When Did You Get Off Tabs?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Icarus26, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. I've been playing bass for a little more than a year. Up to this point, all the songs i know, i've learned from tabs. IMO, that was a fatal mistake. I know a lot of the songs i learned i probably wouldn't have been able to get just by listening, it can get hard to detect every note that comes from the bass when everything is going on.

    right now i'm in the stage where i'm trying to tab out songs by ear, it's tough, and i still refer to tabs when it gets too busy, but my question is how long after you started playing could you play by ear?
  2. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    Tabs can be a good jumping off point to get you immersed in learning songs, but the sooner you get off tabs and onto standard notation (or better yet, learning by ear) the faster you'll mature as a musician. It can be hard, but the more you try and the more you listen, the better you'll become.
    Tbsx likes this.
  3. Never learned to play things any other way other than by ear or by sight reading. I also haven't played any covers in over 10 years except for fun. I do think tabs are a good way to start though because you get immediate results and when you're learning any instrument it is important to get past the early frustration. Why don't you try picking out simple songs first and before you know it you will get it. Eventually logic dictates the next note in the progression.
  4. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Once you learn to play by ear, you will find that most tabs are wrong. At least that has been my experience.

    Learning to play by ear is probably the hardest part of bass playing. There are some tricks. Don't try to get every note the first time through, just get the chord sequence right. Once you know the chord sequence you can at least play a simple bass line to the song.

    Get a tool, like audacity, that lets you: slow down the song, boost the bass, loop over a part.

    Then just spend a lot of time learning songs by ear. Jam sessions are a fun way to learn to pick out chords.
  5. definitely. i find myself revising a lot of the songs i previously learned in order to suit what i'm actually hearing.
  6. tobie


    Nov 26, 2008
    I guess this is debatable. Firstly - from experience with my instruments other than bass (which I'm still new at), I would have been lost trying to learn playing them without tabs. Secondly, I hardly ever play in a band using music sheets. We always get the lyrics with (only) the chord changes written right above the words where they're applicable. I guess there might be times where it's handy to play straight off the bass cleff, but again - the (same) chord changes are also noted on all sheet music (in common alphabetical format). There is also the possibility of watching a co-keyboard/co-guitar player's left hand pinky and base your notes on that.

    I'm not saying 'don't worry about learning to read music from sheets' - I'm learning that too. I'm saying spend most time and effort on the methods you'll use mostly, secondly on those that 'might be handy some day'.
  7. RedsFan75


    Apr 26, 2007
    I learned bass when I was 16. As far as I knew, there was no such thing as Tabs back then. :)

    In other words. I learned by ear from the start. I didn't learn to read music until MUCH later in life. Still not the best but I've been going through Ed Friedlands Hal Leonard book to work on my sight reading.

    Tabs are frequently not very good, but they can be a good jumping off point to help you get a line started, but letting your ear and your knowledge of the bass and theory take you through the progressions and allow you to make the line your own.
  8. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    Look up the chords to the song instead of the tab...I find they are more accurate and they are a good way start using your ear without being thrown into the pool sink or swim.
    Tbsx likes this.
  9. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    That's a good thing. If you don't make mistakes there are no learning opportunities.