Is MS 'smart' about how to notate guitar TAB clefts?

• Aug 28, 2022 - 08:53

This Q: applies to 6-string classical guitar (CG). I want to learn how to write for CG, but am oblivious to TAB. In the brief experiment score, two things concern me.

1) if the numbers in the TAB clef represent fret locations, in measure 3 beat 3, I don't know if a guitarist can have fingers on the 16th fret as well as the 3rd fret - isn't that span impossible?

2) in measure 4, the E-sharp (treble clef) appears to be represented by a double-slash on the note stem in TAB, but I don't understand that TAB construction for accidentals. I would have taken the double-slashes to be tremolos, but in TAB, they must mean sharp (or flat) ?

Given the subject of this thread about MS being 'smart' for TAB notation, did MS choose the fret locations WITH or WITHOUT concern about distance between frets, meaning, does MS take into account what is physically possible for the player?


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Fret 3 and 16 is way too big a span. Maybe you can move fret 16 to a higher string to get the same pitch. Frey 3 to 6 is manageable; 3 to 7 is a tricky stretch unless you have long fingers.

The double slash stem is from the TAB style settings for a half note. You can change this on the advanced style settings. See… and look for half notes.

There are no sharp or flat symbols in TAB as they are not needed since each fret on a string is a single semitone step.

In reply to by yonah_ag

For me, I'd just move / re-position that chord like I did in the attached screenshot.
It's a real easy fingering right there ... BUT ... I didn't play through the part before and after so I don't know how it would feel in context.

I don't find MS or Sibelius very smart when it comes to tab positions but I suspect it does try to make it playable IF it actually is playable.
I'm always having to change strings in the TAB to make it fit my choices for fingerings but it's real easy to just drag them up and down.

I'm guessing you're not a guitar player?
It might be a good idea for you to buy an inexpensive classical guitar so you can experience the hands on of it.
For me, writing for guitar always starts with the guitar in my hands.

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I much appreciate your comments, and and any hands-on you might have taken time to do...

As it happens, I've played E. bass since the early '70s, but never EVER had to (or wanted to) deal with TAB. Lead sheets or bass cleff was my way to go. And packed away, I have a Line6 Variax Strat which I could use.

Until now, I didn't know if any notation software would have good fingering translation, to produce an optimum layout on the fretboard. Now I know it will take lots of consideration as to play-ability.

A similar situation appears for my numerous compositions where orchestral strings are used. I rarely put in bowing marks, pretty much using only arco. and pizz.

Thanks again you guys!

In reply to by Are Jayem

A classical guitar has a much wider neck than your strat and this also increases the difficulty of stretches. You can pick up a full size classical guitar on Amazon for ridiculously low prices.

I can't comment on MS being smart with TAB as I don't use standard notation at all so my TABS are optimised using my guitar in hand.

To produce better TAB fret configurations for chords...
Entering chords onto a linked treble clef staff starting from the highest sounding note often produces better fingering results on the linked TAB staff.
If one finds using the keyboard for top - down chord note entry into the treble clef staff too cumbersome (for having to adjust octaves), simply click on the treble clef from top to bottom and place the notes onto the treble clef staff using the mouse. The TAB fingerings will appear in a 'smarter' configuration.
Try it on those chords of yours.

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