Bye bye guitar tabs

There are legal actions being taken against websites that are publishing guitar tablatures or Tabs. As this online column pointed out recently, guitar websites posting tabs are under attack.

For those who are not familiar with tabs, we guitar players learn our songs using tabs. They are like sheet musics. But the big difference here is that instead of reading notes, you follow numbers that pertain to the guitar’s fret. It is a visual way of mapping notes on the guitar’s fretboard.

Apparently, not all artists and publishers are happy with the boom of guitar tabs online. Poynter Institute columnist Al Tompkins writes:

Guitar Tab Universe says National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) as well as the Music Publishers’ Association (MPA) are threatening legal action for copyright violation.

Another big site,, also got such a letter. If this spreads, guitar teachers all over will be in big trouble. Guitar geeks are pretty mad about this. There were warnings that this was coming late last year. Songwriters argue that free tabs cut into sheet-music sales.

This is bad news for us who can’t afford to buy all those tabs. I do buy guitar magazines, but most of them are back issues. Tabs have helped me learn more music in years. I hope music publishers can find more alternative ways to distribute tabs, so people like us in developing countries will have access to it.

Published by

Erwin Oliva

Putting a dent on the universe one day at a time