Tips on Tabbing
Compiled by mmolino54
1) Choose a Song to Tab
The sheer volume of untabbed songs can be daunting when starting out, but
save yourself some time and make sure the song you want to tab really is
yet to be tabbed. Doing a quick search on harptabs.com and on google.com
should cover the bases (try some alternative spellings or search by
author/writer/band just to make sure). You can always offer an alternative
of an already tabbed song, but most of the fun comes from tabbing something
new. You don't have to tab the whole song either;you can do the melody, a
solo, the intro, a riff, etc. Choose something you like or fulfill one of
the requests on harptabs.com. Keep in mind your skill level and the
difficulty of the song (too simple, and you'll be bored; too complicated,
and you'll just frustrate yourself).
2) Tab from the Best Source You Can
Try and get access to the best version of the song you can. What form is
the song in: LP, CD, midi, sheet music, in your head, etc? Repeated
listening to the song will help when you tab it. There are three basic
approaches: a) You tab the song by ear (or "sound it out"); b) you
translate a copy (software such as harpingmidi will convert midis and other
electronic files to tab for you; tab rulers on this site should help you
tab from sheet music by hand); or, c) you do a combination of the two
previous approaches. Many songs can be found free online in various audio
formats, in tablature for other instruments, or in sheet music form. You
can purchase a copy or you may be able to get free versions (CDs or sheet
music) at a public library.
3) Use Consistent Tabbing Notation
Below is a widely used notation system for tabbing. (When using a different
approach than this, include an explanatory note or legend with your song
+ = blow note
- = draw note
b or ' = halfstep bend
bb or '' = two halfstep bend
bbb or ''' = three halfstep bends
(###) = chords (relevant hole numbers placed within parentheses)
< = means push the button in (for chromatic harmonica tabs)
Example: On a C harp, there are 4 draw notes on hole 3 (-3=B, -3'=Bb,
4) Put Tab in Electronic Format
To allow for even spacing, format your tab using a monospace font (e.g.,
Courier) and use the space bar to align the tab (and lyrics if
applicable;most song lyrics can be found online and easily copy and
pasted). It is better to type/prepare the tab in a text program (Notepad,
MS Word, etc.) instead of directly into the tab submission form first.
5) Test Tab
Take a look at your tab and try playing it yourself. Does it sound right?
Maybe even see if you can play along to the original. Make any
corrections/changes you want.
6) Post Tab
Click on the "Add a Tab" selection, copy and paste your tab into the
submission box. Add any notes or comments you want. Then fill out as many
details as you can:
The more complete and accurate this information is, the easier it will be
for others to find and make the most out of all the time and effort you put
into your tab. Look over everything once to make sure you've typed/selected
correctly and then hit "Submit".
Sit back and admire your great work. (If you see any mistakes, you can edit
the song any time you like.)
Thanks for contributing!
- Use the most common full names and spellings you can (e.g., The
Rolling Stones instead of just The Stones).
- Type the song title into the "Song:" box
- Type in the composer/singer/band for the "By:" box (leave blank if you
do not know)
- From the pulldown menus
- Select the appropriate harp key
- Select the type of harp you tabbed for
- Select the most appropriate genre
- Link to a midi version of the song by pasting the URL into the "Midi:"
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