#1
I've been playing guitar for a 3 years as a hobbyist and have started of thinking of going into the music business in the area of guitars.

I've been using tabs for those years and have been thinking.
"Is reading tabs unprofessional?"

I've had "Google is your friend" syndrome so I couldn't find any answers so I headed here to my favorite site

Any Help?!
???
#4
No. They give you more information that's easier to digest than on with just notes.
You can hit an A note on the 5th fret E string or open on the A. A tab will tell you exactly how to play it.

EDIT: It's still important to read sheet music.
#5
It depends on what you want to do in the music industry. If you can only read tablature, you will not get many studio opportunities, as you will have to read music/chord charts that you have never seen before 99% of the time. If you just want to get paying gigs with a cover band, not being able to read music is more forgivable. I hear many guitarists ask if tablature is a newer concept, but the truth is tablature has been around since the Renaissance, so it is not something that "only beginners use". However, the standard across all musical instruments today is to be able to read notes on the staff.
#6
The main problem with tab is that you need to how what the song sounds like first in order to play it accurately. This could be a problem during session work, as obviously you'll never have heard the songs before. Sheet music doesn't have that problem. You also need to have a good ear for rhythm if you're just reading tab.
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#7
Quote by Silent Murder
No. They give you more information that's easier to digest than on with just notes.
You can hit an A note on the 5th fret E string or open on the A. A tab will tell you exactly how to play it.

EDIT: It's still important to read sheet music.


Out of my years of experience (sorta), I've noticed most things like equivalent pitch from playing around, but there are things I can only learn from sheet music.

My mind has a lot of things going on because I'm graduating high school this year and craploads of my "future" decisions need to be made
???
#9
Quote by amfilica
tabs is important for guitar but not piano


You CANNOT do tabs for piano, I've had friends "self-teach" themselves but all failed and wasted many $$$ on renting keyboards
???
#10
If I'm not able to have a musical career with just tabs, from my experience with what i know from tabulature, I'm in the amateur section of musicians.

Will I be able to learn sheet music in short succession? 2-4 months?
???
#11
I prefer using the best of both worlds when I transcribe. Write the staff and under it write the TAB. You should focus more on sheet music because it is a more universal way for musicians to communicate rather than tabs. As mentioned before only guitars can read tab
#12
Learning to read sheet music won't take you a long time.

Sight-reading, however, is the skill that most musicians will strive to achieve. This may take you anywhere from 2 months to 2 decades to get down.
#13
Anything in the music business other than being in a band and making it pretty much requires knowing how to read music.
^^The above is a Cryptic Metaphor^^


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#14
i do see where you're coming from however i'm under the schooling that "if it works why change it?" that being that if many people prefer tabs to sheet music then why should they learn sheet music?
Belief is a beautiful armour but makes for the heaviest sword.
#15
Quote by Dempsey68
i do see where you're coming from however i'm under the schooling that "if it works why change it?" that being that if many people prefer tabs to sheet music then why should they learn sheet music?


I believe it's that vibe you get from simplicity, I find the more difficult some things are, the more professional.

also tabs for guitars may not get me far in the music industry. Althoguh I wish to get into guitars, I will have a higher chance of getting into the general business so I'm weighing myself on learning it for my own good or leaving as is
???
#16
yes, completely and in every way. the majority of professionals either read, or learn by ear (generally the very lucrative gigs either require being a function band with a GIANT repetoire, and the ability to fake almost anything--meaning listen to a chorus, and be able to sound like you've known the tune for 30 years--or sightread like a monster). If you have the attitude that you don't need to learn to read and want to be a professional, your going to miss out on a lot of well paying gigs--though if your great at playing by ear you can still make a living (in some cities more then others, but in general if you can tear shit up by ear, with minimal to no rehersal, you'll be able to work. moreover, if you can read really well but not play by ear, unless you get a symphony contract, you probably will find it hard to get gigs).
all the best.
(insert self-aggrandizing quote here)
#17
Quote by Silent Murder
No. They give you more information that's easier to digest than on with just notes.
You can hit an A note on the 5th fret E string or open on the A. A tab will tell you exactly how to play it.

EDIT: It's still important to read sheet music.

No.

If I gave you tabs to a song that you weren't familiar with or have never heard of before, would you be able to play it correctly without having to listen to the song? Do tabs tell you anything about the dynamics of the song, which notes to accent, or the rhythm of the notes? There's some important things that sheet music has, that tabs don't have. Tabs are still very useful though, and do have their purpose, but you're limited to learning songs from tabs which you already know, and have to listen to the song in order to get all of the information you need.

Tabs are great, and if you feel that you are never going to ever have to read sheet music for guitar, then really you don't need to learn it, it'll just be a waste of time (still learn music theory though).

EDIT: Just read the OP more throughouly, ya for the music business you should know how to read sheet music.
Last edited by zincabopataurio at May 4, 2011,
#18
Quote by zincabopataurio
No.

If I gave you tabs to a song that you weren't familiar with or have never heard of before, would you be able to play it correctly without having to listen to the song? Do tabs tell you anything about the dynamics of the song, which notes to accent, or the rhythm of the notes? There's some important things that sheet music has, that tabs don't have. Tabs are still very useful though, and do have their purpose, but you're limited to learning songs from tabs which you already know, and have to listen to the song in order to get all of the information you need.

Tabs are great, and if you feel that you are never going to ever have to read sheet music for guitar, then really you don't need to learn it, it'll just be a waste of time (still learn music theory though).


as in... tabs can only get you so far?
the farther you get in music with tabs the more difficult but with sheet music, it's more consistent I guess??

Like Drums Vs Guitar

Guitar is like sheet music, harder to start but easy to get better once you get used to it?

Drums are tabs, easy to start but more difficult to get to "pro" level as in tabs have their limits?
???
#19
Quote by zincabopataurio
No.

If I gave you tabs to a song that you weren't familiar with or have never heard of before, would you be able to play it correctly without having to listen to the song? Do tabs tell you anything about the dynamics of the song, which notes to accent, or the rhythm of the notes? There's some important things that sheet music has, that tabs don't have. Tabs are still very useful though, and do have their purpose, but you're limited to learning songs from tabs which you already know, and have to listen to the song in order to get all of the information you need.

Tabs are great, and if you feel that you are never going to ever have to read sheet music for guitar, then really you don't need to learn it, it'll just be a waste of time (still learn music theory though).

EDIT: Just read the OP more throughouly, ya for the music business you should know how to read sheet music.

yes they do. you just have to notate it.
not sure if you've ever seen this:

Duration Legend
---------------
W - whole; H - half; Q - quarter; E - 8th; S - 16th; T - 32nd; X - 64th; a - acciaccatura
+ - note tied to previous; . - note dotted; .. - note double dotted
Uncapitalized letters represent notes that are staccato (1/2 duration)
Irregular groupings are notated above the duration line
Duration letters will always appear directly above the note/fret number it represents the
duration for. Duration letters with no fret number below them represent rests. Multi-
bar rests are notated in the form Wxn, where n is the number of bars to rest for. Low
melody durations appear below the staff

Tablature Legend
----------------
h - hammer-on
p - pull-off
b - bend
pb - pre-bend
r - bend release (if no number after the r, then release immediately)
/\ - slide into or out of (from/to "nowhere")
s - legato slide
S - shift slide
- natural harmonic
[n] - artificial harmonic
n(n) - tapped harmonic
~ - vibrato
tr - trill
T - tap
TP - trem. picking
PM - palm muting
\n/ - tremolo bar dip; n = amount to dip
\n - tremolo bar down
n/ - tremolo bar up
/n\ - tremolo bar inverted dip
= - hold bend; also acts as connecting device for hammers/pulls
<> - volume swell (louder/softer)
x - on rhythm slash represents muted slash
o - on rhythm slash represents single note slash

Misc Legend
-----------
| - bar
|| - double bar
||o - repeat start
o|| - repeat end
*| - double bar (ending)
: - bar (freetime)
$ - Segno
& - Coda
#20
Tabs are really unprofessional. Even though I'm 16 and have only been playing guitar for 3 years, but when I took advanced guitar this year, everything was in sheet, and I didn't know how to read sheet, so I had to pick it up as it went, and it is really difficult to catch music theory as it's being thrown. Tabs might be universal, but big time musicans read sheet music, probably because since guitar is easy to pick up and learn, they learned piano before that or something. But most of the professionals today know how to read sheet because they play more than one instrument.

I'd say they're unprofessional.
DUDE

...too far...
#21
There are some obvious flaws with tabs:

- As pointed out above, you need to know what the song sounds like to get it right.

- This also points out that it's only good for covering other's songs. You can't expect your bandmate to tab out his song for you.

- It doesn't help you understand the song, improvise or transpose. Not helpful if you want to change the key of the song quickly, or make up your own licks along the way.

- They are hard to read in a high pressure environment. If someone throws a chord sheet in front of me and says "ok we're playing this now", I can get through it pretty well without having heard the song before. With tabs, not so much.

- Most tabs are wrong. It's a simple fact. Most tabs are wrong.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#22
Also, because this always comes up...

Sheet music does tell you which fret to play notes on by telling you which finger to use which implies a certain position. A 4 over the E means play it fifth fret while 0 means open string. Fingerings are largely optional and are presented more so that way in sheet music.
#23
Quote by solidrane
as in... tabs can only get you so far?
the farther you get in music with tabs the more difficult but with sheet music, it's more consistent I guess??

Like Drums Vs Guitar

Guitar is like sheet music, harder to start but easy to get better once you get used to it?

Drums are tabs, easy to start but more difficult to get to "pro" level as in tabs have their limits?


Every instrument is hard in the sense that playing with fluency requires true musicianship and many hours of practice.

As for reading music and drums -- there is a famous story of Steely Dan hiring Steve Gadd for the title track. He cold read the complex breakdown that features Wayne Shorter. He nailed it on the second take -- Fagan and Becker had to pick their jaws off the floor. Whether or not the story is completely true, Steve Gadd is one of the highest paid drummers because a) he is a MOFO and b) he can read a chart fluently.

Studio guitarists that I have worked with are very fluent readers and know a lot of songs off the top of their heads. If you want to try to get into that game and you show up with tabs you'll politely never get called back.

Music is an extremely competitive business. The players who know the tunes, show up on time, leave their egos at the door and are highly musically literate get called back -- the rest play Louie Louie in a bar for tips or get a real day job.
#24
If you get paid, you're a professional. IMO the opinions here on this topic which suggest that TAB is unprofessional are coming at it from at worst a myopic point of view, and at best, limited real-world experience. Notwithstanding, it's always great to learn to sight read.

IMO TABS are not unprofessional, not in the sense that showing up late for a session is, but they CAN be if they slow you down and you cant perform on the session like you need to. But for example I was recently recruited to be the guitar player for an up and coming singer. Problem is, he played country. I've been playing for 26 years and never once played country, not like the big guys do it, like Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Danny Gatton, Johnny Hiliand, Albert Lee, Scotty Moore, and James Burton do it. I've never hybrid picked 16ths using a pick and 2-3 fingers on my picking hand, doing pedal steel licks, banjo rolls and the like.

But, that's what I have had to teach myself/woodshed how to do, for the last 3 weeks, and with my first show coming up in less than a month, guess what I've done?

I've tabbed the whole thing when it comes to working out leads.

To those who think that its more professional to use sheet notation to do double stop pedal steel microbends and chickin pickin...I say to you...YOU GO RIGHT AHEAD AND DO IT THAT way. I wrote it all out in TAB and I set a practice regimen for each lick.

There are times that TABS are going to be the thing that you need. Context is everything. You have to have good ears, good attitudes and a good work ethic to get far. Notation is important, but so are TABS. If the only tool you have is a hammer, the entire world looks like a nail.

Best,

Sean
#25
All opinions aside, you've said you're interested in going into the music business playing guitar, therefore you should be learning to read standard notation. The only thing you'll be doing by avoiding it is severely disadvantaging your opportunities.

Also, don't worry about it being difficult. It's not that hard to pick up!
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#26
Quote by CrazyTy
yes they do. you just have to notate it.
not sure if you've ever seen this:

I don't mean to be rude (and I'm only just starting anyway so I'm probably wrong) but, if your going to learn all that notation, wouldn't it be just as simple to learn to read sheet music?
#28
I don't think tabs are necessarily "unprofessional", but I agree that you won't often find them used in a professional environment.

Also your original post is itself very vague, what exactly do you mean by "going into the music business in the area of guitars". Regardless of what you meant I can tell you this much, you generally don't "choose" to go into the music business - it's something that more often than you fall into more by luck than judgement. Obviosuly you need a certain level of skill in whatever it is you plan on doing, but as far as a profession goes it boils down to being in the right place at the right time, being lucky and putting in a hell of a lot of donkey work - your musical abilities themselved play very little part in determining your success as there's a million and one people all doing the exact same thing as you.
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#29
Well, if a person relies on tab I would say that it signifies a lack of experience which generally is associated with being an amateur. An amateur ofcourse is not a professional. But so what? If you want to be a pro, tab has nothing to do with it. It's not like not readying tab is going to automatically put you in the pro category.

play your guitar, and don't worry about stupid shit.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at May 5, 2011,
#30
Yes. You need to learn notation if you ever want a chance to do anything lucrative. Even picking up gigs with bands, chances are they're going to throw you atleast a chord chart, or a head line notated out, and expect you to play it perfectly. I was always naive about this kind of thing, thinking that music institutes and the like would just accept tab as commonplace, but no. Who ever said that tab is universal is wrong. It's widespread for guitarists at home, or say, lute players in the renaissance. But since the conception of standard notation, it has become the medium for almost all musical transcription.

Don't worry though, it doesn't take that long to pick up. I have heard that guitar is the hardest instrument to sight read, but I've only been practicing sight reading for this year and have already reached an adequate level. My suggestion is to get the real books and just pick out tunes at random, and attempt to sight read through the melodies. It will absolutely kick your ass at first, but eventually it will just become second nature. Good luck.
#31
Quote by CrazyTy
(notation legend which i assume is the rosetta stone)


that shit makes sheet music look simple. i mean, i can read tabs (honestly, has anyone ever really needed help learning tabs? i see threads that people aren't sure how to read them and i just facepalm myself twice for emphasis), but they're pretty much first-grade reading level for guitarists. on their own, they're pretty much useless (even with all those fancy notation symbols you have there). and i personally think it's harder to sightread tabulature than to sightread sheet music, but maybe that's just me.

if you want to be taken seriously (as well as exponentially increase your chances of surviving as a musician), you're going to need to know how to read sheet.

i don't hate tab at all, in fact i prefer it along with sheet music if possible. but tab alone is extremely unprofessional -- it loses its value once the guitarist is competent enough to play after having learned by tab. it's unprofessional in the sense that you're going to look like a musical infant in comparison to someone who can match your skill on the guitar and do it on first sight with sheet music. be realistic - if you were applying for a position at a high-paying gig with just one other guitarist and he could match your skill but was also a competent reader, which do you think would be chosen?

however, guitarmunky brings up a great point. not reading tab isn't going to make you a professional by any means.

tl;dr - there's nothing wrong with tab when combined with the sheet music - it saves a lot of time for the performer in that the positions of the notes and the most practical fingerings have already been devised beforehand.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#32
Here's a tidbit I think I should say. I talked with my schools music instructor, and discovered that colleges (around here at least) dont expect you to know anything. So, if being a is yuot goal, then you well have more succeed with schooling, ergo, you will learn staff and how to sight read.
Understand nothing, in order to learn everything.

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#33
A guitar professor at my University had the following to say:

"The problem with tabs is that it doesn't allow musicians to understand why they are playing certain notes on certain strings instead of the same notes on other strings. When learning to read sheet music with a teacher, certain problems arise as to where the fingers best lie on the fretboard for certain passages, and the teacher's clarification allows the student to understand, internalize, and move forward, thus developing a knowledge of instrument itself, which contributes to a better overall understanding of the music. Tabs, on the otherhand, contribute to a reliance on tabs, because all it does is say "finger goes here, play this string," it does not show the relationship between the written passage and the audible sound produced, and thus instead of developing a broad musical understanding with each piece, it forces the student to think of music as hand-position-followed-by-hand-position, and hinders musical development."
Last edited by nmitchell076 at May 5, 2011,
#34
To be taken as a serious musician by people who dont play guitar reading musical notation is important. However in my findings most studio guitarists/college guitar professors predominately use tabs to teach.
#35
As a professional musician, you will be expected to read sheet by almost anyone you come across. Sheet music (and sometimes lead sheets) is the preferred format in almost every professional setting.
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