The "right" time to learn tabs?

Hello all -

I am a newbie to everything bass. I have started the course, and moving slowly thru it…Mainly due to my work schedule. In any event, like most people I watch “how to video’s” with accompanying tabs. My question: Is it ok to play around with bass line tabs, without the knowing the basics ?

Or am I doing more harm by “jumping” into that ?

Thanks !!!


There is no problem with learning tabs right away. They are just a way to communicate music and what to play. They are also very simple and fast to learn; I see no harm in spending the 15 minutes it takes to fully grasp them, regardless of where you are.


It’s absolutely ok, learning tabs takes very little time and you’ll get a lot from it, early on it’s a good time to learn it, specially if you want to play other people’s songs


Go right ahead. Tabs will put a lot of music in your reach. No harm in learning them that I can see.


I would suggest - never be afraid to try something out.
You will sort out if it is too hard for your abilities at that moment.
If it is too hard, write it down on a list and come back to it later.
One of the best feelings is coming back to something and kicking its butt.

Tabs can be learned ‘fresh out of the box’.
Find easy songs. If something seems to hard, find an even easier one.
Constantine on YouTube has over 1600 completed of all skill levels, you are sure to find something to work with.
If tab seems to hard, do not be discouraged, find an easier one.


Go for it. For my play along with video tab sessions I like Harry the best. Of course Songsterr and Yousician are good for a more interactive version if you don’t care about the video. Rocksmith Plus is coming next year which will have tab as well.


You can never do harm by accelerating your learning. Tablature is a great way to be able to actually make music with your bass (or guitar) while learning it. Once you’ve mastered the instrument and know where all the notes are on the neck, you can move on to reading standard notation and playing from that.
Good for you for your enthusiasm. I say go for it!


Pretty much every major guitar/bass system out there uses tabs right from the start. It’s the written version of your teacher telling you where to put your fingers so there’s really no other way to communicate “the basics” to someone, of how to play when they’re not familiar with the instrument. Even once you people are familiar with the instrument, tabs are very useful to communicate exactly where notes were played by a musician in an original version.

I will suggest that when you’re playing something, start out slow enough that you can play through it without (many) mistakes; when you can play through several times in a row cleanly, increase your speed. You don’t want to increase your speed at the cost of practicing your mistakes… never practice your mistakes, it will take much longer to learn something cleanly.

Pay attention to the rhythm/timing, make sure you are using good left/right hand technique and muting notes. If you work on good muting right from the start, it’ll be a lot easier and less frustrating than trying to clean that up later.

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Good advice.

I’d also suggest finding good tabs. The best source I know online is Songsterr - their tabs sometimes have mistakes but are good more often than other sites, and contain rhythm notated similar to sheet music, which is extremely useful.

Ultimate Guitar Pro tabs are pretty good too. However Ultimate Guitar free tabs are often garbage.

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