Guitar Tabs - The Dark Side
The OTHER part of tabs that most guitarists don't tell you about - or don't know!
I know what you're thinking. I do.
You want to slap me across the face. You want me to hurt for even suggesting that tabs have a dark side. Those sacred, blessed things that are tabs. Perfection in form, right?
How can something so good be bad?
Right? Well before you get all steamed about me, your humble writer and guide, just hear me out.
Tabs are great. You know that. Heck, I taught you that here. I know how great tabs can be. They're like cliffnotes -- and when you get to the Shakespeare level of playing guitar, it's great to have cliff notes to read instead of that mumbo-jumbo.
I get it. Believe me, I do. I get it because I was there too. Picked up my guitar, learned a few chords and then started downloading tabs for every song I could think of. Every song I'd heard. Every song I thought my dog might like to hear me practice.
I got loaded up on riffs. I could play the first few lines of songs for hours. Actually learned a few songs too. But something was wrong -- and that something, dear friend, is the dark side.
Duh, duh, dum.
What Goes On Behind The Curtain
Here's the dirty secret with tabs. Well, actually it's not even a secret. Tabs are shortcuts. That's all they are. Players didn't want to have to learn musical language, so they created their own language.
Tabs are simplified, dumbed down and altogether made as easy as possible. And that's great if you don't want to be a real guitarist. It's great, even, if you don't want to really learn how to play your guitar.
Maybe you just want to know a lick or two -- fine. Go with tabs. If you can be happy playing the same thing over and over into your old age then tabs'll do. The point is -- they'll get you somewhere.
But, shortcuts only get you so far. Tabs just CAN'T give you the background you'll want to gather while you learn how to play guitar. They give you a gloss -- that's for sure -- but if you're serious about learning guitar you'll want the complete package.
There are plenty of metaphors to use -- but I like this one. Pretend you're putting on a play, a theater production, of any sort. Tabs can be the script notes. What the audience sees. In other words, what goes on in front of the curtain.
But there's a whole world of things going on behind the curtain. The lights, the stage hands, the set builders. All of that. Well all those things -- what goes on behind the curtain -- that's what you need to metaphorically have to be a good guitar player. The details, the support system -- that kind of stuff -- you just can't get from simply using tabs.
StringNinja To The Rescue!
This is literally the exact reason we created StringNinja. Too many guitarists have started a learning process only to drop it and start downloading tabs and just playing those. This is particularly true for those trying to self-teach themselves guitar.
But they weren't learning anything, just practicing with tabs. They had no depth - nothing going on behind the curtain. And that's what is really going to make all the difference moving forward.
StringNinja is going to break down, day by day, how to build your depth as a guitar player. It will teach you all the things tabs can teach you, and much more. It's the perfect chance to get things moving behind the curtain, to be a REAL guitar player - and do it quickly and efficiently.
Try it this way: who's your favorite guitarist? Mine's this guy. Look him up - he absolutely rocks. And I'm sure your favorite guitarist does too.
When your favorite guitarist, or mine, starts to think of new songs, do you he/she just starts writing down tabs. They might write tabs out eventually, sure - but the thought process is in the head. It's not on a piece of paper or a downloadable .pdf, it's in the brain of the actual guitarist.
It's because he, or she, actually knows HOW to play guitar. These people, these rock gods, they don't need tabs. They actually know the instrument.
That's what we mean by the dark side of tabs. You're learning how to play tabs - which can be fine. But you're not actually learning how to play guitar in a substantial enough way to get you to be a rock god.
So there you have it. The dark side (insert gloomy music here!).
NOW, before I go I want to say one more thing. Tabs are not completely evil. In fact, the "dark side" disappears once you nail down guitar fundamentals. You'll WANT to use tabs, you just want to make sure you get other things down first. To make sure you really know how to play. Then use tabs.
For instance, we also developed ZenTabs to be used after StringNinja. It will show you to effectively use tabs. To make them go further than you ever thought they could. But only after StringNinja teaches you how to play guitar FOR REAL.
So, know the dark side while you're still a beginner. We've created StringNinja to help you - but if you don't think it's right for you YET, check out our Quickstart Guide To Playing Guitar and we'll show you more about how to use tabs effectively.