Tabs vs Ear

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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 2229
    edited December 2023
    Mainly by ear using Transcribe!.

    I like to use markers in Transcribe! to denote Verse, Chorus, Rise, Break etc, to establish song structures.

    Sometimes I use Transcribe! to slow it down. That helps with fast guitar solos, or maybe for a chord voicing or a subtle nuance that isn't immediately apparent.

    To speed up the process, I sometimes use YouTube to search out a video of the original performer playing the song. Or I find online tutorials and look at multiple sources to get the best take on it.

    It's not a competition.
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  • I'm not averse to cribbing from existing tab and/or chord files but, as the OP mentions, they're often inaccurate and sometimes just outright wrong.

    I'm not too bad at picking guitar parts up by ear, but this can vary depending on the style of the player. For example, I find Johnny Marr difficult as he has quite an unique style and often uses a capo.
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  • slackerslacker Frets: 2290
    I'll use tab if I can't work it out by ear or if there's not a youtube lesson. The ones by Jason someone with a Manchester accent are really good. There's a guy with a burgundy les paul that goes into minute detail such as voicing on all right now.

    The tabs are often wrong and sifting through 9 versions claiming to be correct does my head in. But to confirm or correct they can be helpful. I couldn't work out the bass line to pump it up for an audition. Two notes were missing. Tab sorted it. Went to audition near the end I asked were we not doing pump it up? No the previous bassplayer couldn't play it.
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  • slacker said:
    I'll use tab if I can't work it out by ear or if there's not a youtube lesson. The ones by Jason someone with a Manchester accent are really good. There's a guy with a burgundy les paul that goes into minute detail such as voicing on all right now.

    The tabs are often wrong and sifting through 9 versions claiming to be correct does my head in. But to confirm or correct they can be helpful. I couldn't work out the bass line to pump it up for an audition. Two notes were missing. Tab sorted it. Went to audition near the end I asked were we not doing pump it up? No the previous bassplayer couldn't play it.
    The guy with the burgundy Les Paul has a Youtube channel called Shutup & Play. He's excellent. That's where I start. If he's done a tutorial on a song, I generally don't need to look any further. I recently mentioned him on the Western Jam thread, regarding learning La Grange.

    I love the Pump It Up bassline. Quite a tricky one. I got most of it by ear, but needed to check the run ups, when it goes to E, by watching a couple of YouTube tutorials.

    It's not a competition.
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  • YouTube tutorials with tabs. Too old and not enough patience/time to learn by ear.
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  • Depends on what it is and the complexity, mostly by ear especially if it’s a niche solo.  At one point, I got really good at picking stuff off by ear.  I can still do it but not as fast as I used to.  

    It’s quite fun, and trying the different fingerings is such a great way to learn.  I need to do it more.  I used to love the sense of accomplishment after learning a few bars of something I loved. 
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  • The online tab that's available for free seems to be uploaded by beginners as most of it is wrong, so I never use it.  I subscribe to Sheetmusicdirect and although the transcription is better, it's not always correct.  

    I can and do work out songs by ear, but I had to learn over 100 songs on bass this year and being able to save time by using the sheet music instead makes sense.  When the sheet music is not available, I tend to use an AI audio splitter to separate the bass to make it easier to hear and use Magix Sound Forge to loop and slow down sections if necessary.  I notate it myself in Sibelius (in standard notation, not tab) and read it from my tablet for gigs as there is no way I could remember all those songs without a disproportionate amount of effort!
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  • slackerslacker Frets: 2290
    slacker said:
    There's a guy with a burgundy les paul that goes into minute detail such as voicing on all right now.


    The guy with the burgundy Les Paul has a Youtube channel called Shutup & Play. 

    Thanks that makes it easier to find. It's the attention to detail that makes it easier to nail a part.
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 10692
    What I've noticed about a lot of Youtube channels is they teach parts in tab because that's actually a better business model for them to do so. People carry on blindly learning from the videos is as much as they are learning songs but the majority of them don't even know what key they are playing in. 

    A far better way of tab teaching, I think is this method I use for beginners 



    Mr Brightside  - Played in key of Dmaj with guitar tuned down 1 semitone 

    ...................................................................E(0)....................................................

    ..................................................................................E (17) .................................

    ..................................................................................................D (19) .................

    .....................................D (19)................................................................................

    ......................F# (16) ......................................................................................,,,,,,,

    ..........D (17) ..............................D(17).....................................................................


    This at least gets them see'ing the notes on the relevant frets right from the get go and they also subconsciously take in information like if it says D maj on the title as a key then it will normally have an F# in the tab not a natural F  

    I am ol skool in as much as I learnt guitar in the days there was no tab, the first piece I learnt was Apache in Bb because it was from a piano transcription done by someone with a record player / tape recorder that was sharp in pitch (common problem back in the day ) But I use modern tech all the time such as lala.ai, fadr.com and other resources like Mogg files split from Guitar Hero / Rock Band and isolated guitar tracks on Youtube. 

    Then there's the poor mans vocal killer ... take a 3.5mm stereo plug and wire it directly to a male XRL  ... ground of 3.3mm jack to pin 1 .... doesn't matter which way you connect the other 2 wires for this application. 

    Now connect that into any balanced input .. like the mic input of a mixing desk or an audio interface and play the song. Anything panned in the middle of the song like the vocal / snare / kick / bass will be basically cancelled and the stuff on the sides of the mix, like the guitars and keys will be much more intelligible 

    If you have ever been at a shit disco and wondered why the vocals are all weird and thin  that's generally what's happened :)


    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 4077
    Mainly by ear using Transcribe!.

    I like to use markers in Transcribe! to denote Verse, Chorus, Rise, Break etc, to establish song structures.

    Sometimes I use Transcribe! to slow it down. That helps with fast guitar solos, or maybe for a chord voicing or a subtle nuance that isn't immediately apparent.

    To speed up the process, I sometimes use YouTube to search out a video of the original performer playing the song. Or I find an online tutorials and look at multiple sources to get the best take on it.


    I am you.
    Exactly this.
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 4077
    Danny1969 said:

    Mr Brightside  - Played in key of Dmaj with guitar tuned down 1 semitone 

    ...................................................................E(0)....................................................

    ..................................................................................E (17) .................................

    ..................................................................................................D (19) .................

    .....................................D (19)................................................................................

    ......................F# (16) ......................................................................................,,,,,,,

    ..........D (17) ..............................D(17).....................................................................



    See, this is the problem with internet TAB -- full of mistakes!  ;)
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 10692
    Grunfeld said:
    Danny1969 said:

    Mr Brightside  - Played in key of Dmaj with guitar tuned down 1 semitone 

    ...................................................................E(0)....................................................

    ..................................................................................E (17) .................................

    ..................................................................................................D (19) .................

    .....................................D (19)................................................................................

    ......................F# (16) ......................................................................................,,,,,,,

    ..........D (17) ..............................D(17).....................................................................



    See, this is the problem with internet TAB -- full of mistakes!  ;)
    Ha ha , yeah I have  drawn it wrong ... start the riff on the A string :)  shows how much tab I draw out 

    You get the gist though ... give them the notes as well as the numbers 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 4077
    Danny1969 said:

    You get the gist though ... give them the notes as well as the numbers 
    lol, yep! Great idea for beginners!
    And your point about having a second thought to suss if something is a different tuning is a good one too.  We're adding Walk The Moon Shut Up And Dance to the set list and while there's not so much of an issue with this one, it's has some nice open chords only possible with a dropped tuning.
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  • Well if @Danny1969 ; is teaching Mr Brightside to beginners, I think I'd better start rating myself as a beginner again :)

    It's not a competition.
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 10692
    Well if @Danny1969 ; is teaching Mr Brightside to beginners, I think I'd better start rating myself as a beginner again :)

    Yeah Brightside wasn't a great example ... that first bit is easy but the bridge parts will tax many an experienced player due to the sheer stretches involved, 

    @Grunfeld ;

    Shut up and Dance is about the only song in recent-ish times that's got the same kind of dance floor response as Brightside / Sex on fire etc. 
    Makes me wonder what we are all gonna be playing in another 5 years time  ... same songs I suspect. 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • I use mainly tab & YouTube  I enjoy doing stuff by ear like vocal lines  or some keyboard parts 
      Then things for fun  I did that Miley Cyrus song last year “I can love me better”  but some of the music I like I would never have been able to figure some of the parts they played . I find rhythm parts tricky like Round & Round by Ratt  with those little two note diads/double stops . I’m getting the iPad full version of transcribe at Xmas. At the moment I can only do the first 45 seconds or something and was using it to study a Sophie Lloyd shred version video  to see how she fits the fast little runs inbetween a mixture of melody and rhythm . I kinda dig that sort of thing, & coming up with different arrangements of say 80s ballads etc 
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  • droflufdrofluf Frets: 3983
    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.
    I’m with @guitarjack66 on this, I was effectively banned from practical music at school so really started playing in my 50’s.  I don’t have the ear and on the few times I’ve attempted to transcribe something I’ve been humbled by son who’ll hear what I’m trying to do and say something like it’s C# not D after hearing the original once. 
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  • drofluf said:
    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.
    I’m with @guitarjack66 on this, I was effectively banned from practical music at school so really started playing in my 50’s.  I don’t have the ear and on the few times I’ve attempted to transcribe something I’ve been humbled by son who’ll hear what I’m trying to do and say something like it’s C# not D after hearing the original once. 
    Were you banned by your parents?

    To add to the discussion:
    I most play either black metal or Meshuggah songs.

    For Meshuggah, I will absolutely look at the tab on Songsterr, because I'm not patient enough to figure it out for the most part, and they have a strong enough following, with a lot of their music being part of an academic syllabus, that the tabs tend to be 100% correct more often than not.

    For a lot of the 90's black metal I play, you'd be lucky to find a clear live performance let alone a tab, so I tend to figure those out by ear. I prefer that a lot more though because it brings me closer to the music.
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  • droflufdrofluf Frets: 3983
    dhankotb said:
    Were you banned by your parents?

    No, by the school. 

    We were supposed to learn a musical instrument for the first two years. I took up flute and lasted 6 weeks. 

    Choir was also compulsory; the test was going into a practice room where the head of music played a note and we were supposed to sing it back. I’d never had to do anything like that so failed miserably. So a handful of us sat put choir “supervised” by the only human member of the music staff. Meant we also got to go early for lunch on a Friday. 
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  • drofluf said:
    dhankotb said:
    Were you banned by your parents?

    No, by the school. 

    We were supposed to learn a musical instrument for the first two years. I took up flute and lasted 6 weeks. 

    Choir was also compulsory; the test was going into a practice room where the head of music played a note and we were supposed to sing it back. I’d never had to do anything like that so failed miserably. So a handful of us sat put choir “supervised” by the only human member of the music staff. Meant we also got to go early for lunch on a Friday. 
    Ahh, okay. It's a shame I was never interested in playing an instrument at a very early age because piano was compulsory in music class but I never really applied myself to or got into it.

    We used to have compulsory choir too and I would sing badly on purpose so I wouldn't get picked, and then get picked for it anyway.
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