As I practice more I find myself substituting notes to make bass lines easier to play.
If I see a 5 on the tab, (e through d string) I play the open string instead if the rest of the notes are on the first 3 frets. Or use the b on the g string instead of the one on the e string. It makes for smoother playing. Why jump all over the fretboard if it's not necessary?
Last edited by bar2271 at Apr 14, 2016,
That explanation makes sense.
I find this method helps a lot on Rush Freewill and Ted Nugent Stranglehold, as well.
I do the same on guitar. If the song calls for a fast chord change from f to g, I just slide down to the 3rd fret instead of the open g. Same thing from d to b. Use the melody b (4 string) instead of the rhythm b (barred). Just learned those differentiates from the mel bay guitar chord encyclopedia. Sorry for getting a bit off topic, there.
You could ask 10 people and get 10 different opinions for this. IMHO, do whatever works for you - the listener cannot distinguish between an open string or a fretted note - only you will know. I have always believed in "economy of motion", and I choose the notes that require the least movement or change in hand position.
First of all the OP is absolutely spot on. Some of the tabs here have the notes right but a lot of the fretting is a bit odd. As more and more tabs are being worked out and put up in midi form/guitar pro etc that's inevitable. Economy of motion is pretty important, as is knowing where the notes are on the fretboard so knowing alternate fretting positions is great.

Just for discussion though there's a few other considerations, I tend to avoid open strings when learning new songs. The first problem is damping, any open string will go on ringing until it is damped whereas a fretted string will stop as you lift the fretting finger, so you need more right hand damping if you play open strings. Probably less of a problem if you palm mute but I tend to play two finger style rather than with a pick.

The other issue is that when playing with a band you often need to transpose a song quickly. Much easier with a song where all the notes are fretted as you can usually get away with a simple shift in your hand position to play the new key.

Equally there are songs where you need to use an open string to give you time for a shift in hand position.

So, no right or wrong here and it's worth experimenting with alternatives when learning a song, then do what works best for you.
Good points. It does ring more, but that also depends on the strings and tone settings, as well as the song. Flatwounds don't ring as much. Stranglehold has more of a steady ring anyway.
One other thing I noticed. Finding the same octave on a different string is 5 half steps either direction and one string down (towards the nut counting the open string as a half step), one string up counting towards the bridge. This can become as easy as finding a fifth with a little practice.
NOW I understand the inverted intervals. If the note is below the root, you choose a root of the same octave and count back to the note.