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Guitar World Tabs Beta reminds me why I miss OLGA

Update: Mashable reports that Guitar World has signed with Sony/ATV and there have also been some Beatles and other artists slowly appearing.

Sorry, we have not cleared rights from the publisher for the artist you are looking for but we hope to soon. In the meantime, check out these great tabs from Guitar World.

That's the message that repeatedly tempered my excitement after I found out about Guitar World's Tabs Beta. Tabs, for me, are synonymous with the Internet. Even before mp3s had become primary Internet format for angering the RIAA, you could find repositories of guitar tablature to download and practice. was my harvesting grounds until the Web blossomed with sites like OLGA (Online Guitar Archive) that made it all nice and indexed. Then the legal threats came and tabs fanned out again.

I understood the copyright issues behind it all, but it always felt a bit disingenuous to me: how can you claim copyright for something you don't even sell? Even as a high school student with little money, I purchased piles of Guitar World magazines and books of guitar tab -- the professional transcriptions were always better than what was online -- but it always felt as if 90% of the tabs I wanted only existed on the Internet.

With the launch of Guitar World Tabs Beta, I feel teleported back to 1997. Even though the site tries to style itself as the iTunes of tabs, it's more like the eMusic: a lot of nice touches, but without content who cares? I tried as many Guitar World staples I could think of and got the "Sorry" messsage: Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Satriani, Santana, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, and Audioslave. The only two searches that returned results for me: B.B. King (1 tab) and Nirvana (1 tab).


On the plus side, it's free, users can submit tabs to fill out their database, and their 'premium tabs' are really nice -- they even appear to be synced to the music so you can press a 'play' button to have it automatically scroll. Sadly it seems that you can't easily print these premium tabs as they're embedded in flash, but the user-submitted ones are plain text that you can copy and paste.

Note to music industry: I'll pay for this stuff -- I've got the collection of Guitar Worlds to prove it. Let us buy it. License it. Stop dooming these promising efforts by refusing your content that you weren't making money on anyways. While you're at it, start selling GarageBand versions of songs. If you want to make more than $0.99 a song, give us more.

Comments (6)


There are many more licensing deals coming up. Keep an eye on it!


There are many more licensing deals coming up. Keep an eye on it!

Drew Kerr:

The site is VERY early on in Beta (as it says). However, there is lots more coming very soon as there'll be announcements on other music publishers who have signed on with the site. Please have patience because you'll be rewarded with more and more content as time goes on.


Given that there is a general admission that there is very little content, could you add a "news" section to the Beta site that reports on new artist signings? Maybe even subscribe via e-mail or RSS?

I realize that it's the music publishers that are responsible for the sparse selection, but I feel like I'm walking into a music store that sells one CD, and its off-putting to be asked to patiently keep coming back. It's been a month since the site launched and I still don't see new content.


keep checking - a bunch of beatles stuff was just added and many more. Licensing is a slow process...

kwc Author Profile Page:

Thanks for the heads up. I'm happy to see the catalog expand, especially with The Beatles. I wish that there was some actual way to get announcements of the new material. I saw a Mashable article that GW signed with Sony/ATV, but there is no similar announcement on It really sucks to have to keep visiting and scrolling through the list just to figure out what is new.

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