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Creating Guitar Tabs in Cubase

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Tabs have been around for centuries. They've helped tons of musicians play their instruments easily and correctly without having to read the complex music notations. Usually, no theoretical knowledge is required, because the numbers on the tabs shows which notes are to be played, and when to play them.

Tabs can be made for many instruments such as guitar, bass, ukulele, etc. In this tutorial I will show you how to create tabs for guitar in Cubase. Cubase has a standard tabbing module which makes creating tabs a piece of cake.

There are two main ways through which we can create tabs for a song:

  1. by converting the MIDI data,
  2. and by manually entering the tabs.

Let’s get started.

Method 1. Converting MIDI Data Automatically

This method is easier than manually entering the tabs because we can use a MIDI keyboard (or MIDI guitar) to record the MIDI information, and then convert it directly to tabs. For this method we need to have a MIDI track with the required MIDI information on it.

Cubase will not convert the MIDI notes which are outside the range of the instrument. Make sure you play notes appropriate for the instrument you are creating the tab for.
  • Select the MIDI track. Go to Scores and select Open Selection or press Control+R. The notation of the MIDI data will be displayed.
  • Now go to Scores, then Settings, Staff, and then Tablatures. Here we need to activate the tablature mode by checking the checkbox and then selecting the instrument as Guitar.
  • Sometimes we might need a capo or a certain fret for the song. We can select the fret on which the capo is to be placed by specifying it in the Capo box. This will change the tablatures accordingly. Values from 0 to 12 can be entered.
  • The No Stems/Rests make the stems and the rests in the MIDI data to disappear. This makes it easier for the musician to read.
  • MIDI Channel 1-6 is used to display the notes automatically on the correct string according to the correct channel number.
  • Next, the tuning of the strings can be easily changed in the String Tunings list. Here we can select which tuning is used for each strings. We can specify the tunings for 12 strings altogether. If you do not require a string, all you have to do is to set it to Off mode. Values from C#-2 to G8 can be entered here.
  • After setting everything as to your desire, press Apply and the tabs of the MIDI data will be displayed.

Method 2. Writing Tabs Manually

Cubase also allows you to create the tabs manually, which is really useful if you don’t have a MIDI keyboard or guitar. Do this by adding an empty MIDI track, and then drawing an empty space with the Draw tool. Then go to Scores and select Open Selection to get started.

  • First, go to the Settings of the Scores page and activate Tablature Mode. Then select the number of strings, the capo’s position, the tuning of the strings, and other settings that you need to change.
  • Now go to Main settings under the Staff setting and change the Clef/Key to TAB.
  • The Local Key is used when you want the set a different key for the selected staff only. Activating this is not necessary, since we are only tabbing for guitars in this tutorial. The Auto Clef option automatically determines the clef according to the range of the notes present in the track.
  • Now move on to the Optionstab. Change the number of System Lines that Cubase displays by default. Again, this depends upon the instrument that you are using the tabs for, and we will be setting it to 6, the number of strings on a standard guitar. Here you can also set the spacing between the lines on the staff. Values from -2 to +5 can be entered. You can also select the range of the notes here.
  • After applying the settings, move on to entering the tabs for the notes. Select the Insert Note tool and place it on the required space on the staff. Now, slowly move the mouse up or down while keeping an eye on the Mouse position toolbar for the required note. Once you get the note that you need, click on the staff and the tabs will appear on it.

3. Finishing Touches

Editing Tabs

After creating your tab, you may want to change a note that is in a specific string onto another string. In order to do so, select the note that you want to change the string, right-click and select Move to String and select the required string.

In the right-click context menu, we also get options to change the note, hide the note, add trill to it, and various other settings. These settings can also be found under the Scores menu.

Changing the Appearance of Tabs

You can also change the font style of the tabs by selecting the required font from the Score settings page. Select the Project tab and from the Pages list, select Text Setting.

Once this is selected, select Tablatures from the drop-down menu for Font For. Now you can select the required font from the list according to your requirement.

Exporting the Finished Tab

Once you've finished writing the tabs, we can export the tab sheet to an image format, such as .JPG. You can view the tabs in the Page View mode to preview how it will look on the page. We can make formatting changes where needed and get it ready for export.

To export the scores, select Export from the File menu, select Scores, and then save the file in the required format.

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