Recently I've had a desire to play songs from bands that don't have tabs here on UG. My transcribing abilities are poor, to say the least, so I was curious if anyone here had some tips to get me started.
i don't know why i feel so dry
Just do. That's really all there is to it. You'll figure out what you like to do when you start.

I think it helps to do it in small chunks. For example, I'd do half a verse. I'd then repeat that until I was close to positive that what I was playing was what was being played. I'd then move on once completed. I also like to just play along to about half the song and find the general area of notes and the general rhythm of semi-everything before I actually begin the transcribing process. It helps a bit in getting it down faster.
First you should find out if your guitar is tuned correctly for the song. Should be fairly obvious when it's in a drop tuning or down a half step or so.

Then what I do is take the first section. If it's a song of just chords, I'll find the root of the first chord, then the quality, and after that, any additional extensions.
If it's a more technical song, I'll listen to the first note and find that, then try to find the next couple notes. Once I think I've got that I play it with the song and see how well it matches up and make and necessary corrections. Repeat, doing only a couple notes at a time until the section is done. Then move to the next section. For the really fast runs, I'll listen for the starting note and the ending note, then find the scale it's probably in and fill it in from there, trying again and again until it sounds just right.

(It's MUCH easier if you're familiar with the song or have listened to it a couple times before starting to transcribe)

That's how I like to do it.

Takes a lot of patience but you'll slowly get better at it.
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Who's going to stop you? The music police?
Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Aug 25, 2010,
It helps to practice just thinking of melodies and figuring out how to match them on your fretboard so that you think of a melody and can play it because then you can think of somebody elses melody and use that skill to make it happen on the fretboard.
My best advice is just to start off with easy stuff and work your way up to more difficult songs.

Also, it definitely helps if you can internalize the song enough that you can either sing it or just hear it in your head, at least when it comes to single note lines. I always find it difficult to transcribe songs that I have trouble singing.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea

I'll take all of this into consideration when I start practicing.
i don't know why i feel so dry
Quote by Eastwinn
Recently I've had a desire to play songs from bands that don't have tabs here on UG. My transcribing abilities are poor, to say the least, so I was curious if anyone here had some tips to get me started.

To transcribe, really requires the ability to match up intervals and pitches. Your ear is simply trying to copy what you hear. Of course theory and scale knowledge etc has a big part in it. If its a faster passage, you might want to avail yourself of software that will allow you to hear each individual part played slowly, and transcribe that way.

When I start to transcribe the first note is the most important, and I see the song as a chain built off of that one note, be it a riff or phrase or chord. Because music tends to go together, I then start to work out the relationships from that chord.

For example recently I started to learn a SRV song for a student. No software, just listening to it on I tunes. I heard a Minor chord but it wasnt normal - experience told me something was "off ". A few experiments later - which took seconds, I had determined the starting chord was G#m6, and chromatically descended. Using theory and my ear helped the most. From there I had an idea of key center, I could hear where it changed when it changed etc.

Familiarity and practice. The more you do it, the easier it gets.


I'm one step ahead...
^ Tips for Transcription, written by your truly.
I'm just like the Jonas Brothers,

I'm no longer relevant and write mediocre music.