Practice gets harder for aspiring musicians

By Jillian Smith
March 15, 2007

Meghan Hurley

Back in December of 2005, guitar players could no longer get their free tablatures off the internet. In fact, tabs of copyrighted music were considered illegal by the music industry. Conversely,, a well-known site for guitar tabs, has now decided to display their tabs for a fee, instead of for free. closed its site in December 2005 due the legal issues surrounding tabs. However, as of February 2006, was back up and running with a cautionary note from the owners explaining their position on the legal issues.

According to, the owners believe that the purpose of MXtabs is to ‘aid musicians in learning their instruments.’

“I used to be very familiar with until it was shut down awhile ago,” junior business administration major Stephen Rapone said. “I was surprised to see what it had become now.”

Instead of being for free, the tabs on MXtabs have to be purchased in order to see them. Pricing goes anywhere from $1.95 and upward. Books are more expensive than just a single sheet of music, with a wide variety of music genres to choose from.

Once on the MXtabs website, it encourages you to click on song titles to see their tabs. However, once you click on a song, a notice pops up stating: “Due to recent controversy regarding the legality of free guitar tabs on the Internet, MXtabs is temporarily unable to display this guitar tablature. We hope to be able to offer guitar tabs again in the very near future.”

But never to leave a struggling musician stranded, MXtabs recommends downloading Guitar Guru from It’s free to download and teaches you how to play hundreds of songs on guitar.

Ren Cicalese, a sophomore accounting and financing major at Rutgers University in Camden, thought Guitar Guru was a “pretty good program for any beginning player to have.”

Rapone agrees. “It is very nice and being able to see the actual frets of the guitar and finger positioning is very convenient.”

Junior English and communication major Bill Cassidy has used Guitar Guru before and believes that the “most helpful feature of Guitar Guru is the ability to slow down the song so you can learn it at your own speed.”

“As a caution,” Cicalese said, “some of the notes on the tab are incorrect and also the suggested fingerings sometime make things more complicated.”

“The only criticism I can think of,” Cassidy said, “would relate to all tabs and that would be the guitar player relying 100 percent on tabs rather than learning by ear.”

On the FAQ’s page of, it states, “Our tabs are not intended to be accurate or official tabs for the artist, but are merely by-ear transcriptions. These tabs are to be used for: study, skill development, and scholarship only.”

In accordance to the legality issues, MXtabs’ website states, “The goal of Music X Tabs is to provide a valuable resource for musicians who want to further their instrument skills. We do not seek to violate copyrights, and we encourage that you purchase the artist’s album and official sheet music.”

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Jillian Smith

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