TAB On The Rocks?

Coke or Pepsi? TAB or … TAB Diet? The debate surrounding tablature is nothing new to Bass Player; we’ve been debating it on staff, with columnists, and with readers for years.

Coke or Pepsi? TAB or … TAB Diet? The debate surrounding tablature is nothing new to Bass Player; we’ve been debating it on staff, with columnists, and with readers for years. So when I posted a comment about it on our Facebook page last month, I was somewhat surprised that it continues to be a hot topic. The question, shown below in Court of Opinion, was whether it would be worth ditching in our monthly Transcription to create space in the mag for other instructional content. I invite you to read some of the responses.

I myself am somewhat ambivalent about TAB. Naturally, it can be a great thing for players new to bass who want to learn a few of their favorite licks. And the technical information it conveys (i.e. fingering) isn’t as elegantly shown in traditional staff notation. But as a player, I find it a terrible temptation to be a lazy reader. Why think when I can just play? Perhaps my post was just a selfish attempt to turn one of my favorite parts of the magazine into a personal challenge to improve my own reading skills. I’ll cop to that. But can you blame me? After all, Bass Player has always been all about digging deeper and getting better as players. And, to borrow the famous Hair Club For Men commercial, I’m not only the Bass Player editor, but I’m also a reader.

I accept—and embrace—that our readers span from rank beginners to technical experts, and I don’t want to do anything to alienate those for whom notation is an indecipherable jumble of dots and lines. But are those people really going to slog through songs like “Cruise Missile,” “Iambic 5 Poetry,” or any other of the truly gnarly tunes we occasionally transcribe? That was the root of my query.

This month, I went out on a limb and asked John Goldsby to transcribe an amazing live performance of Ray Brown and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen with the Oscar Peterson Trio. Without TAB. Consider it a bone thrown to those who loathe TAB and wish it would go away forever. Enjoy it while you can, because TAB isn’t going anywhere, and will return in next month’s transcription. For those who only read TAB, there’s still good stuff for you in the features and Woodshed. As for the TAB-free Transcription, think of it as a friendly invitation to up your game. It’s an invite I send myself every day.


The Cribs' Gary Jarman On Melodic Punk Rock

LAST YEAR WAS A BUSY ONE FOR Cribs frontman Gary Jarman; his melodic post-punk brood with brothers Ryan and Ross released its fourth album (featuring “newbie” bandmate Johnny Marr on guitar), he married his girlfriend Joanna Bolme (bassist for Quasi and Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks), and he went under the knife for a surgery on his vocal chords. Yet judging from his band’s demanding tour schedule, the Yorkshire native (and Portland resident) shows no signs of slowing. On a recent stop in San Francisco, Gary took a few minutes to talk punk rock, warming up, and the joy of a well-crafted countermelody.

Jonathan Corley : On Melodic Maneuvering

THERE’S A LOT MORE TO GEORGIA than peaches and crunk; The college town of Athens has birthed its fair share of rock royalty (REM, the B-52s), and now the capital city of Atlanta has become a hot spot for up-and-coming indie bands. Leading the charge, Manchester Orchestra tempers its post-adolescent aggression with melodic hooks borrowed from the British Invasion. On bass, Jonathan Crowley links singersongwriter Andy Hull’s tuneful excursions with drummer Jeremiah Edmond’s youthful bombast, carving a cavernous pocket speckled with melodic gems. The band plans to tour through the new year in support of its latest, Mean Everything to Nothing.

Dave Dreiwitz : On Taking It To The Stage

WHICH ONE’S PINK? WHO’S THE BASS player in Ween? Such questions have multiple answers. Guitarist and singer Mickey Melchiondo, AKA Dean Ween, plays plenty of bass on the recordings. Singer/guitarist Aaron Freeman, AKA Gene Ween, does too. In addition, producer and former Rollins Band bassist Andrew Weiss usually plays a bit on each record. Since 1997, Dave Dreiwitz has been Ween’s bassman whenever the wackedout alt-rock outfit attacks the stage. He usually plays a cut or three in the studio, as well.

Young Dubliners Brendan Holmes On Crafting Melodic Celtic Rock

WITH YOUNG DUBLINERS, BRENDAN Holmes has released eight studio albums and toured the world alongside such acts as Jethro Tull and Chris Isaak. More than 16 years after teaming up with singer Keith Roberts in their adopted home of Los Angeles, the Brendan and the Dubliners are busier than ever, averaging 250 shows a year. A self-taught player with a driving style, Holmes co-wrote the band’s latest single, “Rosie,” as well as the fiery instrumental, “Saoirse,” which features a guest appearance by guitarist Kenny Wayne Sheppard.