Tabs Vs Sheet Music: Which One Should You Learn
Tabs vs. sheet music/notation Nearly everyone has an opinion on which one you should learn. But, after years of experience I dont think one size fits all.
For some bassists, reading sheet music is nothing but a distraction that wont actually help them. For these players, learning and reading tabs makes total sense.
On the other side of the coin, some bass players would get almost nothing out of learning songs from tabs. Learning to read music from the start would make far more sense than trying to decipher tabs.
Theres a kind of debate thats been going on for years about whether you should learn tabs or notation. And, while I understand both sides, I just dont think the same method works for everyone.
Thats why I put together this weeks video, to break things down and tell you whether or not you should be learning sheet music or tabs.
Youll find out if tabs or notation wins in the categories of ease, quality, price, fun, time/speed, and universality, but Ill also share the hidden drawbacks of using both tabs and notation.
Check out the lesson here:
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Translate The Notes To Your Bass Guitar
Now that you know how to read sheet music for bass guitar in theory, its time to move your knowledge to the real world. To do this, you will need to know how to translate the notes on the sheet to the actual strings on your bass guitar.
Notes Written On the Staff Lines
First, lets go over the notes that are written directly on the staff lines. From bottom to top, the notes are the G, B, D, F, and A. Take a look at the following chart:
Mnemonic device: If you are having trouble memorizing the letters representing the notes written on the staff lines, try using this mnemonic device. Replace G, B, D, F, and A for the words Grizzly Bears Dont Fly Airplanes. Of course, you can always replace these words with any other mnemonic device of your choosing. However, this one is a classic and has been shown to work wonderfully for most people.
Notes Written Between the Staff Lines
Now, lets go over the notes that are written on the spaces between the staff lines. From bottom to top, they are A, C, E, and G. Take a look at the following chart to get a better idea of how that looks like:
Without a doubt, memorizing where each of these notes is located on the sheet can be the biggest challenge when reading music for bass guitar. However, you will find that it gets easier and easier with practice and dedication as time goes. Using certain mnemonic devices can always be of help when it comes to mastering this.
Why Do We Need A Bass Clef
The Bass Clef always poses problems for people trying to learn how to read music.
I often get asked what the point of the Bass Clef is because its existence just seems to make life harder for no good reason!!
Well, the reason we have the Bass Clef is simple to make music easier to read by avoiding the use of too many ledger lines.
Let me explain.
Lets take a piece of music where there are lots of notes below Middle C. If we were to use a Treble Clef then we would have to use loads of ledger lines this would make the music really difficult to read.
However, Middle C in the Bass Clef goes on a ledger line above the stave so there are loads of notes we can write below Middle C without having to use any ledger lines. This is a really good thing because ledger lines can be a bit of a nightmare to read.
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Learn To Read Bass Guitar Tab: The Fundamentals
If youve ever wanted to learn a song on bass, theres a good chance you typed the name of the song into Google and the first thing that came up was a result that looked like this:
A strange mishmash of numbers and dashes and letters arranged in a way that kind of resembles your bass fretboard.
Well, you came across a piece of tabbed music.
Tablatures is music represented by where the note is on the fretboard, not by the note itself. Put another way, if you go to the A string and press the 3rd fret, youre playing a C only the C is not represented like this:
but instead like how you see above with a number 3.
Tab music is considerably easier to learn than standard notation. The logic is very intuitive: go to that string, press that fret and the not comes out.
The use of numbers as they correspond to frets is a very beginner-musician-friendly approach to learning song. Pretty much anyone brand new to an instrument can pick the instrument up, look up what fret corresponds to what position on the neck and play.
However, let me ask you this question: whats the rhythm of that tabbed passage above? We know the notes, but how do you actually play it?
There are tabs that are more detailed, however. Take this excerpt from Rushs YYZ:
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How To Read Bass Tab Summary
Theres not too much to reading bass tab. Its just fret numbers on string lines. Bass tab can be a real aid to beginners before they have learned to read standard music notation or have learned the note names on the fretboard. And, it can be helpful to show complicated fingerings alongside standard notation. You should be at least familiar with bass tab.
Identifying Where That Note Is Located On The Fretboard
The way to do this is to memorise a few places on the bass and associate where those notes are on the stave.
The open strings are a great place to start.
If you learn this then you can learn every other note relative to the open strings. Going in this direction on the stave, the notes get higher in pitch. Lower down the stave , the notes get lower in pitch.
Before moving on to some symbols you need to know, lets find a few more notes. Remember, you need to know the notes on the bass fretboard before you do this! There is a certain amount of memorisation at this point but you will get it in no time.
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The Other Notes On The Guitar
Starting with the spaces directly above and below the staff.
The open D string is notated just under the bottom line (again remember that it?s all alphabetical.
The 3rd fret e string is notated just above the top line i.e. this note is a G and is notated one space above the F .
What about notes higher and lower than those?
For anything that is higher or lower than those notes we simply add in a small line. The line won?t go across the entire staff like the main lines it will be just wide enough for the note to go onto or under.
For example the C note will be placed on a line just under the staff.
The B would sit just under that:
The A would sit on a second line created:
The G note sits under that second line:
The F note sits on the third extra line:
And finally the E note will sit just under that 3rd line.
The same goes for the higher notes. Playing an A on the high e string the note would sit on a line created just above the staff.
And so on as you get higher and higher notes.
Play around with the notes on the guitar and where they would be located on the staff. The best way to become familiar with this is to play the notes.
How To Read Bass Guitar Music
Fantastic news youre on your way to reading music!
With that information, for those who study it for enough time and get used to recognizing which line and space equal which note, you will get fluent in reading music in no time.
Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of information and facts which I havent given you yet but its about managing the facts to not ever overwhelm you. Whenever you happen to be confident with these specifics, youll naturally find out a lot more
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As long as its music-related, it could finish up in the e-mail. Brand-new music, strategies, items, critiques anything at all.
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Tablature: A Quick Easy Way To Learn Music
If you want to learn your favorite songs, but havent yet learned how to read music, dont worry! Many music books are available that contain tablature, or tabs. These make it easy to learn leads and bass lines.
There are tab books available for many different instruments. This article concentrates on tabs for guitar and bass guitar.
Special Markings On The Strings
These are the basics of reading tabs on bass guitars, but there are some special characters you may find as you play. In many cases, new players can just ignore these symbols for now and add them in later.
These special markings add specific techniques that create an iconic sound when playing.
While the following list is by no means a complete one, this should be enough to get you started:
- Forward slash means to slide up to the next pitch noted.
- Back slash means to slide down to the next pitch notes.
- The caret means to bend the string.
- An H means to perform a hammer-on .
- Ps mean to do a pull-off
- Xs mean to ghost the note .
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What Does P Mean On Bass Tabs
Notation for Pull-Off and Tab Pull-off notation is similar to hammer-on notation in that it makes use of a slur mark to link two descending notes. This may be found in both musical notation and bass tablature, respectively. When the slur sign is placed above or below an arced line indicating a pull-off, the letters P or PO are written above or below it.
How To Read Bass Guitar Sheet Music
- The first step in learning how to play bass tabs is to understand how the lines correspond to the bass strings on your instrument. The next stage in learning to read bass is to pay attention to the fret numbers. As you read the tab from left to right, youll notice that each line/string has a number on it. These numbers indicate which fret should be held down and which strings should be played.
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More On Key Signatures
If the key signature has sharps or flats these sharps or flats are always shown in a particular order on the staff.
For example if you are in the key of C minor then you would have 3 flats. The B flat is shown first, then the E flat and then the A flat.
The flats are listed in the following order.
This makes sense because the keys with one sharp are G major and E minor. These keys have an F# . The keys with two sharps have F# and C# . And so on.
The same goes for the flats. The F Major and D Minor both have just one flat and that flat is Bb. The keys with 2 flats have Bb and Eb .
That was probably a lot of information to take in if you are new to this stuff. It?s o.k. if you don?t get it at first it takes a bit of understanding to begin with.
I encourage you to play the notes on your guitar to become more familiar with them and how it works.
Write out a simple staff with a key signature and the scale of that key signature. For example you could start with A major. Write out the scale using the key signature as shown above and play the notes on the guitar making sure you are actually playing the A major scale and read the music as you do it.
How To Read Bass Tab Conclusion
It is not hard to learn how to play bass tab. By playing famous melodies and tunes that you already know you will pick it up very quickly. Text tabs from the internet can be hard to follow and inaccurate. However, theyre plentiful and usually free, so are a good resource as you learn! Find out more about the history of tablature here.
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All The Notes Together
If you didnt know, the musical alphabet goes ABCDEFG and then starts at A again.
As you alternate between a line and a space all you are doing is going up or down the musical alphabet. You can find ANY noteusing this rule.
There are notes above and below the highest and lowest lines on the stave. You can find those notes using the same rule you just read.
How To Read Bass Tab
Bass tablature, or bass tab, is a pretty simple system of music notation for bass. You will find it in music books, bass magazines, and all over the internet.
IMPORTANT: Learning to play bass tabs and songs is only a small fraction of what learning to be a bass player is all about. If you haven’t already, be sure to read my article on mistakes beginner bass players make in the bass basics section.
On to how to read bass tabs…
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Learn The Basic Symbols Of Notation
Music is made up of a variety of symbols, the most basic of which are the staff, the clefs, and the notes. All music contains these fundamental components, and to learn how to read music, you must first familiarize yourself with these basics.
The staff consists of five lines and four spaces. Each of those lines and each of those spaces represents a different letter, which in turn represents a note. Those lines and spaces represent notes named A-G, and the note sequence moves alphabetically up the staff.
There are two main clefs with which to familiarize yourself the first is a treble clef. The treble clef has the ornamental letter G on the far left side. The Gs inner swoop encircles the G line on the staff. The treble clef notates the higher registers of music, so if your instrument has a higher pitch, such as a flute, violin or saxophone, your sheet music is written in the treble clef. Higher notes on a keyboard also are notated on the treble clef.
We use common mnemonics to remember the note names for the lines and spaces of the treble clef. For lines, we remember EGBDF by the word cue Every Good Boy Does Fine. Similarly, for the spaces, FACE is just like the word face.
A common mnemonic to remember note names for the lines of the bass clef is: GBDFA Good Boys Do Fine Always. And for the spaces: ACEG, All Cows Eat Grass.
What Is A Ghost Note On Bass Guitar
Notes that are muffled while being plucked produce a percussive sound, which is referred to as ghost notes. They are frequently utilized before a note in order to give the line a quirky vibe. You only need to rest your left hand over the string to deaden it before plucking with your right hand to play a ghost note on your guitar.
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How Time Signatures Work
The first 4 in 4:4 time refers to the number of beats in the bar. The second 4 in 4:4 time refers to the fact that the bars are measured in quarter notes. Time signatures measured with quarter notes are sometimes known as quarter-note time.
3:4 time is also a quarter note time the 4 after the ?:? represents that the time signature is measured in quarter notes. 1 quarter note in 3:4 time = 1 beat. In 3:4 time there are 3 beats in the bar. So there are 3 quarter notes.
Non quarter-note time signatures
Not all time signatures are in ?quarter note time?.
For example 6:8 time.
6:8 time is measured in ?eight notes? . In 6:8 time there are 6 eighth notes per bar. There are 6 beats per bar but those beats are eight notes instead of quarter notes.
3:2 time is measure is measured in half notes . So each beat lasts the length of a half note. In 3:2 time there are 3 half notes per bar or 3 beats per bar.