umm.. i've been playing guitar since june and um... my friend started playing in august of this year, i can over all trump him at playing things at tempo, rhythm, and lead... but he can tab things by ear... and i was amazed cause i showed him a song that he hadn't learned b4 and in a matter of seconds he got in down easy, not at the right tempo but he could play it. I was first like " wow how'd u do that" then i got mad at myself.... and now i want to know... is there ways to know what to listen for or how to tab by ear?
Practice, Practice, Practice!

try to write out songs yourself
and work on ear training

Know your intervals
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Intervals are the key. If you can find the first chord or note and your ear can get the interval to the next note you're golden.

The guitar player in my band can figure out most songs on about five minutes just by being able to hear the relationship of the notes.
Also Perfect Pitch!
Some people are born with it.
Others get it through practice which is called Relative Pitch.
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I don't think a lot of black people play guitar anymore.

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trainear.com you've gotta train your ear. first recognize intervals, then learn specific pitches. also, it'll be easier if you play multiple instruments.

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ionno, i'm a natural at that

I guess if you want to learn it you'll have to practise (its just the same with all things in life, you only learn by doing!)
i already knew about perfect pitch, but i thought it was a bunch of bull until my friend started playing, now i WILL use the link and things u guys gave me thanks^^
perfect pitch wont be achieved through relative pitch....ever. Relative pith is reognizing one note in relation to another. Perfect pitch is distinguishing a note with no other note to judge it by. Its described as hearing the 'colour' of the note. I fully believe it can be learned..but lots of people are adamant if your not born with it it cant be learned. I have listened to David Lucas Burges Perfet Pitch course and totally believe with lots of work it can be developed...I will get round to this lol. He talks about listening like a child and letting your ear open. Whilst I cant tell what given notes are (yet)...I can hear subtle differences in all the notes and I assume this is how it is aquired with lots of work.
But back to your question. Your friend picked up what you were playing because he had a good ear. Spend time working on your ear and you will be surprised how quickly you get results. Eventually you will be able to name chords by ear etc. Download the program Earmaster. Its the best I have came across. I used to use Functional Ear Trainer but thats not so great compared to Earmaster.