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If you're wondering about the difference between tablature and transcription, tabs show you where to place your fingers in order to play the notes of the tune, which are what's transcribed when someone works on a specific song, and writes out the music for that tune, including and especially instrumental solos. In other words, transcribers write the notes, time signature, musical directions, and everything else needed for a musician to play the piece. Tabbers write the shorthand allowing guitarists who can't read the transcriptionists' charts to play the music, too. There's no doubt that the development of tablature was a major step forward in involving greater number of guitarists in reproducing music.

I do not put down tabs - don't misread me - as a quite mediocre reader myself, without much interest in investing the time to get better, I use tabs when necessary. But for those who are fluent readers, transcriptions are virtually always preferred. The sites collected here are sources of transcriptions; nevertheless, none of them costs a thing! This is not something I expected at first, because transcription is tedious and usually not cheap!

Sources of Transcriptions
Site
Description

Every month I add new information about the best of the classic guitarists and their music from the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s. Studying the work of these guitarists has greatly enriched my understanding of jazz guitar and jazz in general. I hope you find it useful too!

Adler's a guitarist himself, and many of the transcriptions are of his music. However, there are also transcriptions of others' music, including Joe Pass and Joe Farrell.
Free Solo Transcriptions "Download solo transcriptions from jazz to pop for free! Share your own transcription with other musicians, work on your musical abilities and learn from the masters by playing their solos." Currently, there are 330 pages of transcriptions; most are one page long.
One of the greatest jazz sites on the web - contains so much educational information, you can't grasp it all at first. Lots of free downloads, a great newsletter, and a guy who'll write back to you!
"Here you'll find a collection of transcribed jazz guitar solos. Some transcriptions are written in standard notation, some in both guitar tablature and note script. Don't just copy the solos, but use them to discover the way the musician in question thinks."
Jazz Transcriptions 1 "The purpose of this site is to collect together all those lovely transcribed solos that are floating around the web, but desperately need to be harnessed in one place."
"This list was created and is maintained by Alisdair MacRae Birch." It also includes articles on how to transcribe music and links to tools on the internet that are useful to transcribers.
From the Univ. of S. Carolina's School of Music, "Here is a small collection of jazz transcriptions. If you have questions or comments, feel free to contact me. - Bert Ligon [a GREAT jazz educator!].
"Although future projects of my own will certainly include many more of the above artists (plus a few non-guitarists), I am currently focusing primarily on tunes listed at Vision Music’s Jam Central Station."
OBM Jazz Olivier Boyer-Masutti is a very talented jazz guitarist from Montreal who fronts a trio doing classical jazz. The "transcriptions" page is one of his many useful pages, and is full of accurate, free charts.
Transcriptions by Petri Krzywacki Petri Krzywacki is a Finnish jazz guitarist and teacher who has transcribed many jazz tunes, several by guitarists like Kenny Burrell, John Scofield, Tal Farlow, and others.
Steve's not only a great transcriber; he also provides expert musical analysis of the 123 transcriptions(!) on this site; guitarists with transcribed solos include Wes Montgomery, Jim Jall, Pat Martino, etc.
"Jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery influenced guitarists over the world with his extensive use of octaves. Here is Wes Montgomery guitar tablature and transcriptions to study and learn from."
Transcription Software
Site Description
starstarstar Transcription Resources (Seventh String) A huge listing of software available on the Internet to aid transcribers. Below, I highlight a few with which I have personal experience; this list doesn't leave out a single site.
GoldWave "a highly rated, professional digital audio editor. It's fully loaded to do everything from the simplest recording and editing to the most sophisticated audio processing, restoration, enhancements, and conversions."
Guitar & Drum Trainer "the ultimate musician's tool to practice, learn new songs, transcribe and improve your playing. Works for piano, keyboards, bass, guitar, drums, or any instrument (including triangle and cowbell)."
Guitar Shed "a fully-integrated set of software tools for the guitarist (and other musicians). Its tools include two separate tuners (Chromatic and Tonal), tablature organizer, chord library, web manager, gig manager, jam machine, and song jam modules." And, it's only $18!
GuitarMaster "the ultimate low-cost transcription and notation software for the electric guitarist, producing guitar tablature (tab) and MIDI files directly from the audio signal generated by your guitar. Just plug in and play!" The ability to write tab directly from a guitar is amazing and unique at the price!
Seventh String The home site for "Transcribe!", one of the most popular software packages for those transcribing music of any style for any instrument. Also features excellent documentation.

 

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