Tabs vs Ear

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Was wondering what the frequency was between people using tabs or learning songs by ear?

I learnt to play, effectively, by figuring out Stoner riffs (not very demanding) on my hollowbody Epiphone a decade ago, and just now went to look at a tab to check for tuning/because I'm a different room to my guitar and got to thinking how insane it is that people will go through the effort to upload a tab that's just evidently wrong.

Sometimes it's subtle, like you wouldn't really tell unless you're being really discerning, but I have always thought learning songs by ear is much more organic and helps cultivate your own personal playstyle much better than mechanically matching your fingers to the notes on a screen.
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 25006
    Proper notation.

    I’m so bored I might as well be listening to Pink Floyd


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  • I learnt by ear mainly from acdc Poison wasp and skidrow.  Today I check tab if I'm unsure but i mainly learn by ear.
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 10692
    Most songs I can figure out by ear but there are songs where I'm not 100% sure so then I will look at tab, look at videos of the song live and even load the song into lala.ai to isolate the track. 

    Once I'm reasonably confident I've got the parts I commit it to memory, I never write it down. 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • nero1701nero1701 Frets: 1567
    I learn the shape by Tabs and then the nuances by ear.
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 34059
    I'm also in the 'standard notation' camp though for when I need to write anything down.

    For learning songs I do it by ear most of the time.
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 2885
    I said the same to Messrs Motzart, Beethoven and Bach, I never understood why anyone would notate and print their music 

    they told me that they would much rather their music was shared and spread for anyone to play (or something like that my German wasn’t too good in those days )
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 8890
    edited December 2023
    Definitely by ear. I also live performances if I’m unsure which fret positions are used, and also to see whether the original artist plays it the same way as the recording. I then transcribe in notation and TAB as a way of getting it into my memory, and getting it written down in case I forget.

    I don’t like other peoples’ TABs. For the music I play they are frequently wrong.
    Tree recycler, and guitarist with  https://www.undercoversband.com/.
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  • By ear if I can, most online tabs are wrong anyway. Sometimes though for some sections I might check Songsterr to see if I got close, usually their tabs are played in a different position on the fretboard though, or not in the right tuning.
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  • mo6020mo6020 Frets: 475
    Ear, most of the time. 
    "Filthy appalachian goblin."

    https://edmorgan.info
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  • jasonbone75jasonbone75 Frets: 683
    edited December 2023
    95% ear for nearly 40 years. I've had success using original artist play-throughs on youtube with speed reduction to check the position of fast/complex runs. Mark Holcomb is a good example where that works because he plays efficiently and precisely.

    For the stuff I really would benefit from a tab to save some time there usually isn't one! I hunted for years for a tab to Jason Becker playing Showtime with DLR. Had to work it out myself in the end but very glad I did as it was a shit ton of fun!
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  • vizviz Frets: 10788
    edited December 2023
    Rock guitar by ear. Piano by sheet music. 
    Roland said: Scales are primarily a tool for categorising knowledge, not a rule for what can or cannot be played.
    Supportact said: [my style is] probably more an accumulation of limitations and bad habits than a 'style'.
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  • WhistlerWhistler Frets: 325
    By ear, backed up by transcribing songs so that I have the music notation to hand to remind me what is was I heard.
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  • BarneyBarney Frets: 621
    Always by ear ...there wasn't any tabs when I started playing ..I think learning things by ear is good for you 
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  • Good for you people who can learn by ear and proper notation but some of us need tabs to get us started and often dont have the time or experience to learn a song that particular way. The tab is like a young child's first books,in its most basic form and gives those of who have no musical training the chance to enjoy the art form comparatively hassle free. Without it we would simply not be able to indulge and particularly us late starters.
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  • I've never tried to use tabs ... my brain isn't wired to understand them and I don't want to waste fun time on learning to read them.

    I start by trying to play by ear but inevitably get stuck so then consult my friend Mr U Tube to see if there's a lesson by Carl Brown or a good cover version. 

    Generally, I focus on shapes and fretting positions to get me started then go back to playing be ear once I get the flow of the track.

    I like playing against backing tracks like the stuff available in Elevated Jam Tracks ... particularly good for me as chords are stipulated and solos are shown, so for me they are an instant guide to point me in the right direction and have a free-form blast in my own style.

    I don't suppose it matters that much, for me it's all about fun, escapism and keeping my brain working.



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  • Fishboy7Fishboy7 Frets: 2267
    edited December 2023
    Mostly by ear - I used to read notation ok but I'm rusty now.  

    I find it really hard to read TAB actually - little bunches of numbers clustered together with no context of pitch.  My eyesight is too crap to read TAB
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  • spev11spev11 Frets: 425
    Tab mostly, I'd love to do it by Ear and I'm following various online courses to develop my ear but tinitus causes havoc even on a good day. I'll persevere though as I think using both is a good approach. I currently use tab to get me in the ball park and what little ear I do possess to get the feel right.
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  • joeWjoeW Frets: 512
    Mostly by ear - Transcribe! Is good for slowing down really tricky passages or for quick looping. 
    I’ll often try to play in different areas to see what works best for me so tab isn’t too helpful (even when it’s correct)
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 9889
    edited December 2023
    Mostly (probably 90%) by ear. If I’m unsure then I’ll see what folks on YouTube think, or find proper notation. I rarely look at tabs on the ‘net - as others have already pointed out they’re wrong more often than not.

    I play guitar because I enjoy it rather than because I’m any good at it
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  • Ear 100%. Even if I get it sightly wrong it doesn't matter as long as its not completely wrong. 
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