Calling all guitar Gods...

I’m looking for a Christmas present for my son and I’m wondering if there is a software program to achieve what I’m (he) is after. My son is 14 and shows great promise with his guitar. He can get tabs for many songs off the net. But many are tabed wrong or aren’t there. Is there a program to go line out of a CD player to line in to the computer to find a particular note or chord? I know there is copywrite issuses here but hey, the boy gave up his paper route to work at Mickey D’s to keep him in strings.
Thanks for your input
Rock on from the geezer

I know of no such thing, and I suspect it isn’t doable with todays home computer technology.

If you find such a thing, I’d love to know about it.

On another front, I found I learned a great deal about music by working through that process manually, i.e. by playing along with records and the radio.

May I suggest as an alternative a program like cakewalk where he can program rythms and lines to play along with? To do this, he probably will need a music keyboard, maybe that’s getting into more money than you want.

Alternatively, if he’s an electric guitar player, there are a host of effect pedals you can buy that he’ll enjoy. Find out what he has and ask someone at the music store (or folks here) to suggest an addition. If this is his first effect, a distortion pedal, a flanger or a wah-wah pedal would be good choices.

Another nice gift would be an electronic tuner.

You might just want to find a good fake book. Any suggestions I could make would be outdated, but maybe someone here could suggest a good current one. What music does your son listen to?

Right. Agreeing with the others, I don’t think such a program exists.

The alternative is for your son to sit down with guitar in hand and song playing and just piece together the chords and notes himself. This will develop his ear and is also more satisfying and fulfilling than following someone else’s tab.

If you have any old Creedence Clearwater Revival cd’s around, they would make a good starting point since the songs consist of only three or four chords (all basic majors and minors) and are very easy to plunk out -without any tabs or sheet music.

You are correct that the tabs on sites such as olga, often contain glaring mistakes but I guess that’s part of the charm. The magazines Guitar World and Guitar will provide accurate tabs of songs from a mixture of genres but they tend to be rather advanced and would be quite a challenge for a beginning player.

Ah, the wonders of technology. Why spend hours learning how to read music, when someone might invent a device to read the chords off a CD? I guess those endless hours of solfeggio drills I did with my guitar and piano instructors were useless. Maybe we can just hook up a chord-reading device to a synthesizer and just eliminate the guitarist completely.

What your son needs is not more technology, the guitar is a wonder of technology in and of itself. What he needs is guitar lessons, with plenty of ear training.

Thanks for the input. I seem to have this habit of looking for things that don’t exist. Daniel has been playing for about 18 months. Through his hard work he is alot further down the road then I lead you to believe. He likes Zakk Wylde (removes hat) Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix. He has one pedal with a gazillion effect settings and can do a mean version of Voodoo Chile.
Back to problem at hand. How about an audio program that you can play a snatch of a song over and over to decipher if it is in drop d tuning or whatever.

Hey, Thirsty

If there were any software along the lines you are looking for, the worst thing you could do would be to buy it for your son. Musicians need “ears”! The inaccurate charts you find on the net are actually a useful part of the “learning to listen” process. They save time over having to work out the whole song, but encourage you to listen out for the parts where the transcriber was waffling.

There is no CD -> transcription device. That’s why guitar magazines have professional transcribers.

There are several software programs (as well as hardware devices) to loop parts of songs. Most include some sort of time/pitch adjustment to slow down for difficult passages.

Just as an example, take a look at Slow Gold

There are many guitar boxes that do the same thing, but they always seemed a bit expensive to me.

These are very useful tools and even professional transcribers use them, no shame here.

If he can already play “Voodoo Chile”, he’s well on his way – it’s just practice, practice, practice. Soon enough he’ll be able to pick it up by ear.

I myself don’t play, but I’m married to a musician (blues guitar player). I’ve got to stand with the others here who have said he needs to learn to use his ears. With the proper training and practice, he’ll be able to learn all kinds of stuff, and be able to tune to all sorts of things. I’ve seen my husband tune using the dial tone on the phone (IIRC it’s almost an F–please correct me if I’m wrong). He also knows what key our refrigerator hums in.

Stuff like that might sound silly, but if you’ve got to tune and you don’t have a tuning device, things like that can be helpful.

I know of no device that does that exactly, but with a guitar synth you can play music and have software transcribe it into sheet music or tablature. If you had some way of isolating the guitar track on a CD someone with a bit of electronics know-how might be able to figure out a way to trick the software into doing that…but nothing out-of-box would do that.

I agree something like Cakewalk would be good, though I’ve found that kind of software can have a steep learning curve. You might look into getting him an inexpensive 4-track recorder, they are a lot of fun and really useful. He can record a rhythm track, rewind and add a lead guitar track over it, etc. He can later get a bass guitar and a drum machine, but when I first got to mess around with one I had tons of fun making songs with 4 guitar parts.


There is a 14 year old boy in Phoenix who has drawn quite a flush with his guitar acumen.

I have seen him play whilst visiting the southwest and he is astonishing!
He has of course listened to the Gods of Guitar. Joe Satriani, B.B.King, Claptan…etc…etc…

If your son is good, and he can truly demonstrate the raw talent. Recommend he listen to the greats and at great length. He’ll find that hidden pitch in his head, hopefully before the guitar lands itself in the closet.

Support is the true key, praise when he wants to listen and when he doesn’t. Maybe one day my kids will be listening to your kid…Rock On!!

The recommendation for a small multi-track recorder is another good one.

I’m 22, I’ve played guitar for about 5 years now, and your kid is probably better than me.

That said, I can agree with what’s been said. I’d suggest guitar lessons, first and foremost. That would be a big help. Someone to teach him some of the finer points of chord construction, music theory, and modes. The modes in particular can be a big help because with enough proactice, he could probably listen to something like Joe Satriani’s “Flying in a Blue Dream,” say to himself “Hey! That sounds like it uses a lydian mode!” Then, playing around with the notes in the lydian mode, he could get a handle on the song by using the notes in the mode or scale that the song is based around.

Besides lessons, I’d say even though tabs on the net are often inacurate, there are plenty of good ones too. Just hunt around for ones that sound right to you. Other possible gifts would be albums featuring good guitar players of all styles…both the understated B.B. King-types to the whiz-bang Steve Vai-types.

The 4-track is also a good bet. I believe you can get a little Tascam for around $100 if you shop around.