Free Transcribing Tools

How to read TAB

Transcribing is the art of being able to hear a song and then write the song/lick/idea it down in a form that any musician can read and play back. That’s really all it is.


I’m not going to go into the “how to”, but instead give you some FREE transcribing tools to help you out. These are tools I use all the time (I’m in no way rewarded for recommending the following products!)




Firstly, on this site you can get sheets of blank chord boxes, blank notation, and blank notation with TAB.


It’ll always be free and easy to find – just hit “Resources” and you’ll see them!



Power Tab Editor

I’ve used Power Tab Editor for coming over 10 years (yep, that long!). While it can be a bit buggy (remember to save the file before you start working – it has a habit of closing as you’re looking for the right folder to save it!), it’s really useful for writing songs out, try out rhythms – especially if you’re stuck while transcribing.


I use it to write songs/licks/parts for teaching, for writing up personal transcriptions, and other such things. It’s also great for figuring out chord names, especially when the guitar is in an open tuning as it displays the notes in notation and therefore makes it easy to name the chord.


The best part is it’s easy to use and FREE – check it out: Power Tab Editor




TuxGuitar, does pretty the same as Power Tab, just it’s newer (last released in 2009 v.s. 2006 for power tab). Again it’s just an easy way to write your ideas out and be able to play them back to check if you’re right or not. You can get TuxGuitar




So that’s writing ideas out. How do we get the song slow enough to work it out?


Over time you’ll get good at hearing the chord changes, however single notes could still be a problem – especially if they’re super fast.




This is a nice bit of software. You can use it slow the song down (without pitch change), select and loop bars (even at a slower tempo). In addition, you can record into it (although it has time issue for those who want to track more than one part on top of each other).


It’s easy to use and could be the simplest way for you to get transcribing today! You can download it: Audacity®



PreSonus Studio One Free

This is a complete recording studio in one. If you’ve used Cubase or Garage Band (or even pro-tools), then you’ll probably be able to get to work with this straight away.


If you’ve not used to a one of those studio packages, then it could take you some time to work on how to use this software – it might well be confusing at the start. However once you’ve got the hang, you will be recording ideas and guitar solos down in next to no time!


Like Audacity®, PreSonus Studio One can be used amongst other things, to slow music down, find the tempo and then select and loop bars in order that you can work them out.


The beauty of PreSonus Studio One is you can start with the Free version which is actually amazing for what it is and then if you need to, upgrade to the professional version (which costs around $250). I’ll do a proper review sometime soon. You can find all the details: PreSonus Studio One



So there you have it, a range of free transcribing tools to enable you to start today. What’s your favourite tool to use?


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