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Why Is Tablature Bad?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by 5544, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    In another thread, people are telling the OP to stop working with tablature learn how to read music.

    When I read tablature:


    I see the following:

    G, A, G on E string
    C, D on A string

    I also look at the note lengths in the sheet music above the tablature.

    Now can someone explain to me why that is worse than standard sheet music?
  2. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Tabs mostly don't have sheet music above it.. and they probably want you to be able to sight read from the sheet music?
    AltGrendel and JEBassman like this.
  3. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    Every book I bought with tab has the sheet music above it.

    I must be buying the wrong books then.
  4. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    No, you are buying sheet music with tabs..not the same thing as just tabs
    If you google for tabs for specific songs.. they mostly have no sheet music attached.. it's just tabbed versions of those songs.
    THAT's what I believe they are saying not to use..
  5. Michael B

    Michael B

    Dec 16, 2015
    Lowell, MA
    If you want to quickly learn songs so be it. Nothing wrong with that.

    If you want to learn music it can put off reading properly in a bad way.

    It's personal choice.
  6. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    If I google tabs for specific songs, then I will download the versions that work with Guitar Pro 6 - which has both tab & standard notation.

    Besides, how hard is it to say "E8 is C" when looking at this:

  7. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    No complaints here, but I don't use GP6.
    Tabs are what I use to learn songs. I can read music, but don't sight read for bass - and to be honest, too old and lazy to bother to do so now - so I start with the tab I find then [usually] end up correcting it for personal use by working thru the entire song. The corrected version (with words) goes into my OnSong app for future reference.
    No "sheet music" involved at all.
  8. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I find tabs useful for learning new tunes to play with the band. Sometimes it is difficult to hear what is being played. I usually, but not always, find the bass tabs I need on Ultimate Guitar. They are not always correct and sometimes the suggested fingering is insane, but it does help get the part right and more quickly than trying to get it by ear.
    It has been so long since I've read sheet music, It takes too much time to stumble through it.
  9. How hard is this?

    Try telling a sax player to play E8 sometime.
  10. Printed music can show pitch, volume, and duration. Tab only shows the fingering.
    If you are consulting the printed notation for the note values, then you are covered.

    But, if you can read music, why are you learning from tabs?
  11. I view online tabs like an online version of hooked on phonics - you are at the whim of an unknown ability player who can make you look like a fool.
  12. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    Am I playing that on B13, E8 or A3 (standard tuning)?
    jp58, hover, AshInAmsterdam and 4 others like this.
  13. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    TAB is a teacher's tool, to show a student how to play something so they can go home and practice it. It's easier to put on the internet than standard notation (no special software needed), so it's flourished in the internet era. In that way, it's just one person communicating to another, "this is how I play that song." It's often wrong but sometimes useful. Nothing wrong with that if you bear in mind that's all it is. What's not good is becoming a "tab monkey," a person who just learns TABs off the internet and thinks they "know the song" when in fact they have no idea what key it's in, what the chord progression is or even what notes they're playing. It can easily become a crutch that hinders advancing as a musician.
  14. Doesn't matter, it is a specific C & up to the player to determine the best position to play it. As you pointed out there are options available to the reader that a tab user wouldn't have.

    And it applies to every tuning and all 4,5,6 or whatever stringed instruments. It is universal of itself.
  15. Icemanaroonie


    Sep 6, 2015
    As long as you understand the limitations of tablature, then there is nothing wrong with using it. My bandmates send each other tabs and videos of them playing riffs, and it works perfectly.
  16. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Standard notation is too hard to type in and takes up too much screen space on a tablet. I like to get the whole song on a single screen. That's why I developed my own notation system, somewhat similar to the modern "ABC Notation". It's not perfect but does try to capture duration and the actual note name. I sometimes put in notes about fingering position(s):
    Index of /abc
    I can actually sight read it, at least on the slower songs LOL. I'm in five bands so have 100+ songs I have to be able to pull out of my butt, probably closer to 200 over the last year including bands I've moved on from.

    ...and for those curious here's the home page for "ABC Notation":
    abc | home
    It's again too verbose for my needs.
  17. whatizitman


    Sep 9, 2014
    It's not bad. Just limiting.

    And always good to keep in mind that tabs (or really any type of charting that occurs 'after the fact') are almost always someone's interpretation of a recorded song. It's easy to misinterpret. Many tabs are utter crap.
  18. whatizitman


    Sep 9, 2014
    You see scale notes because you know the scale notes, in which case using tabs can be a helpful addition to learning a passage of music. For people who don't know notes or scales on the fretboard (hell, even just on the E and A strings), tabs can help learn a song, provided they have the recording as a reference. It's a very limiting way for new players to learn songs.
    Rip Van Dan likes this.
  19. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Sure. Where does your tab show you time signature, key signature, tempo, dynamics? Hand that tab to your keyboard player and see what he can do with it. Tab isn't "bad" per se, but incomplete and non-transferable.
  20. whatizitman


    Sep 9, 2014
    My daughter will only learn tabs at school and lessons for guitar. She's not really very motivated. Given the choice between her actually playing an instrument or not at all is an easy choice to make for me. Sometimes I gotta choose my battles.

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