had good use for a few of them... shame on me :()... it is however not an excuse for NOT learning standard notation... like, why settle for the second best?