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Tab Toolkit: A Look at the Notation and Tab App for iOS

Tab ToolkitSeeing as I’ve always had a somewhat “snobbish” aversion to Tab, I had avoided most every app in the store that provided it. So I’m happy to report I overcame that for a minute to try out Tab Toolkit, and I’m glad I did.

Tab Toolkit is a pretty wonderful app, beautifully executed and immensely useful. The app comes pre-loaded with a handful of tabs to get you going, including some nice exercises for your treble-making guitar-playing friends. There’s also a built-in tab store, offering a wealth of classical and pop repertoire.

And we’re not just talking bass tabs here. If you search the store by instrument, you’ll find that there are tabs for everything from accordion to violin and just about everything in between. Many of the pop tracks include tab for lead and rhythm guitar, bass, vocals, drums and even percussion.

As I explored the app, I realized how cool it is as a practice tool.

Once you select a tune, you’re presented with the music notation and tab for the tune. A fretboard is positioned at the bottom of the screen as a guide. If you switch instruments, the guide at the bottom changes as well. For example, if you switch to piano, the fretboard is replaced with piano keys.

Tab Toolkit storeThe play-along is fantastically smooth and easy to follow, and you have visual aids for not just the notation and tab, but you can see it played on the instrument below as well.

Additional controls include:

  • Alter the tempo (a huge bonus)
  • Metronome with or without count-in
  • Loop a bar or series of bars
  • Change display size of notation
  • Remove instrument display, if you like
  • Left handed fretboards!
  • Mixer to mix in and out various instruments (for tracks that include multiple tracks)

While I’d love to see more jazz transcriptions offered, the selection of music is varied enough that you should have no problem finding tunes you’d like to work on.

The good news is that Tab Toolkit supports several multi-track music notation formats, including Guitar Pro and Power Tab, as well as a few others which may not support every function.

Tab Toolkit example screenJust as I was wrapping up this review, I found some Pat Metheny Guitar Pro tabs and added them to the app view the “Transfer” button. It worked perfectly.

So now, I’m really stoked. A little searching on the web, and absolutely anyone can have some great notation, tab, playback and the rest.

Tab Toolkit is a universal app, designed for both iPhone and iPad. The app is currently available on the App Store for $1.99 and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Have a question for Damian? Send it to askdamian@notreble.com. Check out Damian’s instructional books at the No Treble Shop.

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