As an amateur guitar player in this day and age one can find all sorts of materials and “tools” to employ in the quest to becoming the next Jimi Hendrix or the next Jimmy Page. One of the most widespread of these tools is of course, every beginner’s go to solution, the guitar tab. Guitar tabs, although known to be the tool that is used mostly by beginners prove hard to decipher even by the most proficient guitarists.
What guitar tabs, or tablatures, are is basically a form of musical notation that is based on the instrument’s fingering (the position in which the player’s finger or fingers need to be, on the fretboard in this case, in order for the instrument to generate a note). Guitar tabs are represented by 6 lines that represent each string on the neck of the guitar, and each of the frets on the guitar neck is represented by a number from 0 to 22 (or 24 in some cases). So, say that on the bottom line from a tab we have the number 1. That means you have to play the first fret of the bottom E, which is an F.
Obviously, learning to play the guitar by using tablature has it constraints. But that is where Guitar Pro jumps in. Guitar Pro, first designed as a simple little program that read and wrote tabs, and that is know a full-fledged mixing studio that awaits artists on their PCs, and as of 2011, on their IPods Touch, IPhones and IPads. The newest version of Guitar Pro is the Guitar Pro 6, which lets you write complete scores using a vast array of instruments beyond the acoustic or electric guitar. In addition to that, this software also has synthesized sounds that match up pretty close to their real life counterparts which means that you can also listen to your tune once it is written, or once you have downloaded it.
As a guitar player that first discovers this software, be it by downloading a free trial or purchasing the full version, you encounter its seemingly overwhelming interface. Guitar Pro’s user interface may seem overwhelming at first, with its multitude of buttons and sliders but once you take a closer look, you will actually find it as being rather intuitive, even if you haven’t had the chance to work with older, more “primitive” versions. On the left of the screen we have 6 panels that have their own set of options that we can manipulate. These 6 panels are: The Edition Panel, The Instrument Panel, The Effects Panel, The Mastering Panel, The Chords Panel and the Lyrics Panel.
To further expand on that, The Edition Panel allows you to access the options that help you write the tab or the sheet music you desire (from turning a half note into a sixteenth note or signaling a hammer-on or a pull-off), The Instrument Panel allows you to choose your instrument and its tuning, The Effects Panel lets you choose from a vast array of effect pedals, amps and cabinets, The Mastering Panel lets you mix the tracks that you have, The Chords Panel lets you create a chord diagram and the Lyrics Panel lets you sync lyrics to the song. The main part of the interface displays the actual tab with the sheet music that goes along. This is a great way for beginners to start learning how to read and write sheet music with the help of tabs. The bottom half of the interface displays the tracks and their presence throughout the tab. So that is the interface in a few words.
How to use this program? It’s simple, you either create your own tracks along with their tabs or you can download the millions of tabs that are out there. And I mean it, there are virtually millions of tabs out there on the internet, tabs that are created by guitar players all over the world. There are dozens of sites dedicated to housing tabs from your favorite bands that await you. You can download them all and not only read them with guitar pro, but you can actually play along with them, as Guitar Pro 6 actually gives you a good rendition once you hit the play button. And with that in mind, you guitar players out there have no excuse for not giving this wonderful piece of software a try.