David Ziegele -- Fingerstyle Guitar
David Ziegele -- Fingerstyle Guitar
Below are some guitar transcriptions I've done over the years. If you're new to reading tab, you might find it useful to read this guide to reading tablature. The document, like many of the tabs below, is in .pdf format, which requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, available at the Adobe website.
To check out sample transcriptions, scroll down the page or click on one of these links:
Craig Ventresco -- Sensation Rag (Sections
The Band -- Rockin' Chair (chords & guitar fills only)
Joseph Spence -- All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
Ry Cooder -- Flashes, FDR in Trinidad, and Great Dream From Heaven
Fret Killer -- When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful (excerpt)
Carter Family -- I Loved You Better Than You Knew
David Grier -- Whistling Rufus and Bill Cheatum
Wayne Henderson -- Wildwood Flower
Geoff Muldaur -- I Can't See Your Face Anymore
Stephen Stills -- So Begins the Task
Bryan Sutton/Mark O'Connor -- Picking in the Wind
Norman Blake -- Lost Indian
David Ziegele -- Arkansas Traveler and Miss the Mississippi and You
E.C. Ball -- Chow Time
This is the first two sections of Craig Ventresco's arrangement of Joseph Lamb's "Sensation Rag." Click on the little guitar to hear a soundclip of the tune
Sensation Rag (Sections 1 &2) -- pdf format
These are the chord fingerings and guitar fills for the song "Rockin' Chair" by The Band. Rather than put in the strumming patterns for each chord, I provided only the chord charts and the tab for the chord fingerings. I also transcribed the acoustic guitar intro and the fills that Robbie Robertson played (along with Levon Helm on mandolin) after each chorus and at the song's end.
Rockin' Chair chords and fills -- pdf format
Here's my transcription of Joseph Spence's recording of the hymn "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," as recorded on his CD Glory. As with all of the tunes I've heard Spence play on record, it's in Drop D tuning and played in the key of D. Unlike most of Spence's arrangements, this one has numerous chord changes, sometimes one new chord per beat, and even includes a diminished chord. Click on the little guitar to hear an excerpt from Spence's performance: . Even better, buy the CD or download the tune from iTunes!
This seems to be one of Ry Cooder's favorite Spence tunes. It shows up on at least two bootleg recordings of Cooder solo acoustic concerts from the mid-70's. Click on the guitar to hear an excerpt from one of them: .
All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name tab -- pdf format
This is my transcription of Ry Cooder's performance of the Bix Beiderbecke piano composition "Flashes" from Cooder's recording Jazz. I think this is one of the best solo jazz guitar pieces ever, though I have no way of knowing if it captured what Beiderbecke envisioned for the piece (which he never recorded). I've worked on the transcription on and off for years and recently completed it.
Please note that this arrangement requires a guitar with a cutaway and is extremely difficult to play. (Cooder reportedly had to have the final version spliced together from several segments recorded in short bursts. He developed an only slightly easier arrangement that he played live and performed beautifully during the Jazz concert filmed for the TV show Soundstage.) Also note that I believe there are easier ways to play even this arrangement, but the transcription captures the way that it sounds like Cooder played it. If you haven't heard the tune, click on the little guitar to check it out: .
Flashes tab -- pdf format
I also recently transcribed the guitar part to Ry Cooder's performance of "FDR in Trinidad" from his recording Into the Purple Valley. It's in Drop D tuning and played with a Calypso beat. Click the little guitar to hear a clip:
FDR in Trinidad tab -- pdf format
Here's my transcription of Ry's "Great Dream From Heaven," also from Into the Purple Valley. It's in Drop D tuning.
Great Dream From Heaven --pdf format
FretKiller is a mysterious musician who has dozens of great acoustic guitar and vocal performance videos on YouTube. This is his arrangement of "When Somebody Thinks You're Wonderful," which you can watch him perform here. I transcribed the full tune for a customer; you can check out an excerpt below. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for info on buying the full tab.
When Somebody Thinks (excerpt -- guitar intro) -- pdf format
Here's a transcription of the Carter Family tune "I Loved You Better Than You Knew." It's in standard tuning, but capo'd at the sixth fret.
I Loved You Better tab -- pdf format
Here are transcriptions of the first 32 bars of David Grier's arrangement of "Whistling Rufus" and the first 48 bars of "Bill Cheatum," both as played on his CD I've Got the House to Myself. They're in .pdf format. If you haven't heard the tunes, click on the this little guitar to hear a clip of "Whistling Rufus" and this one to hear a clip of "Bill Cheatum"
Whistling Rufus tab -- pdf format
Bill Cheatum tab -- pdf format
Below is a transcription of Wayne Henderson's arrangement of the Carter family tune "Wildwood Flower," as played as part of the Carter Family Medley on his CD Rugby Guitar. The .pdf version provides the right hand fingerings. Here's a clip if you'd like to hear Wayne play "Wildwood Flower": . And here's the whole medley, which I've edited to move Wayne's guitar to the front of the mix: .
Wildwood Flower tab -- text format
Wildwood Flower tab -- pdf format
Here's a transcription of the guitar intro to Geoff Muldaur's version of the blues tune "I Can't See Your Face Anymore," as played on Geoff's live solo CD Beautiful Isle of Somewhere. If you haven't heard the tune, here's a sound clip of the intro: .
I Can't See Your Face Anymore tab -- text format
I Can't See Your Face Anymore tab -- pdf format
Below is the guitar intro to Stephen Stills' tune "So Begins the Task," as he plays it live (performance video no longer available on YouTube).
So Begins the Task Tab -- text format
So Begins the Task tab -- pdf format
Here's the transcription of Bryan Sutton's playing of Mark O'Connor's "Picking in the Wind" from O'Connor's CD Thirty-Year Retrospective:
Pickin' in the Wind tab -- text format
Pickin' in the Wind tab -- pdf format
This is Norman Blake's second break on "Lost Indian," as played on the CD Blake & Rice 2. Click on the little guitar to hear a sound clip of the break: .
Lost Indian -- pdf format
This is an excerpt of my fingerstyle arrangement of "Arkansas Traveler." It's in the key of C in standard tuning.
Arkansas Traveler -- TablEdit format (zipped)
Arkansas Traveler -- pdf format
This is my arrangement of "Miss the Mississippi and You," made famous by Jimmie Rodgers in the early 30's. It's in the key of G in standard tuning. You can see a video of my version of it on YouTube.
Miss the Mississippi and You -- pdf format
A transcription of "Chow Time" by the great southwestern Virginia guitarist and singer Estil C. (E.C.) Ball, musical mentor to Wayne Henderson. Click on the little guitar for an audio excerpt: .
Chow Time -- pdf format
SOME TIPS ON TRANSCRIBING
I occasionally get asked for advice on transcribing guitar music. Here are some tips, following the order I typically use in transcribing fingerstyle pieces from recordings:
1) Listen to the tune a lot. Put it on your CD or mp3 player and repeat it as you do stuff around the house or drive in your car so it gets into your head. Listening on headphones will help you pick up some of the nuances. I also find it best to use headphones in all the steps below.
2) Determine what key it's in. Typically the last note of the melody will be the key of the song. Hum it to yourself, then find it on the guitar.
3) Determine if it's in standard tuning or some alternate tuning. Open strings will be the best clue. You may find it useful to do Step 4 before Step 3, depending on the tune.
4) Determine if the person is using a capo and if so, on what fret. If you determine in step 2 that the song is in some key other than E, A, D, G, or C and you hear open strings, it's probably being played capo'd. For example, if itís not in one of those keys, you're pretty sure it's in standard tuning, and you hear F# in the bass on the open 6th string, it's probably capo'd at the 2nd fret.
5) Figure out the chord progression. Bass notes provide the best clue, since many fingerstyle arrangements use the note of the chord name as the primary bass note. Also, for most traditional-style tunes, there are usually a limited number and type of chords used. For example, in the key of C, in descending order of likelihood, look for C, F, G or G7, A7 or A minor, D7 or D minor, sometimes E7 or E minor, sometimes G diminished.
6) Figure out the bass parts. Once you know the chords, start with the most common fingering of the chords as the most likely starting points for finding the bass notes. This is the point at which you need to determine the time signature (if not before). It's probably in 4/4 (four beats per measure) but a lot of traditional tunes, especially ballads, are in 3/4 (three beats per measure, or waltz time).
7) Figure out the melody/treble string parts. This is where I often find it useful to use software (see below) to select a short passage, slow it down to 2/3 or 1/2 speed and loop it until I find the notes. Again, the best starting point is to play the chord. In simple fingerstyle pieces, odds are that the primary notes of the melody are tones in the chord or are reachable from fingering the chord. As for where the notes fall rhythmically, listen to determine whether a melody note falls on the same beat as a bass note or between bass notes.
For some tunes, it might make sense to figure out the melody first, then the chords and bass parts.
I find it helpful to use some kind of technology that lets me repeat small sections of the tune. In the old days it was picking up and dropping the needle on an LP, then I got a cassette player with solenoid controls so I could quickly play/rewind/play. Now I use a computer program called Transkriber that allows me to slow down the tune (without lowering the pitch) as well as make loops. There are similar software products called the Amazing Slow Downer and Transcribe! and I understand Windows Media Player can play sound files at half speed.
As mentioned above, I use a program called TablEdit to tab out parts (free demo version available at www.tabledit.com). I could use paper and enter it into TablEdit later, but if I use TablEdit as I go, I can use the MIDI function in TablEdit to play what I've tabbed and compare it to the CD or Transkriber sound file. TablEdit also makes it easy to share the tab when I'm done. - +
Last modified: 7/24/11