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Advice on improving playing, reading tabs, and hello

Posts: 22
I have only just come across this site within the last six months, and I am very happy it exists. It does frustrate me that a lot of the songs that I would like to know how to play are not represented here, but hopefully one day they will be.

My musical education is… spotty, to say the least. I am autistic, so I have a lot of weird things with my senses. When I hear notes, I do not hear the notes, the “B flat, C sharp” or so forth. I hear verbal sounds that the notes or progressions remind me of. That especially makes it hard for me to figure out what notes are coming out of the speakers. So that is my first question. Is there a way that I can train myself to at least recognise the notes? I would of course love to be able to contribute some day.

One thing that really has me scratching my head is the way tabs seem to be vertically flipped. When I was writing them with my bass teacher ~25 years ago, we would have the lines oriented the way the strings are on the neck. That is, lowest note string at the top. The other way causes me confusion. But I can find my own way around that.

Anyway, thank you if you read this far, and I hope we can have a long productive association.
LoudLon [moderator]
Posts: 1930
I had the same problem with reading tabs when I first started way back when. It didn't make sense to me that the top string of the guitar was the bottom string of the tab. Then a buddy explained to me that basically, a tab is like laying your guitar across your lap and looking down at it. And immediately it made a lot more sense to me. Even now, some twenty plus years later, if I'm asked how to read tabs, that's exactly how I explain it.

I'm sorry to say I can't begin to understand how it must be having the tonal problems that come with your being autistic. Have you considered assigning each note a specific number on the fret board? That's all a tab is, anyway – showing how to play a song by indicating what number fret to play it on.

You hear a song you want to learn. Sit down with your bass, listen to the song, and go through it note by note, finding each on the fret board, and then assign a number to it. For instance, maybe the low E could be 1-0 (1st string, 0 fret, meaning you play it open). G could be 1-3 (1st string, 3rd fret). C would be 2-3 (2nd string, 3rd fret). And on and on.

Just a thought. Best of luck to you. Keep playing.
Coming from keyboard playing in my youth, I only started playing bass at the age of 50. I had to switch from white and black keys to a linear scale with semitone increments. At first my brain tried to visualize keys. Later I recognized patterns. That's what I stuck to and I like it a lot. I mostly play by ear, so if I grab a bass to play along, I ‘see’ patterns on the fretboard. Probably this pattern-like visualization makes me tune D standard instead of drop D, if required.
Posts: 22
Thank you. I will definitely start trying to write things down so that when I see, for instance, fret 4 on string B, I will have a written note of what note that is. Near to thirty years ago, I just thought in frets, and it tripped me up a lot.

Auditory processing disorder is another one of those things where there is insufficient research. Not all autistic people have APD, and not all people who have APD are autistic, but there is a significant overlap. Further research would clarify the extent, but the level of trust that autistic people have in researchers at present is nearly none, and for good reason. Even without autism in the picture, research methods have a lot of catching up to do where APD and similar variants are concerned. In my specific case, APD means that bass and very high treble frequencies (think violins) stand out more than frequencies between. As well as perceiving sounds oddly in terms of distance. A person standing right in front of me and speaking might be hard for me to hear over a massed group of people sixty feet away. When I became aware of this and the reason, I adapted my methods as much as I could.

I spent a long time without playing a note, then when I came back to my instrument, I learned just how much my poor hands needed to be brought back to a good state. As it currently is, I cannot even hit the same fret on different strings, a move that I had learned so I could play the bass solo from Poptallica's Orion (for example). It sucks, but I guess it is what I get for going years without any practice.

I guess my next step is to go and look at some of the exercises on this site. It is funny what one learns is on a site when one stops skimming. Haha.

It is also amazing what a great perspective time gives. When I was fourteen or so, I told one music teacher I wanted to learn the bass because of people like Flea or Cliff Burton. Now I realise that everything I heard from the age of two and change, such as Geezer Butler's bass parts, or Billy Gould's bass parts on The Real Thing ten years later… I definitely wish I had known that I was born with an ability to hear things that are not all up on the surface in *in yer face*. Haha.

I definitely should make myself work to understand the requests system on this site better. I originally requested two songs before I started really frequently coming back, and both of those were fulfilled although the second result was a bit disappointing for reasons I can clarify another time. Again, the whole concept of this site is a great one.

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