Getting Your Guitar Tabs and Setting Goals

Guitar Noises #7: May 28, 2021

Guitar Tabs were my first favorite thing to look for online. In those days, downloading anything was super slow, so what else would you be looking for?

When I started building websites it was to share tabs of my favorite bands. I moved onward and upward and started working on what would become guitarnoise.com.

Nowadays YouTube can spin up a video of someone showing you how to strum a song as fast as you can write or say its name. While I can read sheet music better than I used to, I sometimes miss guitar tabs.

If we’re not being too zealous about which method is the best for learning guitar, tablature is still a pretty useful tool. When you’re trying to learn something, anything really, you should try as many different tools as you can until you find out what works for you. Guitar tabs aren't cheating anymore than reading sheet music is, or using a capo. (Don’t know why, but a lot of people ask if using a capo is cheating?)

Since YouTube covers nearly every topic you could imagine, it’s good to find a few favorite teachers or sites to follow. Justin Guitar has been one of the most popular instructor sites for going on twenty years. The site was redesigned recently, which I mentioned in a previous newsletter.

This month Justin added something pretty cool to his site that I thought it was worth sharing. After reaching a deal with publishers, Justin has added guitar tabs and chords to go with most of his lessons. This was one of the most requested features on Justin Guitar since the beginning.

In addition to all the great lessons, there is now an archive of more than 600 accurate tabs with chords and lyrics. They are all approved by Justin for accuracy. In some cases, Justin will even be fixing up the transcriptions that come from the publisher if they’re too accurate or complicated.

Justin has put up a video and FAQ explaining everything, including a list of all the songs with tab.

Getting the tabs is a paid product. The publishers and songwriters will be getting paid from your subscription - so sorry, no free tabs. You can check everything out with a 7 day free trial. There aren’t any affiliate links or kickbacks here. I’m just spreading the word because I think it’s worth paying for if you follow Justin’s lessons.

Something that isn’t widely known is that guitar tabs are covered by different publishing rules and managing organizations than when songs are used in video lessons. That’s why Guitar Noise has some guitar tabs but doesn’t have video lessons. Our copyright deal is with the print publisher and we pay royalties for their use.

Setting Your Goals for Guitar

There has been a thread running through the past few newsletters. Last month, I talked about the importance of stretching and warming up before playing guitar. Then in the last newsletter, I discussed how much time you should spend practicing every day. These two topics are important for becoming a better player because they help you meet your goals.

Creating goals is crucial for improving as a guitar player. You need to know where you are going so you can make a plan for getting there. If you think planning your future will stifle your creativity, you should consider that all of your favorite guitarists probably got where they are because they set goals. Eric Clapton wanted to make music like Freddie King. Jimmy Page wanted to produce records. Django Reinhardt didn’t let any obstacles prevent him from developing his own style of playing guitar.

With your own  goals you can get better at guitar faster than you would without any goals. The more specific you make your goals the easier it is to measure how quickly you’re getting there.

Defining and redefining our goals as we progress can help us continue feeling good about playing our instrument. The idea is we aren’t judging how well we play guitar. Judgments are opinionated and usually carry some negative weight. We are evaluating our ability at any given point. Evaluations are objective ideas rather than subjective feelings. They allow us more freedom of choice about where to go next. If we are evaluating, we are thinking about things, and not necessarily making decisions that set things in stone.

Just as people change over time, so do our opinions of ourselves and our abilities. Be kind to yourself and others, and give some careful thought to what your goals might be.

Feel free to share your ideas on this topic with me. I always love hearing from musicians and students of life.