Guitar Tablature - a work in progress?

Firstly, I have to mention that I absolutely loved Dorico Pro 2. Working on diverse scores has been so easy and so much fun! Congratulations for Steinberg for developing a music notation software for the 21st century. :slight_smile:

Having said that, I have to say I felt let down when I got my hands on Dorico Pro 3 today and eagerly started a score to notate my transcription of a Josh Smith blues guitar solo. There is no (to my knowledge) reasonable way to notate bends (1/4-, semi-, fulltone, or other) in Dorico Pro 3. Having read the promises about not rolling out the tablature notation before it is “done right”, I feel let down by it’s launch to say the least…

As we know, bending the strings in order to change pitch has been a standard technique of the electric guitar almost since the dawn of it’s evolution and definitely from late 50’s early 60’s onwards. Not to mention a number of other special techniques such as left hand special techniques (pull-off, hammer-on) right hand fretted notes (tapping), pinch harmonics, tremolo bar usage etc…

In this thread I hope that Dorico users familiar with the specifics of guitar tablature notation could share their thoughts on how Steinberg could progress to make the guitar notation in Dorico live up to the high standard of rest of this fantastic software.

Let’s keep contributing to help making Dorico the ultimate notation software for music professionals across the board!!! :slight_smile:

Welcome to the forum, vikkawahl. There is support for bends in Dorico Pro 3: please read pages 21 to 24 in the Dorico 3 Version History.

In my heart I knew it… I feel ashamed for not having read the version history and assuming s*** for myself. :smiley: Very happy that the software keeps living up to it’s stellar standard.

Anyway, since this thread is on tablature specifics maybe see if people have some ideas on how to develop it further.

I didn’t for instance see any mention of right hand fretted notes, known as tapping. That should be relatively easy to do in a future update, I would assume?

You expect tapping to be notated using a little T above the fret number, or is there another convention you’re thinking of?

Yes, that is one very common standard. Also some big publishing houses have used a circle (additionally to the “T” above) around the fret number. Especially in very fast passages (which this technique is frequently used for) it makes it easier to spot the right note for tapping.

The next improvement could be in the slides (fingering) for guitar. Whereas I appreciate the fingering properties (thorough job once again) in music notation, it would be great if Dorico created also a line joining the notes also in tablature. Above the line should stand “sl.” as in short for “slide”.

And a very very important feature for professionals writing guitar transcriptions, is the to be able to write doit bends in fractions of semitones (i.e. 1/4 of a full step). It can be of course notated merely as a doit bend, but guitarists reading tablature are expecting to see a similar upwardpointing curved arrow as with other bends - with the fraction notated with it.

As a matter of fact, this would be my biggest wish in an upcoming update. To my view, being able to notate (in tablature) doit bends is the only significant issue keeping me from producing tablature transcripts in Dorico, that meet the standards of big publishing houses, alongside of course the legato technique called “hammer-on” and “pull-off”. These need to be included in an update! :slight_smile:

I wonder how tablature works in other temperaments? Would switching to 24-TET allow one to use a quarter tone to make a 1/4 bend?

The 1/4 doit bend is also what I’m really hoping for - as basically just a notation of articulation that can be added to any note of any rhythmic value, without having to use grace notes, etc.


Wouldn’t a regular legato slur be enough to cover hammer-on and pull-off? I know I’ve seen H and P above legato slurs before, but they are really redundant, aren’t they?
Tab should automatically put both notes in legato on the same string though…
Slides are different, these need to be covered and translated properly into Tab.


In my opinion for beautiful tablature, the H and P (respectively) above the slur lines are needed. Yes, a skilled guitarist will immediately see which technique to use, but it has been a standard since the first accurate transcripts of these techniques (from the 80’s on, I guess) and furthermore, for publishers producing transcripts it is essential. They know their customers (many of which are not professional guitarists) expect to see this information.

My argument being that - yes, a regular legato slur would be enough to make it readable for an educated guitarist, but why stop there and not develop the tablature notation to meet the industry standard? The work with the bends and pre-bends is already done! We just need the doit bends, slides and this legato technique. And I’m sure people at Steinberg are committed to keep making Dorico the ultimate notation software that it is becoming (honestly, it already is, but I’m just hoping the tablature notation will be extensive)

Actually, you’re right, H and P do provide instant visual clue about what’s about to be played, and have been a part of that particular notation forever.
As usual, it would be fabulous to have engraving options for automatically displaying H and P over slurs!

As for myself, I rarely use Tab, but I would be delighted to use the precise positioning that Tab provides for automatically displaying position markers in regular notation. These could reuse the “7fr.”-style from the chord diagrams, or just Roman numerals.

And finally, since this looks like the official guitar thread, I’d love to use a feature where left hand barre (full or partial) could be indicated, so that a single finger can press several strings at once.
After all, Dorico should be able to notate Smoke on the water properly, right? :slight_smile:

Cheers, Benji

Actually, it looks like that 24-TET trick worked!

EDIT: It seems pre-bends don’t seem to work with this, and in fact, I crashed the program by setting a large interval on a pre-bend of a quarter-tone note.

Awesome! Gonna try that immediately (not the crashing the program, haha)

Although I would still like to see it as an articulation option, without having to use grace notes. maybe just something that you could do fast and easy in the properties panel.

There it is!
Bildschirmfoto 2019-09-07 um 12.48.08.png

I would use the doit bend symbols, for microtonal bends. Go to “ornaments/jazz aticulations”
You can find symbols for tapping under “playing techniques”, scroll down to guitar!
Personally, I don´t want letters (H/P) over slurred notes. And if I did, I can always add text later in engrave mode.
Same thing with slides. A glissando line w/slurr works just fine.

I looked at the demo of Dorico 2 and decided it wasn’t for me. When I got the e flyer about Version 3 and guitar tab I downloaded the demo - Elements because I really don’t need all the bells and whistles of the Pro, and cannot afford it anyway.

Sadly, I think it is still nowhere near Guitar Pro 7.5, (at £50 or so) which I’ve been using for a year. I do take issue with Steinberg’s advertising blurb stating that there’s never been a program that does tab - GP is simply great and has been around for years, constantly improving. And it’s not limited to just fretted instruments.I’ve used it to score for small ensembles with voice & choir.

So, to Dorico’s TAB implementation.Maybe it’s because it’s the cheaper Elements version that it only has 6 string guitar, no Uke, no Banjo etc, then at £99 it’s a no go for me. Very disappointing. Also disappointing that (as far as I can see) there’s no way to enter from the TAB itself. Really fast in GP to score from the fret position rather than having to choose which string and pitch from the score.

Anyway, my 30 day demo will get a few more tries but as there’s also the terrible latency of midi input (even when not in record), just playing the note it’s well over half a second. This isn’t meant to be a knocking post, but sometimes the claims made don’t match the product. I’ve been a Steinberg customer since day one (Pro 16!) and I really like the Engraving quality shown in the demo, but not at the expense of basic scoring features only available for a hefty sum.

I’ll keep an eye on its development (I need Ukes and Banjos!) but in the meantime anyone feel that Dorcico’s fretted instrument scoring is really all there?