What are some common ways people take music and create tabs for their respective instruments?

For example If I were to take a musicians rendering of a song (

) what steps would have to be taken to recreate this piece in tablature form? Is there software that can be used to either find the notes being played or other ways to preform this task?

I am interested in trying to recreate many works on the harmonica and I am looking for an efficient work flow to help an amateur create tabs for the pieces.


  • On guitar, generally, someone will attempt to copy what's been played, and tab where they found the notes on their guitar. Can't help with harp tab!
    – Tim
    Oct 29, 2018 at 8:39

1 Answer 1


The exact steps and tools used will most likely vary from one instrument or musician to another, but here are a few tips that I personally use when transcribing bass guitar:

  1. Use sheet music software: It can really help to use software designed for writing music rather than writing the tabs in something like notepad. For guitar and bass, there's Guitar Pro. Such software will usually allow you to write using music notation and play a piece you've transcribed back to you, helping you validate your transcription.
  2. Determine the tempo of the piece using a metronome app: There are tons of metronome applications available for your phone. Most of them will let you tap a button to the rhythm of the music and tell you the tempo of that rhythm. This is usually my first step, after which I will set the tempo of the piece in Guitar Pro.
  3. Slow down the piece and filter out frequencies: Depending on the piece you are transcribing, it may be difficult to hear exactly what is being played. Some software (I personally use Amazing Slow Downer by Roni Music) will allow you to slow down a piece, loop a certain section, and filter out certain frequencies in order to isolate the instrument you are transcribing.
  4. Start transcribing: Use a metronome set to the right tempo, listen to a section of the piece and try to reproduce it on your instrument. When you think you have it down, transcribe it and have it played back to you to make sure you have it right.
  5. Determine the key of the piece: Looking at notes that are in the key will help you find the right notes faster, but beware of key modulations and secondary chords.

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