Using Tablature To Your Advantage – Bass Musician Magazine

This is a really good question and some people will say to never look at tabs while others will say it’s ok.

Tablature is music that is written where the fret numbers and strings are listed out (sometimes with the rhythms indicated). Basically a cheat sheet instead of listening or studying written music.

Now there are people who rely on tablature to learn songs if they are just wanting to play out and maybe do not want to take the time to actually listen to the notes and figure them out themselves. Another reason would be that they simply cannot read music.

In this video, we are going to be looking at a bass version of Greensleeves and how we can break down tablature to make it informative and educational.

I have gone to open mics where guitarists will bring in a binder thick full of tabs that they want to play along with lyrics. Now if you are a novice or someone who just wants to go out to play and have fun, i don’t see that as a bad thing. But, if you want to advance in your playing abilities i think that tablature should be used sparingly.

When i first started out, i wanted to learn every song that i loved listening to so i would pull up their tablature. I soon realized that while it is easy to find 100s of tablature for Barracuda finding the right one was a challenge.


The Light At The End of the Tablature Tunnel
Once i would find a tab that i could read, it sounded nothing like what I had imagined. Therefore, practice, music theory, and patience were all things to consider. Now I’m not saying I’ve never used tabs to help. If I want to double check the key of a song if I want to be sure i will look up multiple tabs and see what is written.

Through years of playing, listening to music and using my ear and training to hear the notes and rhythms, this has enabled me to not rely on tabs.

Tread lightly when it comes to tablature. When first starting to play, it can be frustrating not knowing how to play your favorite songs right away but through consistent practice, learning and patience you will be able to learn your favorite songs and more!

But, I think tabs can be a great way for you to learn your fretboard if you really want to break down each tab writing out the note name and saying it as you play along can be one option. Another option can be if you need a second opinion about a song that you are trying to learn.

For example, if you are trying to learn Holy Diver and you are playing and are unsure whether the key starts in C or not you can look up several tabs to reference.

Work on your ear training, listen to music thoroughly and remember it takes time to be a badass bass player so don’t give up!

I believe in you!

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