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TablEdit Users Say:

"I use TablEdit to help me learn the Banjo. There is nothing else out their even close to the functionality of TablEdit for Banjo. And now use it on my iPad too."
- David Mendel, California, USA


TablEdit for Banjo

TablEdit has supported banjo tablature since it's earliest days. TablEdit was the first tablature program to handle the fifth string correctly, and supports four string banjo as well!

The first thing to do when starting a new TAB for banjo is to select the instrument. This is very easily done by opening a new file, clicking on the tuning to the left of the TAB staff and select your preferred banjo tuning from the pull down list. If you don't find your preferred tuning on the pull down list, just select the one that's closest and adjust the individual strings to suit your needs.


Now, to be totally honest, Matthieu and I are not banjo players, we're guitarists. But we recognize the special and unique qualities that make the banjo the instrument that it is. With that in mind, we decided that I should ask a banjo player for their thoughts about TablEdit and the banjo.

Enter Richard "Rick" McKeon, banjo player and instructor extrordinaire!

The following is my conversation with Rick:

An interview with Banjo Instructor Richard McKeon

Keith: As a banjo teacher, what attracted you to TablEdit?

Rick: I have tried a lot of different music/tab programs and TablEdit is my top choice. I use it as a tool for working out arrangements, for writing tabs for my students and to develop graphics for my instructional videos.

Keith: Can you list a few specifics?

Rick: TablEdit has some great features for teaching banjo. For starters, there's the treatment of the 5th string, placement of lyrics, easy highlighting of notes, nice export features. TablEdit is a good transcribing tool with easy placement of chord diagrams and special characters. Not to mention that TablEdit has become The de facto standard for banjo...

Keith: Those are some great points. Let's take a look at the treatment of the 5th string...

Rick: TablEdit recognizes that the 5th string is shorter than the other strings. Some other TAB programs don't do that. I like to use the “print preview” of chord diagrams blown up real big, as much as 800 percent, and together with a screen capture program to grab nice graphics of chord diagrams that I import into my instructional videos and documents.

Keith: I see, so you get a nice crisp and clean look even at high magnification. No doubt that contributes to the professional quality of your lessons. You mentioned the placement of Lyrics?

Rick: For banjo songs especially placement of the words exactly where they go in the tab is important. This helps my students keep track of where they’re at in the song.

Keith: Again, helping you make a quality learning tool for your students.

Rick: That's right, and TablEdit allows for easy highlighting of melody notes with a background color.

Keith: So the students can pick out the melody as they are learning to play. So, how do the export features come in to the mix?

Rick: When putting together an instructional booklet I often use the Print View page and export a metafile to the clipboard. Then I can easily paste the page into a Word document. Then I will save out the Word document as a PDF file.

Keith: That is handy, isn't it? So what makes TablEdit a good transcribing tool?

Rick: When I'm creating a banjo arrangement I start with the melody and then add in banjo rolls and embellishments. Many times the only source for the melody is music written for piano – usually in a different key. TablEdit allows for easy input in standard notation and easy transposition to the key I want – usually the key of G. Once I have the arrangement worked out I usually display the tab only.

Keith: That makes sense, and I see how that can open whole worlds of music for banjo players too. You mentioned chord diagrams and special characters?

Rick: I did, easy placement of chord diagrams and special characters. With the banjo we use a lot of partial chords and finger placements that might not be obvious. TablEdit allows for easy chord diagram creation and placement. So, instead of just naming the chord I can show the diagram in the tab where it belongs.

Keith: I like the idea of TablEdit as the de facto standard for banjo, but isn't that a bold claim?

Rick: In my opinion TablEdit is becoming the de facto standard for banjo tabs. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of tabs on the Internet available for downloading. When I exchange songs with other banjo players it is always in the TEF format.

Keith: OK, well, you're the expert on that, I'll take your word for it. Now, what do your students like about TablEdit?

Rick: Several of my students use TablEdit or your free TEFview. There are many advantages over just giving them the printed tab.

Keith: Such as?

Rick: For starters, they can listen to the sound of an unfamiliar tune.

Keith: So they know how it's supposed to sound and have a practice goal to work toward. That makes sense. How about another example?

Rick: They can play along at different speeds.

Keith: Right, and using the Loop and Increase Speed options to improve their mastery of the piece. I like that point! How about one more?

Rick: I might give them an assignment of writing some variations or an arrangement starting with just the melody. Once they are familiar with the program, writing tabs is much easier than writing them out by hand on tab paper.

Keith: I'm sure that makes it easier for them to explore their own arrangements too. Rick, it's been really nice chatting with you, thank you so much for your time!

Rick: My pleasure.

Richard McKeon is a banjo and guitar player and instructor in Prescott, Arizona. He has written and published four DVDs on playing banjo and guitar. His books, guitar and banjo instruction videos and his TablEdit arrangements can be found on his web site at http://www.rickmckeon.com

Rick's not the only Banjo player singing TablEdit's praises, over the years I've heard from hundreds of banjo players and instructors...

Here's what a few of them have to say.

Of all the music programs that I use I find TablEdit to be the one I use the most. It is the most practical and easiest to use of all the notation and/or tab programs that I have tried. I am interested in Bluegrass so there are a lot of tabs that I download for banjo, mandolin and guitar.
I am studying banjo and I enter tabs and play them back to hear the way they sound. I've also done the same thing with guitar tabs.

Joseph Wilbert
New Orleans, LA

I use TablEdit as a part of my instructional program. I find it to be an instrumental component for my students and myself. It gives me the ability to create lessons for my students that they can follow either by using the free viewer or printouts of the tablature. For the student, they benefit greatly by having the ability to adjust the tempo to whatever speed they need and select specific phrases they may be having trouble with.

I play bluegrass banjo in a band and need to be able to work out my own breaks. TablEdit gives me the freedom to write, edit and playback my creations. I don't always remember what I've played in the past, so it's nice to be able to refresh by memory from the files I've made. Whether you are a beginning musician, or a proficient picker, I'm confident that you will find TablEdit as useful and helpful as I do.

Brad Miller
Banjo Instructor
Poulsbo, WA

Thanks.TablEdit has been a big help to me. I play in a band where some of the people are only note readers. I am not, so teaching them had been difficult clumsy. Using TablEdit I was able to tab out some pieces that immediately translated to notes that they were able to read easily. I will continue to do this. I also give lessons on various instruments, including guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo. This product enables me to "change gears" readily, as well as print out tabs and chord pictures for my students. I have it on my desktop and laptop so I can write or compose, or save musical ideas. This is a remarkably helpful tool, and worth every penny to any level musician. This is a truly wonderful product. It has become indispensable to me.

Steve Loring
Cadillac, MI,

Thanks Keith for the unfailing tech support, TablEdit is a terrific program. I play 5 string banjo, and Tablature is a huge part of learning to play tunes and techniques. There is a world of Banjo players out there using this program and churning out material in the TablEdit format, then making it available for others and that's why I chose to use TablEdit. Its popular! I can read, print and playback the Music and Tabs that they have created with this program. I can adjust tempo, loop phrases and much more. It's just a Hoot! Sight reading with this program develops great hand/ear coordination!
Thanks all you pickers out there! Appreciate your TablEdit efforts!!

Chris Stear
Gibsons, BC, Canada

TablEdit for Banjo Resources

Here are a few web sites that have banjo resources created with an using TablEdit:

Banjo, Mandolin & Guitar Tabs, and Video Lessons by Banjo Ben Clark...
Learn how to play banjo, mandolin and guitar under the instruction of noted Nashville musician Banjo Ben Clark. Featuring video instructions, tab downloads, private lessons, a forum and much more!...

Banjo Hangout - free banjo lessons, tabs, links, and more! Bluegrass, jazz,...
The Banjo Hangout--a banjo player's resource for everything banjo related, including lessons, tablature, and links to other banjo and bluegrass websites....

Banj'r Home Page...
Banj'r is Don Borchelt's interactive collection of 77 three-finger style bluegrass banjo arrangements, presented in an interactive tablature format within a unique computer program. ...

Banjo Teacher by Ross Nickerson...
An amazing resource for students and players featuring books for the Five Sting Banjo by Ross Nickerson...

Clawhammer Banjo and Three Finger Banjo Books by "Wild Jimbo" Pankey...
Clawhammer Banjo and Three Finger Banjo Books by "Wild Jimbo" Pankey...

ezFolk Home - Where the Folkies Play!...
Folk music site that provides free MP3 and video hosting for folk and acoustic artists as well as tablature and tutorials for ukulele, banjo, guitar, and harmonica....

Free Gospel Banjo Tablature | Walkin' On Water...
The tablature is free for you to download and print for your own use. ...

Guitar and Banjo Lessons with Rick McKeon...
This website is my attempt to share some of the wonderful music I have enjoyed over the years. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Instructional videos now available! ...