About how long does the average person have to play guitar before they can tab something out by ear? Also, if I'm taking guitar lessons once a week for a half hour when will I get to the point where I don't need to take lessons anymore. Thanks
It depends really. Just stop learning songs from tabs, and pick up riffs by ear. Pick some easy songs that you can pick out first (like blues songs, they're really easy to pick out) and just practise and all that. Only work out like two notes at a time if you're finding it hard, and sing the intervals, and copy them on guitar.

It also helps if you find the key first
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And you never get to the point where you don´t need lessons. There is always something worth learning from someone else.
the longer you've been playing, the easier it gets to just be able to play something from hearing it, rather than lookin for the tabs.

you'll see what i mean down the line.

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On an off topic note: Half hour lessons don't do it. Try and ask for an hour long one. By the time you're unpacked and ready and then packing up and stuff, you've hardly got any time left. An hour will get you much better.

On topic: The first song I worked out by ear was Run to the Hills, and that was about 3-4 months into playing (not the solo). Just listen to music ALL the time, and then play what you think it will be.
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I'm not really sure about any time frame, but you definitely have to be more technically skilled, especially if you want to tab harder songs. Think about it, you can't tab a song if you don't have the ability to even play it, can you? Also..knowledge of theory helps, but isn't necessary. If you can get an idea for what scale the song is using, it takes away the completely random trial and error.
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also try nirvana songs they are usually just power chords and mutes
Originally Posted by TeenBite
Pfft, you all with your big shredding solos. I just play pinch harmonics, then play the same note again without a pinch harmonic. Everyone is like "teh fook?!".
i took half hour lessons for 3 years or more, and wish i still did. you don't really outgrow lessons, as long as you have a decent teacher
depends on the person and factors such as perfect pitch or relative pitch... i`d love to have perfect pitch, but most musicians even the likes of joe satriani have relative pitch (his own admission.

perfect pitch is where your ear can pickout a note and name it off the cuff

relative pitch you need a couple of notes to hear the intervals before you can tell what it is.

when writing i can hear the riff/lick in my head and it just transfers to the guitar i never normally tab stuff, unless it`s specific piece not already tabbed for my students, i write down the key and the position and thats enough for my personal use.
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On an off topic note: Half hour lessons don't do it. Try and ask for an hour long one. By the time you're unpacked and ready and then packing up and stuff, you've hardly got any time left. An hour will get you much better.

Agree 100%. I actually just went to 1.5 hours about 2 months ago. We now use the final 1/2 hour to improv and work on licks which is really helping.

If you can afford the time and money, try one hour and then try bumping up to 1.5 hours. You will be surprised how much you can learn in one session.
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As for theory and stuff like that... Studying never ends. Guitarists are students for life.

How much time it takes to tab out a riff depends on the riff of course, but when you've got a lot of practice it might take a second for stuff like (for example) Metallica, AC/DC, and Iron Maiden.
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This is what I do- any simple catchy riff I hear in my head I try to figure it out on guitar by ear. But more complex songs I use tabs. I've only been learning stuff by ear for a year and I am getting better at it.

SRV and Slash have perfect pitch and they learn (learned) everything by ear. I'm sure guys like Petrucci also have perfect pitch. But most of us don't and it doesn't really matter because most famous guitarists have relative pitch.
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random noodling/getting to know the fretboard helped me out alot.
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Slowing the song down really helps whether you're learning it from tabs or figuring it out by ear. I use a program called Amazing Slow Downer and it's incredible. You can also remove the vocals from about 90 percent of songs using Audacity. When I'm learning a song I usually always remove the vocals then use the EQ in Slow Downer to bring the guitar more to the front.

On a side note, if I would have had the ability to slow down the song and remove the vocals like I can today, I would have learned songs in about a quarter of the time.
Bud, Just keep on keeping on with the tabs. The only way I learned from ear was when my computer got broke and I couldn't come to this site anymore....

That's just the way it works.

Also, if you learn some scales, and practice them all over the fret board, learning solos gets easier.
I've seen my dad work out a song just by listening to it and trying to play along, I've got no clue how he does it. I played piano when I was younger, so I just learn by reading/playing along with Guitar Pro or printing tabs out and using them as sheet music.