Tab vs by ear

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Thread: Tab vs by ear

  1. #1

    Join Date: Oct 2008
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    I've never really been a huge tab user, but I've recently discovered that, for anything other than the odd bit here and there, I really don't get along with it very well.

    I find it really kinda doubles the work up. Learning just a series of disembodied sequences of fret numbers gets tackled as a memory test, then I have to see how it relates/becomes the lick/phrase/sequence.

    Standard notation is a big help, as it also gives the rhythmical value, but I'm really not good at site reading, never was, so it's not hugely different. I still need to do a lot more detective work than I'd like.

    I've found that I just work best by ear. I loop a section at a time, and slow it down where necessary (a lot). I can make much quicker progress this way.

    Anyone else find this?

  2. #2

    Join Date: Aug 2012
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    I learn songs exclusively by tab. Unless there's no tab, of course.
    ^ probably sarcasm.

  3. #3

    Join Date: Feb 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cassidy View Post
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    I've found that I just work best by ear. I loop a section at a time, and slow it down where necessary (a lot). I can make much quicker progress this way.

    Anyone else find this?
    ^This. I learned to play by ear from the start, no lessons, just some friends showing me some chords on occasion. Hell, I can't read music to save my life, lol! If I hit a particularly troublesome section I'll dig up a tab, but progress seems to happen better by ear.

  4. #4

    Join Date: Dec 2014
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    I usually use tabs...but often I have to resort to re-listen the song by ear because I find something don't coincide with what's written on there
    there's a lot of mistakes on tabs,some subtle,other more least on the tabs I've found on (it's the biggest tabs database I've found so far) EDIT ...and why on earth it automatically links to it's page?!

    also,I think using too much tabs to lear songs can hinder your ability to learn by least in my case,I should start using my ears more
    Last edited by Pheralg; 12-30-2014 at 12:53 AM.

  5. #5

    Join Date: Nov 2013
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    I find I use a mixture of both. I'll refer to the tab first in many cases, then go by ear from there.

  6. #6

    Join Date: Sep 2008
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    I'm somewhere in between - I can read tab fluently enough and while it's easier these days to smoothly slow music down, before that was the case i essentially couldn't transcribe complex runs over a certain tempo. However, in my youth (late 90s) I spent a LOT of time transcribing material, so I could work things out by ear pretty well.

    I think there are advantages and disadvantages to each - for thigs where the pattern on the fretboard impacts how you play something, tab is super helpful. On the other hand, there are some things that don't convey well in tab - I have a lot more trouble getting the rhythm down on things I learned from tab than by ear even with standard notation, and especially in blues based music bending is way too expressive to be fully captured by an indication of how many (potentially fractional) steps you need to bend the note... Whether you bend into the note or release out of it, how quickly you come to pitch, whether you get 80% of the way there quickly and sort of eeeeeaaaaaase into that last 20% or ramp up at the very end or whatever... You'll never get that from a tab.

    Also, on the internet especially, tabs are often not entirely right.
    "They can kill you, but the legalities of eating you are a bit dicier." - David Foster Wallace

  7. #7

    Join Date: Oct 2008
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    Tabs are very helpful, but I've never been a big "learn cover songs" type of person.

    It's actually, most songs I learn are by ear, but by complete accident. I'll just be jamming a chord progression, or a series of notes, only to find out very quickly that it is a popular tune.

  8. #8

    Join Date: Sep 2008
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    I prefer to learn by ear, but defer to tab if its not coming together. Also i think i have slowed down a song on one occasion to get it (river dragon solo). Maybe if I did that (and y'know, used a computer more) I'd get way better
    Sparrows (Space Punk, LOUD):

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