Chorstman
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2013
704 IQ
#1
Hey Everyone,

I have been playing the guitar now for around a year and nine months. I am starting to get into transcribing things because I have heard it is one of the best ways to make progress with your playing. I'm just curious when you guys started transcribing music? After a year of playing? Two? Etc.

Also I have thought about starting to learn songs exclusively by transcribing. No tabs or online videos. I would however not be able to learn the difficulty of songs that I am learning now because my transcribing ability is pretty low. I'm guessing in the long run it would pay off as my transcribing ability began to increase though. What do you guys think?
Zaphod_Beeblebr
Shallow and pedantic.
Join date: Apr 2006
1,670 IQ
#2
Not early enough. It should be something you do as soon as possible. I wouldn't worry too much about only learning music that way but you should always be doing it.
R.I.P. My Signature. Lost to us in the great Signature Massacre of 2014.

Album.
Legion.
Sickz
Jazz Musician
Join date: Mar 2010
1,594 IQ
#3
Same as Zaphod here, i started way late. I have been playing for 4 years soon, and it wasn't until my third year that i decided that i was going to start working hardcore at transcribing and reading notation. So then i basically left tabs, i say basically because i still use tabs to write down my own ideas of how to play things if i need to, but i don't get tabs of the internet for songs anymore.

But yes, transcribing is great and it's great that you have started getting into it. It will benefit you in the long run cause it will develop your ear so you can learn any songs you like (there doesn't need to be tabs or notation for it), you will get more familiar with the way notes sound which will contribute to your improvising, and you will learn stuff better then if you learned it by tabs (In my opinion atleast, i've always felt that learning by ear makes the parts stick with you better)

Just remember to start with stuff that ain't too hard, just like playing an instrument transcribing is something you need to work on. I would strongly recommend you to get some sort of software that can slow down songs without altering the pitch, cause as you get into more advanced stuff there might be things that are too fast for you to pick out at normal tempos.

For example i am working on some lines from a Guthrie Govan song, and there is no way i would be able to pick them out by ear if i had not slowed them down. So i recommend getting some sort of software if you are going to transcribe a lot. "Amazing slow downer" is a favorite of mine, but look around for something that suits you.

Hope that helped, cheers!
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
Junior#1
Is SouTaicho Yamamoto-san
Join date: Oct 2007
238 IQ
#4
As the others have said, way too late. I think I was just too lazy to spend the time to get good at it. I didn't start until I had been playing for 7 years.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
jpaolilli
Registered User
Join date: Jul 2010
724 IQ
#5
I was lucky enough to have such bad internet when I started that it was a waste of time to try to find tabs, so I only got tabs from Guitarworld, and I just transcribed everything else. Ear training is so important, and transcribing will help you get there.

The other huge thing about transcribing is that it really forces you to learn the neck, you'll find there's several ways to play a specific note/lick/chord and you need to find the one that sounds the best and is easy.

Start small and simple, say a blues piece, or working on a collection of classic riffs (iron man, smoke on the water, working man etc etc)
SimonJames
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2013
167 IQ
#6
you can start transcribing right now, the sooner the better. When I teach youngsters i encourage them to write out simple two or four bar phrases and it really helps them visualise what they are playing. This makes them keep it simple and really improves their rhythm and ear. If you can start doing it now, after 9 months of playing it will develop as you develop and so it won't seem difficult. Usually what puts people off is when they start doing it after years of playing and they go in at the deep end and try transcribing really advanced material.
Remember, start now, keep it simple by doing even only 1 bar at a time and gradually work your way up to doing whole songs
Chorstman
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2013
704 IQ
#7
Thank you guys for your advice and replies. Do you guys think I should just stick to learning songs by ear? I mainly use video lessons right now and although I think my playing is pretty good considering how long i've been playing, I really think just learning by ear could make me a lot better. What do you guys think?
Chorstman
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2013
704 IQ
#8
The main reason i'm wondering this is because for instance if I want to learn a Hendrix or SRV song that is a little above my playing level I can look up the video and learn it now and make my playing better. But for right now with transcription I have to stick to easy songs until my transcription ability increases so i'd be playing easy songs for awhile which wouldn't help my playing very much besides the transcription skill. But I guess I can just do both.
Junior#1
Is SouTaicho Yamamoto-san
Join date: Oct 2007
238 IQ
#9
Any playing is helpful. Even if you just play for like 15 minutes, that's still better than not playing at all.

Working on both transcribing and playing good, especially since you will need to be at least a decent player to accurately transcribe songs by SRV and Hendrix.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
RickyThomson
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2012
1,108 IQ
#10
Quote by Chorstman
Thank you guys for your advice and replies. Do you guys think I should just stick to learning songs by ear? I mainly use video lessons right now and although I think my playing is pretty good considering how long i've been playing, I really think just learning by ear could make me a lot better. What do you guys think?


Another thing that really helps..

Watch lots of live footage or go to see live bands. Watch how they are playing and tab out some stuff from that. You can actually pick up a few techniques from simply watching other guitarists play. Also if you haven't got a super ear for saying THAT note is an F# (for example)... you are able to see what position of the neck they are using, which gives you a headstart at finding your way around the song.
mdc
UG's Mr Chord Man
Join date: Feb 2008
722 IQ
#11
Quote by Chorstman
I'm just curious when you guys started transcribing music? After a year of playing? Two? Etc.

Lol. Straight away, before I even had any technical ability on guitar.

1) I had no internetz, so I drew 6 lines (without a ruler) on some paper (obviously), since I had no money to buy shit from music shops.

2) Play 2 seconds worth of chosen song

3) Pause - rewind

4) Do number 3 approx 47 times (warning - the CD player might break, but hey, you guyz live in the 21st century where there's like fuckinnnnn, iTunes 'n' shit, yeah?)

5) Find notes on guitar

6) Pick up pencil

7) Write down the fret number on whichever line

8) Repeat for the rest of your playing life across many different genres of music

9) It gets easier, and you'll get quicker, trust me.

10) Come out the other side with great ears which will make you rather employable as a guitarist.
Freepower
v It's Back! :D
Join date: Feb 2004
3,277 IQ
#14
Far too late... didn't work out a whole song by ear till I'd been playing 5 years.

My detailed views on transcribing are here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6ZUn_xLifM&list=PLIGedxV9iLk6Ve1Cr42If4cYysvhq6ELL&index=4

It's much more important to be able to hear well than to be able to play a few more Hendrix licks you can learn from a tab. Hearing well will IMPROVE EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR PLAYING.

All caps justified for once.
blunderwonder
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2012
274 IQ
#15
I am almost at the 2 year mark as well, and i tried for a brief stint, but its difficult depending on the type of stuff you want to transcribe. The other big influence is your playing level. Im sure it pays to get into it early, but the tough thing is if the only songs you care to transcribe are songs that are about or more difficult than your playing level, it becomes difficult to transcribe something that you cant check. For instance ill look at a tab, and it will take me days, even weeks before i can play it properly, if i had tried to tab it out, i would have just been frustrated the whole while, and never learned the song at all. Im not saying not to try and do it, but its probably a good idea to not try and transcribe songs that sound like they would be difficult for you to play anyway. and this is an issue because when im fiddling with the guitar, i dont tend to play things that are super easy anyway.

Also, and im not trying to be the douchebag here but any playing is good playing. Also, ive heard from many people that developing a good ear is more than playing with FET and transcribing, if youve been playing for 7 years and know 2000 songs and have played them many times, theres a better chance you'll recognize a chord voicing or common progression. I dont have very good ears, but ive played so many cowboy chord type songs, often times i can pick a 320033 without even checking Oo. I suppose my point in saying this is that it probably needs to be balanced, i intended to stop using tabs altogether and learn to play by ear, and it basically put a stop to my guitar playing, i spent hours a day for 3-4 days in a row on a james taylor song and finally gave up. Even with audacity and transcribe software it can be difficult if your playing isnt good enough to check your work

good luck.
ArtistLion
Registered User
Join date: Oct 2012
818 IQ
#16
After 4 years, quite late.
I got so fed up with my low skill marge on the guitar, that I wanted to cut the bleh practice (scales, chord change, bending, hammer-on, loose riffs, finger stretching, etc) and replace it with the thing that helped my favourite guitarists boost to stardom. Which is, mainly, transcribing and actually learning songs (instead of learning a part, whining and giving up).
Currently I have transcribed some exercises of justinguitar's, now I'm trying my hands on an actual song.
The interesting thing about transcribing is that it immensily boosts your skills. You hear the sound in your head and your hands will follow. Your technique becomes more closely linked to the sound in your head, so you'll get a boost in technique (bend, hammer-on, pull-off, vibrato), if the sound in your head gets clearer/more logical.

Conclusion: Definately start as soon as you can with transcribing.
J2G
UG Member
Join date: Aug 2012
697 IQ
#17
Wow... I started transcribing this very morning and it was great, fun as hell. Get "Transcibe!" software. It's free and easy to use.
Helped me get like the first 1 minute of Final Wars. Which is a big surprise because I didn't think I'd get even that for my first day.
If you can tune by ear, you should give transcribing a shot.
sweetdude3000
Registered User
Join date: Mar 2012
1,172 IQ
#18
I started out playing tabs because I didn't know any better. I had made a really bad assumption that was how you are supposed to play what's written and learning by ear is too difficult. Before the guitar, I had played piano and nearly everything was classical and was written in standard notation. You make the interpretation of how it's supposed to be played.

Then I started to realize that none of the guitarists that were my idols even knew how to read written music. Guitar is played by ear. I found it not as difficult as I had once thought when I applied some basic theory and learned how intervals worked. I got really frustrated at the tabs I saw online because they weren't perfect and I could easily tell. I figured it's much better for me to figure it out for myself because mainly there is zero rhythmic notation in tabs and if I can figure out the rhythms then I can figure out the notes. What made it difficult was knowing that there were more than one place to play a note, but lead guitar playing is usually linear and melodic so if you think about how it fits into the scale, then working the fingerings seemed more natural. Also knowing the chords that songs are played over helped because when a guitarists plays a note outside of the scale usually, it is corresponding to a note in the chord that he is playing over.

I've also seen a massive gain in my ability to hear licks as one entity, where to find them on the instrument, and recognizing the common patterns in songs. I think if you were to visualize music in space a lot of symmetrical patterns that fit together cohesively would emerge. I can see the patterns easily in standard notation, but I think a good musician can intuit them - know how to fit by "feel" - and see them in the mind's eye on an aural plane.

Deep sh*t I know.
J2G
UG Member
Join date: Aug 2012
697 IQ
#19
I still don't get how I'm supposed to know where to put my fingers when I hear a chord though. If I'm playing like Tool, Deftones, or APC I'm lost. But this Buckethead song is like straight lead so it's much easier.
BoL7z
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2009
4,590 IQ
#20
Now after reading this thread, been playing just over 3 years so time to get my act together I think.
Dr Sixstring
UG's Snips
Join date: Nov 2011
1,277 IQ
#21
If I were to start right now transcribing what would you reccomended trying? Twinkle twinkle little star, something like that? Any song recommendations would be awesome.
PRS SE Custom 24 w/ Seymour Duncan JB and Jazz Pickups
Squire Classic Vibe Stratocaster

Digitech Bad Monkey

Pignose 7100 Legendary Amplifyer
Chorstman
Registered User
Join date: Feb 2013
704 IQ
#22
You could start with something like twinkle twinkle, but I would find that really boring and either give up or just not be satisfied if I actually figured it out. It depends on what style you're in to and who your favorite guitarists are. For example John Mayer is one of my favorite guitarists and the first song i'm trying to transcribe fully is Vultures. It's definitely a little harder than what I should be starting on, but I love the song and its actually rewarding when I figure some part of it out. I would just start with an easier song by an artist that you like. That way you have motivation to actually learn the song cause transcribing isn't easy.
deltadaz
Registered User
Join date: Oct 2011
100 IQ
#23
Now starting after 23 years justin guitar has a nice free little course to get started with
But this goes up to 11
J2G
UG Member
Join date: Aug 2012
697 IQ
#24
Quote by Dr Sixstring
If I were to start right now transcribing what would you reccomended trying? Twinkle twinkle little star, something like that? Any song recommendations would be awesome.


The funny thing is I did that like my 5th month of playing and got so excited. Yes, start simple... you'll see progress like your Poke'Mon get XP... take your time on it, it's not easy but it's not nearly impossible.
J_W
Registered User
Join date: Jan 2012
65 IQ
#25
I didn't start using tabs to learn songs until I'd been playing for over 10 years. I learned every song I knew completely by ear for those first 10 years.
SebastianGrosu
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2013
21 IQ
#26
Quote by Chorstman
Hey Everyone,

I have been playing the guitar now for around a year and nine months. I am starting to get into transcribing things because I have heard it is one of the best ways to make progress with your playing. I'm just curious when you guys started transcribing music? After a year of playing? Two? Etc.

Also I have thought about starting to learn songs exclusively by transcribing. No tabs or online videos. I would however not be able to learn the difficulty of songs that I am learning now because my transcribing ability is pretty low. I'm guessing in the long run it would pay off as my transcribing ability began to increase though. What do you guys think?


I have started transcribing immediately because I had no access to instructional materials back when I've started. You should also read music because it will help you in your transcribing. Later you could also try to transcribe without using an instrument. This will help a lot but it's kind a difficult.
[forbidden link]
Craig Hardie
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2013
24 IQ
#27
I also started transcribing as soon as I began learning to play. Back when I started, there weren't a lot of great tabs around, and even official publications were often full of errors so I had to learn to do it myself. I can't stress enough the importance of doing this as it relates to developing your aural skills as well as improving your understanding of guitar technique generally. I also found it helpful in the early days to read a good book on music theory and learn to write simple musical notation (not tablature).
bondmorkret
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2012
168 IQ
#28
I always advice even my complete beginner students to start transcribing, BUT to start with achievable aims (like working out the happy birthday melody or something), its such a productive way to spend your practice time!