My question is sort of twofold. On one hand, I am wondering whether or not there is a sort of method to follow to figuring out how to play a song by ear, maybe a set of guiding principles or that type of thing. I do realize that this really is a shot in the dark, and that it is most likely the sort of thing that you figure out as you go along. However, I thought that maybe a lot of skilled guitarists on this site could have some tips or tricks for this sort of thing. The second part of this question is not really about techniques, so I figured I would ask before deciding where to post it. I was curious about where I could post suggestions on songs to be tabbed. There is a Trip Shakespeare song I think is pretty cool, but I can't seem to find a tab anywhere, including ultimate guitar's very own app, for which I have pro tabs and tools.

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interval training helps a lot.
After I know the chords to the song from there it is all interval training.
I have a lot of songs that I reference back to
e.g. I know that the intro line to 'somewhere over the rainbow' is an octave. "Some---------where"
so if a part sounds like Somewhere over the rainbow I know its an octave.

so apparently Justinguitar uses 'somewhere over the rainbow' as well as a reference to octaves.
"ba doo doo ba doo doo ba doo daa"
- earth,wind, and fire
Last edited by hecks at Jan 10, 2017,
Yeah, basically you want to learn some music theory. Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly possible to do it by trial and error but it helps a lot to have a frame of reference for all the sounds you're trying to work out.
Actually called Mark!

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People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

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i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


Maybe try a song first that has already been transcribed so you can compare your attempt to other versions.
My advice would be to attempt small sections eg a two bar or four bar phrase at a time. It's also a good idea to try singing the part you want to transcribe before you attempt to work it out. There are also some good apps available for ear training especially if it's the chords of a particular song you are trying to work out. Guitar Tuna has some really cool game features for example. If it's more riff based, then it's z good idea to get your head around some scales and as mentioned before, listen out for the intervals or if it moves in steps. Listen to see if the notes rise or fall in pitch or if they stay on the same note. It takes time to learn aural techniques so be patient.
Try to figure out the chords first. It makes learning the melody a lot easier, depending on what you're playing. While it's good to develop your ear, if you're gonna do a recital and have a chord sheet or tab available to you, I would recommend that you initially play by ear, then double check against whatever resource you've found, even if it's just to make sure you're on the right track (provided it's been transcribed correctly).

I used to think that looking at a tab was cheating, but while it's good to train your ear, it's better to know that you're playing the right thing in a performance setting. Hardly anyone will care whether you learnt by ear or by tab, what matters is that you're playing the right notes at the right time.

Think of that next time you are not allowed to laugh.

Re. your opening statement. I've found it quicker and easier to find the pentatonic scale first, then work back to the chords from that. Whatever works, including tabs and SN. While I think it is good to learn something note-for-note as a way of improving one's skills, I have never played a "tribute" version of anything, at most, it has been "in the style of". My mate, who is a very good pub band guitarist, reckons that provided you can play the hook(s), the audience doesn't care about the rest.
I learn almost exclusively by ear, though I dabbled in tab at the start for harder material.

1) It's dead simple - take a very small section of the song ( 2 or 4 bars) and through trial and error and repetition just try to find the notes - don't move on until you have conquered the first section. Once you have that section down, then move to the next and do the same things. Then link the two parts together and move onto the next section. I strongly suggest you start with single note melody lines and simple power chord songs - like early Black Sabbath ( paranoid album) or Danzig I - where the notes are simple and easy to hear.

2) If you can sing it, you can play it - meaning that if your brain can recreate the sounds in your head they will be easier to decipher on the guitar - so you need to know the material well in order to learn it.
Quote by uadialej
try to figure out bass part first, over 90% of cases bass is playing chord root, then check if chord is major or minor
use good headphones

And don't copy someone else's post in an attempt to disguise that you're really posting spam.
I just started trying to incorporate this in to my practice, I started with scream and shout by the beatles. I used Justin guitar because he posts the song below his lesson. I listened to the song , figured out a part and then played his video to see if I had done it correctly.