# Guitar tablatures typesetting?

So I kindof wanted to leave old and ugly ascii-art tabs and produce something nice, but found there's probably no method to typeset actual guitar tabs in TeX.

All I found was:

• MusiXTeX for classical music notation
• songbook for lyrics+chords above
• guitar.sty for something similar.

Is there something that does tabs and I missed it?

edit: I need TeX text around, it's for a (kind of) guitar textbook.

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Do you mean something like this? openguitar.com/files/juba-short.pdf – Harold Cavendish Apr 23 '11 at 9:23
yeah, would be nice. With LaTeX text around, ofcourse :] – Mirek Kratochvil Apr 23 '11 at 12:13
Take a look at the hyperlink posted by Jefromi in the comment to my answer below. I was not aware of the possibility to integrate LilyPond with LaTeX. I think that this solution is what you are looking for. – Harold Cavendish Apr 23 '11 at 15:03
I think MusiXTeX has extensions for guitar tablature and guitar chord diagrams. – gniourf_gniourf Apr 23 '11 at 22:18

Are you searching for something like this? http://www.texample.net/tikz/examples/guitar-chords/

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Not exactly what I wanted, but seems that a little latex macro work can easily tune it to the state I need. Thanks very much! – Mirek Kratochvil Apr 25 '11 at 10:00

My recommendation is to use LilyPond, which I believe was formerly based on TeX. It is possibly the best solution you can get for free. The file in my comment to your question is said to be typeset in it. Here is another possible output with displayed chords.

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LilyPond seems like an excellent choice to me as well. There are also some very nice editors for it. – ipavlic Apr 23 '11 at 11:18
I believe LilyPond can be used along with LaTeX: lilypond.org/doc/v2.12/Documentation/user/lilypond-program/… – Jefromi Apr 23 '11 at 14:47
@Jefromi I have some experience with LilyPond, but I did not know this. Very useful for myself as well, thank you! – Harold Cavendish Apr 23 '11 at 15:04

In case anybody stumbles onto this question (like I just did):

I remembered having tried something like a tabulature with musixtex a little while ago. It is only a start and far from being perfect but shows that tabulatures can be done with a little effort.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{musixtex,graphicx}

% custom clef
\newcommand\TAB[1]{%
\setclefsymbol{#1}{\,\rotatebox{90}{TAB}}%
\setclef{#1}9}

% internal string choosing command
%  #1: string (a number from 1--6)
%  #2: finger
\makeatletter
\newcommand\@str[2]{%
\ifcase#1\relax\@strerror
\or\def\@strnr{-1}%
\or\def\@strnr{1}%
\or\def\@strnr{3}%
\or\def\@strnr{5}%
\or\def\@strnr{7}%
\or\def\@strnr{9}%
\else\@strerror
\fi
\zchar\@strnr{\footnotesize#2}}
% \@strerror could be defined to issue some warning/error

% User level commands
\newcommand\STr[2]{\@str{#1}{#2}\sk}  % with a full note skip
\newcommand\Str[2]{\@str{#1}{#2}\hsk} % with a half note skip
\newcommand\str[2]{\@str{#1}{#2}}     % with no skip
\makeatother
\begin{document}

\setlength\parindent{0pt}
\begin{music}
\instrumentnumber{1}
\nobarnumbers
\TAB1
\setlines1{6}
\startpiece
\Notes\hsk\STr37\en
\Notes\Str45\en
\Notes\Str55\en
\Notes\Str65\en
\bar
\Notes\str67\Str36\en
\Notes\Str45\en
\Notes\Str55\en
\Notes\Str67\en
\bar
\Notes\str68\Str35\en
\Notes\Str45\en
\Notes\Str55\en
\Notes\Str68\en
\bar
\Notes\Str34\en
\Notes\Str42\en
\Notes\Str53\en
\Notes\Str62\en
\bar
\Notes\Str33\en
\Notes\Str42\en
\Notes\Str51\en
\Notes\itieu0r\Str60\en
\bar
\Notes\ttie0\Str60\en
\Notes\Str51\en
\Notes\Str42\en
\Notes\Str33\en
\bar
\Notes\Str13\en
\Notes\Str20\en
\Notes\STr20\en
\bar
\Notes\STr20\en
\Notes\Str28\en
\Notes\STr27\en
\endpiece
\end{music}

\end{document}


Any one able to spot the song? ;)

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Not sure about the song, but this compiles just like the posted image on a full TeXLive 2014 installation. The only notable difference I see is that the end of the tab columns are open, perhaps because my default paper size is letter. – P Magunia Oct 21 '14 at 1:05
Correction to my previous comment:no notable difference (I wasn't using multiple passes to compile. – P Magunia Oct 24 '14 at 3:05
Is that Stairway to Heaven? It looks a bit off. – Greg d'Eon Feb 28 at 0:19
@Kynit it is :) – clemens Feb 28 at 1:58
@Gregd'Eon it is off indeed. A lot of people get the arpeggio wrong, they reverse it like in this tab.. :'( Nice song choice, though, clemens :D – Joffrey Apr 21 at 20:07

I recently wanted to recreate chord tablature sheets that my guitar teacher used to use in his lessons. They were basically a grid of small tables with 5 times 4 cells. These tables were then filled by hand with the chords I was supposed to remember. Creating these tables is a piece of cake but I wanted the possibility to add the chord schemes with LaTeX, adding position, fingers, barrés, specify the root etc. with an easy syntax. I also wanted a similarly easy syntax for creating tablatures of scales.

I did what I always do in these cases: I wrote me a little package, guitarchordschemes, (which I will upload to CTAN if you deem it useful) that allows to do that. Below are a few examples:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{guitarchordschemes}

\begin{document}

\chordscheme[
name     = Gmi\textsuperscript{7($\flat$5)} ,
position = IX ,
finger   = {3/4, 2/3, 3/2} ,
root     = {2/5} ,
mute     = {1,6}
]

\end{document}


\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{guitarchordschemes}

\begin{document}

\chordscheme[
name      = Gmi\textsuperscript{7($\flat$5)} ,
position  = IX ,
finger    = {3/4:3, 2/3:2, 3/2:4} ,
root      = {2/5:1} ,
show-root = {4/3} ,
mute      = {1,6}
]

\end{document}


\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage{guitarchordschemes}

\begin{document}

\scales[
name      = D major/position II ,
position  = I ,
fingering = type 3
]

\end{document}


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Have you tried with programs like GuitarPro 5? I'm sure you can export the tabs to pdf there...

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Yeah, the problem is that it's not really good for actual typesetting, especially if you're writing a textbook. – Mirek Kratochvil Apr 23 '11 at 12:12
Open source Tuxguitar which is similar to GuitarPro can export your work to lilypond format. – ipavlic Apr 23 '11 at 15:59
Tuxguitar export to lilypond seems pretty good, gonna consider it. Thanks. – Mirek Kratochvil Apr 25 '11 at 9:58