Jan 13

(Free) Power Tab Editor Software by Brad Larsen

If you’ve ever stumbled upon a song file with the “.ptb” extension, well, you’ve found a Power Tab (Music) file that you can open and edit thanks to this free (Windows-only) editor:

Power Tab Editor is a tablature authoring tool… to create sheet music, more commonly known to musicians as tablature. The program provides the most commonly used symbols in tablature, including chord names, chord diagrams, rhythm slashes, bends, slides, hammer-ons/pull-offs, harmonics and palm muting.

This program even plays (in full MIDI glory) the song with metronome!

Power Tab Editor screenshot

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Oct 12

Free Blank Ukulele Staff & Tablature Music Manuscript Paper

Part of the reason I’ve resumed work on the tablature conversion “software” (JavaScript is software? sure. why not?) is so I could learn to play a song’s melody– you know, music that sounds like “music” as opposed to just the chords (I cannot sing) — with people asking, “ummmm, what are you suppose to be playing now?”

However, in order to do this I needed blank manuscript paper, paper with the musical staff (just treble clef, of course) plus the tablature “bars”. Naturally, I made my own… because I’d never heard of this Google thing.

Download the Free Ukulele Staff & Tablature Music Manuscript Paper (79KB PDF)

Free Ukulele Staff & Tablature Manuscript Paper
The page has six staves, each containing the treble cleff musical staff plus G-C-E-A tablature lines (strings, actually I suppose).

Like I said, I failed to Google for the paper — had I, I would have found this really nice (and also free) uke paper these cats already have. Idiot.

I also need to thank Shirley Kaiser (SKDesigns) and Linkware Graphics Music Images for providing (free) vector music shapes — the treble clef symbol, for example.

Aug 12

Fingering Diagram versus Tablature


Just as pictograms preceded our phonetic written language, every ukester quickly learns to read “fingering diagrams” before learning tabs.

Fingering Diagrams are just pictures of the ukulele’s fretboard, zoomed-in, showing where to place your fingers. They’re awesomely intuitive!

Tablature (aka “tabs”), on the other hand, aren’t immediately obvious, being a hybrid of diagram (the four lines are, in fact, your uke’s four strings) plus written instructions (the column of numbers indicating the fret to press on each string).

Whereas a fingering diagram shows where to place your fingers (which frets to press down) tablature tells you which frets to press.

That’s it — that’s the difference!

The “trick” for either method is to know the orientation: if you can locate the G string you’ll be fine.

For fingering diagrams hold the ukulele away from your body, but facing you — this will place the G string on your left (the A string’s to your right). See top picture.

Now, still holding your uke at arm’s length, rotate it counter-clockwise 90° to a horizontal position — this puts the G string on the bottom. This is how the lines in tablature are drawn; “A” at the top, “G” on the bottom (see bottom picture).

Now all that’s left is jotting down which frets to play, so, using the simple, triangle shaped G chord as our example we’ll begin with the “G” (bottom) string:

  • the G string is played “open” (you don’t press any frets at all) so we write “0
  • on the C string we press down the second fret, so we write “2
  • on the E string we press the 3rd fret, so, yup write “3
  • finally, the A string. We need to press the second fret, so, sure, write “2

Congrats! You can read tablature!

By the way, this is how chords are written, G string to A string, so we wind up saying a G chord is:


Why use tabs? Well, it’s a very compact way of writing lots of chords (or single notes), but more on that later.