Electric Guitar TAB

Hi All

I’ve posted a few questions about using Dorico for electric guitar tab over the last year and I thought it would be useful to summarize what I’ve learned - to hopefully get the benefit of other electric guitar Dorico users as well as the experience of the seasoned users on this forum.

Attached are some snips from Mel Bay’s Classic Blues Licks for Electric Guitar. I chose this book at random as an example of something that covers some of the questions I’ve raised but also is at a beginner level so would definitely fit in the 80% part of an 80/20 solution for scoring electric guitar parts.

The snips attached are:

  1. The basic TAB guide given in the book - this is a far shorter summary than the TAB guides seen in more advanced books, of course
  2. Two lines that I’d like to reproduce in Dorico, taken from the first and most basic chapter of the book

When I’m trying to reproduce these in Dorico I’m coming at it from three angles:

  1. To attempt to imitate the original score (or an equally clear equivalent alternative)
  2. Ideally to enter the playing techniques in a way that will be compatible with future Dorico functionality of being able to play the TAB back
  3. To maintain consistency with other symbols and standard Dorico representations of guitar techniques

In other words, I’d first like to be able to reproduce graphically what is on the page, but I’d prefer to do it in a way that Dorico understands so that when the playback functionality is introduced in a future version, the TAB can be accurately played.

The key features that the two snippets include are:

  1. Stand alone bends, including quarter tone ‘blues bends’
  2. Slide in lines - coming from no defined note but understood to mean from a few frets down
  3. Extended wavy lines indicating a tremolo effect
  4. Notes starting from a prebend

I’d be very grateful for the advice of experienced Dorico users in reproducing these two passages. And I appreciate that the guitar features are still under development so some of these may require temporary workarounds or not yet be possible, but I hope would become standard features in future versions.

Many thanks,

Hi - I’ve had a shot at reproducing the two example lines - please see my attachment below.

A few immediate comments:

  • I’ve used rehearsal marks for the lick numbers - is there any way to have them all aligned horizontally?
  • The pre-bend and bend release worked well in the final bar
  • The note entry system for tab is very slick and easy to use
  • I’ve re-purposed the Tremblement ornament from Baroque and Classical for the vibrato lines - just about got away with them here but in the past have had to resort to creating a custom ornament stitching two together - would it be possible to have an extendable guitar ornament for this purpose that can be dragged out to the appropriate length?
  • I’ve used the jazz ornament lift for the pre-slide notes with no originator notes --> this looks okay but to really get the angle would need to edit from Engrave each time and then hard to keep consistent - would it be possible to have this as a supported feature for guitar?
  • The use of glissandi for slides and slurs for hammer-ons works okay
  • The biggest issue is the quarter bends - I’ve used a jazz doit bend with a text label here - but the text doesn’t appear on the TAB as well (where it’s most needed) - is it possible to make it appear in both places? And of course, being a text label it would never be able to be played back correctly by the software. The alternative solution of using 24-EDO and adding a grace note seems too cumbersome. I’ve seen so many examples of single note bends of all interval varieties (with no attached note, just the interval marked) that this is the item at the very top of my wishlist for future releases. And quarter bends are so common in blues that it would be really great to have a fully supported solution for this as well.

Any comments or suggestions where I’ve missed obvious features much appreciated.

Sorry this is such a wordy post, but I hope it can help as a reference for myself and other guitarists in the future.

You can specify the default distance above the staff for rehearsal marks on the Rehearsal Marks page of Engraving Options.

For quarter-tone bends, if you use the ‘Equal temperament (24-EDO)’ tonality system, you should be able to create a bend between two notes a quarter-tone apart, and they’ll then appear with the appropriate interval in the tablature.

Thanks Daniel

This example has proved to me that I can represent most basic TAB on the page. It will make a huge difference when Dorico can play back TAB so that the bends etc play at the correct pitches - but this will also require the software to understand the no-anchor slide-in lines, vibrato markings etc to be able to play them correctly (which may mean they would be better introduced as specific guitar ornaments).

I have experimented with the 24-EDO tonality system before for quarter-tone bends and it does work. But I hope you’ll agree that microtonal accidentals aren’t appropriate for a basic blues score so this can only be a workaround, and that the single note bend is unavoidable for this effect (as well as being very widely used and useful as an alternative concise notation for other bends).

Hi - I experimented with the options in the Rehearsal Marks page of Engraving Options but couldn’t see anything to align them horizontally. Did I miss it?

Instead, I aligned them horizontally by hand - even using Alt and arrow keys, this was quite tricky - are there any plans for a snap-to-grid function to be added in future releases? I saw it was requested here https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=246&t=131452&p=950548&hilit=snap#p950548

It would make tasks like this much easier and would be extremely helpful when creating templates etc?

My tablature is starting to look more like the original examples now.

You should set them to be further away from the staff by default, under Vertical Position.