Musings of an anonymous geek

July 11, 2005

Free Guitar Tab Sucks

Filed under: Technology — m0j0 @ 9:24 pm

It’s true. Anyone who has played guitar for some extended period of time, who cut their teeth on the tablature found in “Guitar for the Practicing Musician”, or the later “Guitar One” will note the amazingly huge gap between the quality of those (usually flawless) transcriptions and the ones you find online for free.

My guess is that this is because most people don’t have a very good ear, or don’t spend quality time with the songs, and are happy with “good enough”. It is definitely true that 99% of the people listening to you won’t know the difference… unless a real guitarist shows up and plays it right. Then everyone is all like “that dude is way better”.

So my cousin just graduated high school and has been accepted to a really good college. I come from a long line of guitarists and other musicians (but mostly guitarists), so of course his upcoming graduation party will involve a garage that’s converted to house a band made up of a drummer, and then the family, which can rotate on all of the other needed instruments. These events are generally lots of fun, and it gives some of us who don’t get much chance to play out the opportunity to exercise a bit in front of an audience.

So I thought it would be cute to learn Third Eye Blind’s “Graduate” for the performance. I have the mp3 on my Mac, but I figured it’d be quicker if there was a tab available, so I googled for it. I found about 1000 hits for it. Unfortunately, it seems they’re all just copies of the same tab. It’s disgustingly bad. I mean not even the main riff of the song is transcribed properly! I’m not talking about a note off here or there, I’m talking this is totally completely freakin’ wrong.

I wouldn’t be writing this if “Graduate” was the only victim of this kind of amateurism. I’ve looked up tabs plenty of times online. The best I’ve been able to do was use them to maybe help me think of another way to play something to get my brain out of a logjam or something. Generally, I realize that by the time I find a good tab I could’ve learned it by ear, which is what I’m off to do now. If anyone is interested in the tab leave a comment and I’ll post it here later.


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