I take great pride in preparing my tabs; making sure they’re right and that they’re as playable and readable as possible.
The analysis and the deep dives are nerdy catnip for me.
Every tab I create I try to be as accurate to what was played on the record as possible.
Sadly, due to the quality of the mixing on the track, sometimes I have to guess, apply a “what I might do” approach or simple mirror what I can hear in the rhythm guitar parts.
Where it’s possible to get hold of the original isolated studio track, believe me, I will be using that!
Fortunately, in recent times, a treasure trove of them have appeared online.
This is great for me in terms of transcribing but it’s much more than that; as musicians we can become obsessed with a player and their techniques and tricks and these isolated tracks really allow us to appreciate exactly what they did in the studio that day to get that incredible moment.
Putting the right notes in the right places is of vital importance.
Many of the classic tab books of old (and many a modern tab too) are transcribed by guitarists or keyboard players.
It makes sense that keyboard players transcribe a lot; they generally have a more thorough and deeper knowledge of music theory and that allows them to quickly deduce the notes, keys, chords, modes, rhythms etc in a piece and get it written down.
In terms of guitarists transcribing bass I assume they just think, “Well, it’s just a big guitar only lower…” and away they go!
But knowing the notes is half the battle.
If you’ve got all the right notes but you’re marked them down in frankly impossible or contextually implausible places on the tab then they’re kind of useless to the musicians who want to use them…
With the advent of YouTube and other video platforms, video of bands and musicians actually playing the riffs is available more and more often these days.
Combining the master track (if it’s available) with footage of the artist playing it live, I use these tools to create the most “as it was played” tabs I can.
Making them available
This is the hard part.
Music publishing is a labyrinth of rights holders inside other rights holders and so on and so on down into the dark and murky depths of ancient musical history.
I’ve acquired the details for the rights managers for a large number of artists and their catalogues and in the fullness of time I’ll be reaching out to them to try and secure a license to make my tabs available to you.
Like you, I love music; I love the artists whose works have enriched my life and yours, been there in the good times and the bad, and beyond buying their work and seeing them live I want to celebrate them and give back to them in my way, one musician to another.
I will keep everyone updated with my progress on this. I expect it to be a bit of a struggle to get the rights, especially from some of the biggest acts whose work I want to sell.
I will persevere!
In the meantime, may the riff be with you, always.
(Bonus points if you know what the tab in the hero image is!)