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February 17, 2010

Tab Toolkit

First off, let's get one thing straight. I hate guitar tab. Why? Several reasons! Tab is transcribed music. Very few tabbers out there actually manage to hear the right notes and hence put them down on paper correctly. Second, the guitar being the beastie that it is, if you want to play any note, or, heaven forbid, a chord you generally have several places you can play it. On top of that a true musician might choose to play the same lick in different spots on a whim! Tabbing all of that accurately isn't easy. Last, but not least, most tab sites on the internet are rife with pop-ups, spyware, viruses etc. Not very healthy places to go surfing! Oh, and just when you find a decent site, they get a take-down order!

So, in my experience, if I've wanted to learn a riff or song it's been quicker to just work it out by ear. As a last resort, I've hunted for tabs... usually finding 'versions' which are clearly less accurate than what I've already come up with.

So, that notwithstanding... I give you TabToolkit... yet another iPhone application. The burning question is: is this something worth having?

My somewhat surprising answer is... yes! I think so. Particularly if you actually like tab.

What does it do? It reads and stores tabs from websites then plays them back through midi, showing you the fingering on a virtual fretboard. My first surprise was that the program works at all, which it does, seamlessly. You can read in tab, select playback speeds, follow the tab itself or the fretboard, swipe to scroll back and forwards... pretty much anything you might want to do.

The other selling point is that it uses tabs in "Power Tab" format, which means multiple instruments can be accessed, including guitar, bass and piano etc. Whilst for a guitarist this may not be too important, but what it means is that the people putting in the effort to make these files seem to go the extra mile and get the transcription better than the scruffy oiks scratching grubby pencil marks across crumpled bits of paper. I won't say that all the tabs I've downloaded have been perfect, but they've been better.

Which brings me to another new discovery, a website called "Tab Library". For those of you who can use Power Tab, it's a pretty decent resource and, apparently, 100% legal! Imagine?!?!


Anonymous said...

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Steve Cholerton said...

If you have Guitar Pro 5 and if not, why not ? ( then the gp* files can be uploaded into the Tab Toolkit application. Awesome :-)

Kenski said...

I guess since I've never been a fan of the tab that's out there, buying GP never seemed worthwhile. Having said that, the GP files I've seen so far have been decent...