Never trust any tab you get off the internet (unless it is from me, of course :-p ). All kidding aside, most people really can’t transcribe music very well. They may be able to get the general feel of some of the main riffs, but beyond that there is a lot missing. The most reliable way to learn a song is to transcribe it yourself (assuming you have a good ear). There are software tools like Audacity (see my YouTube vid) that can help you in this task by slowing down the music, changing pitch, filtering, etc. Yes, this can take a long time compared to downloading some tab, but I think it is a very rewarding experience as you will find intricacies of the song that you otherwise would never have heard.
I realize that some people are tone deaf and just can’t match pitches very well. For these people, getting tab is really the only option. I would suggest buying tab books that have been transcribed by professionals, rather than trusting a crappy tab submitted by some kid trying to improve his Ultimate-Guitar contribution score.
Even when it comes to professionally-transcribed tab, it can be wrong sometimes. A perfect example of this is the official “Master of Puppets” tabulature book. I have owned that book for over 10 years, and I could never play the fast solo in the song “Master of Puppets” the way it was written in that book. Then I saw some people playing it on YouTube and I realized that it was MUCH easier to play than the way the book suggests. By watching some of the YouTube videos and adding some of my own flavor, I was able to nail that solo in a few days. So, the point I’m trying to make is that you can never put 100% trust in tab unless it comes from the artist himself. If something doesn’t sound right to you or seems impossible to play, see if you can find someone else playing it a different way, or try to figure it out yourself.
Labeling Music and Musical Elitism
Nothing annoys me more than when people pass judgment on others for their taste in music. It seems to happen quite often in the comments for my videos. If you don’t like a particular band or style of music, then don’t listen to it! What purpose does it serve to start telling everybody how much so-and-so sucks and that so-and-so plays real music? Nobody will think you’re any cooler for doing so, and you will lose my respect and the respect of many others.
On a related note, I can’t stand it when people try to attach style labels to every single band. For example, is Bullet for My Valentine metalcore, screamo, or emo? Who cares?! Let the music stand for itself. I enjoy their music and that’s not going to change no matter how many people tell me that they are “emo”. And speaking of the term emo, I think it is one of the silliest labels used to describe music. At its most fundamental level, “emo” means emotional. Ever since people have started writing music, emotion has been the inspiration for songs. If you don’t feel or show emotion, you’re music is going to suck, plain and simple. There is this attitude among many metalheads that the only “cool” emotions are anger and hate, and that anything else is “soft” or “emo”. To me, such people care more about their image than they do the music. Music, no matter what types of labels you want to use, should not be about image or the way you act and live your life. It should provide aural enjoyment.
Tube Amps vs. Digital Modelers and Emulators
Surprisingly, I haven't engaged in too many arguments with "tube snobs" in my video comments. I can only recall one such argument, but it was enough to really piss me off and motivate me to do some research. This person was claiming that the tone produced by any solid state modeling device (such as my Line 6 POD 2.0 or X3) or emulating plug-in could not come close to that of a real tube amp. He cited this as the reason for my "crappy tone", and went on to claim that no successful professional musician would EVER consider using a modeling amp over a tube amp. He also called me a "poseur" for playing gigs with my Marshall Valvestate 8100 head (a "hybrid" amp that uses a tube preamp section and solid state power section). This person is a shining example of a tube snob, and you will come across many people like this on various guitar forums.
Obviously I have a very different opinion when it comes to the tube amp vs. solid state modeling device debate. I think my POD X3 sounds incredible for direct recording, and once its guitar tones are recorded and blended in with other instrument tracks, I feel strongly that even the biggest of tube snobs would not be able to identify the source of the tones—tube amp or solid state modeling device. However, it is pointless to try to argue with anyone about differences in tonal quality. Maybe the tube snob truly does hear a big difference between a tube amp and the modeling device? Who am I to argue against what that person perceives? So instead I will argue this point: The vast majority of the listening audience does not care whether a musician is using a tube amp or a modeling device, and that is because they cannot perceive the difference. If the listening audience cannot tell the difference between a tube amp or solid state modeler, then why are so many guitarists so quick to bash modelers and the people who use them? Well, there are a number of reasons that come to mind, but to me the behavior exhibited by tube snobs is completely ridiculous. If you prefer the sound of your tube amp over a modeler and you have the extra $500-$1500 to spend, then GOOD FOR YOU! I hold nothing against you. Unfortunately, the reverse doesn't seem to be true. Hmmm, I wonder why that is?
Here are some facts to support my argument that the listening audience cannot perceive the difference:
- The band Crossfade recorded all the guitars for its first album (self-titled) using only a Line 6 Flextone and POD 2.0. (Source: Interview with Ed Sloan, guitarist and frontman). That album sold 1.1 million copies and reached number 41 on the Billboard top 200, and included the hugely successful single "Cold", which reached number 3 on the Billboard Modern Rock charts. Additionally, the songs "So Far Away" and "Colors" reached #4 and #6, respectively (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossfade). It seems to me that hard rock listeners don't really care that the band used cheap Line 6 modeling equipment to record these songs. I think the guitar tones on this album sound just like every other hard rock album out there, the majority of which were recorded using tube amps. But in the end, these guys are just a bunch of poseurs for using modeling equipment, right?
- Other bands who have used or are currently using modelers/emulators in the studio include Nickelback, Danzig, Sixx, Motley Crue, Porcupine Tree, and the Cardigans. These were just some examples I found after 5 minutes of Google searching. There are probably dozens, if not hundreds, more.
- Then there are metal acts Fear Factory (Dino Cazares), Divine Heresy (Dino Cazares), Meshuggah, and Death (Chuck Schuldiner) who have used or are currently using solid state amps / modelers for both live performances and studio recordings. I don't see any of their fans complaining about their "crappy digital tone", do you?
I'm sure I could dig up more, but if any tube snobs need more compelling evidence than this, then I doubt they'll ever change their minds.
So again, if you prefer the sound of a tube amp and have the extra money to spend on one, then that's great! But don't try to tell me that my "crappy modeling gear" is holding me back in some way. I think the evidence speaks for itself.