Finding good guitar tabs is not an easy endeavor. Which is kind of weird, because in this day and age and the omnipresence of all kind of information through the internet, it should really be a matter of seconds to get the guitar tablature you are looking for. And it’s not that those tabs don’t exist, however, sometimes it seems virtually impossible to get access to them.
I have been using the 911 Guitar Tabs website in the past but then more or less completely stopped for a many years. Recently, I bit the bullet and signed up again.
Let’s start with some good news. The registration to 911 Tabs is free. However, here is a very important point that you should be aware of. 911 Tabs doesn’t provide you with any tabs, it is rather a tab search engine that scans a whole bunch of actual tab websites for you and then populates a list with the relevant results. Much like Google, just for guitar tabs. So the fact of the matter is, you don’t get any actual tablatures and that you need to keep in mind.
Here’s an example: for one of the guitar lessons I am going to put together for guitaringenuity.com, I was looking for some decent tabs for the song “On and on” by Michael Schenker. I started my search and 911 tabs provided me with a whole list of results referencing to other websites. One of which is ultimate-guitar.com. Getting access to all the information, including the tabs on this website, is not free, though.
A subscription to ultimate-guitar.com is not expensive, even if you go with their priciest option, which is $29.95 for a full year membership. If I were you though, I would start with a one month subscription which is only $2.95 which allows you to figure out whether or not you get any value out of it. In addition to the “auto scrolling tabs” it comes with play along (midi files) and a bunch of other very cool features. For instance, a virtual fretboard at the bottom of the tab shows you the exact position of your fingers at any given point in time of the song:
Another popular search result coming out of 911 Tabs all the time is tabsheaven.net. This, in my opinion, is by far the worst of all. After spending 15 minutes on their website I still wasn’t able to figure out how to get access to the tab I was looking for. The website is loaded with ads and it’s practically impossible to make a web presence look any more spammy. Finally, I found the download link I was looking for – of course it was surrounded by ads so you got to be careful and make sure that you don’t accidentally click on another link. The file downloaded but I was unable to open it because it’s in a special format. I gather you need a special software for those files, but again, it was impossible for me to figure out where to download that software from. I have no idea if there actually is anything useful on tabsheaven.net. Maybe there is, but if that’s the case, then they made sure that it’s well buried under a host of spam.
Alright, so registering with 911 Tabs is free, you got nothing to lose. It might take you a little longer to actually get to the information you are looking for, but I still find this tab search engine quite useful. However, while it certainly costs a few bucks more, I still believe that the best guitar tabs are those you buy from publishers like Hal Leonard – that’s my favorite, because they are very accurate (not always perfect, but damn close).