Hey, my name is AJ but mostly all of you know me as TheMutts. I have a pretty good amount of tabs under my belt, and most of them I have tabbed my self by ear. I will not hide the fact that a good portion of the tabs I have submitted are from other transcribers/websites. And I do give credit to the transcriber if I ever do submit their work. However I try to do my own tabs if I can.
So first off if you want to successfully and accurately tab a song, you need to know and understand the techniques and effects of a guitar. For example, you got to know the difference between a legato slide and a shift slide, or the difference between a Natural Harmonic and an Artificial Harmonic. So if you are just beginning and do not know this kind of things, please don't try and write/submit tablature until you gain some more experience. If you are an experienced guitarist, then let's move on
Here are some first steps before you start tabbing a song. Let's say you hear this song that no one has tabbed or no one has tabbed accurately. You want to be the one to get it right. You open of your notepad program or whatever and you don't know where to start Here is what you need to do.
This should be the first thing you write down before you start putting down tabs. What tuning is the song in. This shouldn't be to hard. You can easily hear when a song is dropped. Bands that play their songs in drop tunings usually play a lot on the low E string. So listen for that. It's a little harder to tell if it's something like half-step dropped down. But you need to listen to carefully. You'll find that a good ear is the most important thing to tabbing any kind of song. If you can't figure it out, look at tabs already submitted, if they are all pretty much mutual on a tuning, then they probably are right., if they are different from one of another, than just go with your best judgment.
The Band, The Guitarists
You should know a little bit about the band itself. If you know the band has two guitarists, you gonna have to tab for both guitars and that's some what tricky if you are just beginning. So try out some punk bands first that have only one guitarists. As you get better and more ear trained than you will progress up to harder songs. Keep in mind that a lot of the times that in songs, one guitarist put down more than you layer of guitar tracks, so it seems like there are two guitarists or more. That's why I say start with easy stuff like some punk songs. For example songs like Brain Stew or Dammit.
Ok, so there are easy songs to tab, and harder songs to tab. It's no secret that bands like Blink 182 have really easy songs. So tabbing them isn't too hard, even if you're starting out. Let's say you want to tab out Dammit. What are the first things you do? That's right, tuning and how many guitar tracks. In Dammit there's only one guitar track and it is in standard tuning. So you did that, now where do you go? Well it simple, listen to the song a couple times. After you do that you should have a good idea if you are ready to tab it or if it's too hard. If you are ready, then lets move on to actually tabbing.
Ok, the intro to Dammit is all single notes. And when tabbing single notes, it's important to find the root note. Like if you were practicing scales. So what you do is listen to the beginning of the intro to Dammit and picture what relative area would that note be at. So you play a few notes and then you hit it! The root (or first) note to the intro is on the A string, 3rd fret. Ok so you got that. Now what? Well you move onto the next note. Listen to the intro and does it go from the root note higher or lower? It goes higher so move along a fret or two or you could try going up one string and playing a couple notes. Don't forget if you go up one string, try playing it open. Ok, so now you found the second note. Open on the D string (or the 5th fret on the A string). So just keep doing this. And it always helps to be organized by breaking the measure into sections. Like in a phone number, you put dashes so it's a little bit easier to remember. So now you keep finding those notes and writing them down and now you have the entire intro tabbed out. Good job. Onto the next step.
Before I tell you anything about the verse, if want all the readers to know why I am describing to you how to play Dammit. Well you see, I am giving you techniques and advise that you can use to tab pretty much any song. I am simply using Dammit as an example. So in the Verse, you can tell they move from notes to chords. And by listening to the song carefully and by experimenting with you guitar, you can tell they are most likely simple power chords. There are two different ways to find just what power chord. You can find the root note of the power chord or you can just play power chords down the fret board until you find the right one. For songs like this, that's as easy as it gets. The rest of the song is as easy as what we've just covered, so you can take it from there.
That's it for Part 1 of the article. Here's what you can expect in Part 2: