Guitar Music to Guitar TAB

• Jun 27, 2022 - 05:44
Reported version
S3 - Major
by design
  1. open a .mscz file of guitar music.
  2. add instrument (classical guitar) to convert to TAB

-When doing so, the TAB is empty.
-One "workaround" was suggested to copy music first, then paste it into file after TAB spot is created.
-This sort of works, but its the wrong octave. The Tab is completely unplayable.
0Guitar notation is written an octave higher than it sounds at concert pitch compared to the piano (and other standard instruments). This means that the guitar is a transposing instrument, because its notes sound one octave lower than they are actually notated on a score.
MuseScore should know this and account for it.
-It should be straightforward to convert guitar music to guitar tab. It is not. Its pretty much impossible.
-Would greatly appreciate any solution!


Status active by design

That score is not for Guitar, but for Voice and apparently the result of a PDF import.
For turning it into a Guitar score you'd need to a) change the instrument to Guitar (or add a Guitar) and b) (copy/paste, then) transpose down an octave (and fix the clef), then c) add a linked tablatur staff, d) remove the nonsensical 3/4 time sig (reinstate the end repeat barline), e) fix the nonsensical voltas , see attached

None of what you describe seems a bug. More like shortcomings of the PDF import

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Ah, I see yours now... well that it not what happened when I do it. I showed you what happens when I do it, namely first blank tab and second after many attempts to copy paste I get tab that it starting 12 frets away from where it should be.
Please share how you got yours to work because it doesnt here.
Here is another file I've been unsuccessfully trying to convert.

PS Its very buggy to paste. It almost never works... I have to try 100 times Is there a specific place where I am supposed to click so it will paste? If so where? Its very frustrating.
Why do I have to paste anyway? Isn't it simply supposed to add the tab?
When I transpose down an octave, it moves the music down an octave but leaves the tab where its at up high in silly places. Urgh...

I didn't use copy and paste.
And the PDF import is an experimental service from the website, which isn't dealt with here on That service uses Audiveris. And yes it does have it's shortcomings

The steps you describe do not work for me.
1. copy / paste function hardly ever works (even when pulling from the menu bar.
2. transposition moves the music down an octave but leaves tab where its at.
3. .pdf import was done from the musescore website and was deemed "successful"

In short... these are lots of problems with trying to convert guitar music to guitar tab. It should be simple and straightforward. it is not. 3 days later and it is still not working for me.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

This is indeed a very big shortcoming of musescore.
Copy / paste function does not work. Why is there a need for copy / paste anyway?
Transposition does not work. Why is there a need for transposition?

Despite following your steps carefully, I am still not able to even get to any even remotely readable Tab.
This is a big bug / shortcoming of musescore that they should fix.

I'm using the same version
Why is there a need for transposition?
Because guitar is an octave transposing instrument. This is something a PDF converter can't know.

In reply to by jbanzi

There is no special version of MuseScore. I work with TAB all the time and there is no problem with copy/paste nor with transposition.

The guitar is a transposing instrument, in that the actual pitch of the played notes is 1 octave lower than the written notes, (compared to piano), because this keeps the notes within a manageable vertical position of the single-clef guitar stave. Otherwise there would be so many ledger !Ines that the score would be unreadable.

Hence you need to transpose a piano score when starting with a PDF scan. Alternatively, set up a guitar score and copy the music manually.

Frequency Once Many

copy /paste function does not work except after 101 tries. Please give me a work around. I am telling you again and again it does not work.
Transposing function only transposes the music and leaves the Tab as it is (up an octave).
I would like to see the guitar score with the appropriate Tab score. Not a piano score that is up an octave.
Like many guitarists, I have a guitar score. This program should allow me to open a guitar score without jumping through hoops and barrels.

Frequency Many Once

You do not have a guitar score (and you're all but one), you do have PDF that you want to transfer into a guitar score. The PDF import is not dealt with here.

@jbanzi The score you have uploaded above is NOT a guitar score. However, I have downloaded it and converted it to TAB with standard MuseScore. I have not fixed any time signatures or voltas but the whole process took about 20 seconds and worked exactly as outlined by Jojo above.

If you're still having trouble then you need to provide a step-by-step breakdown of exactly what you are doing, and at which step it goes wrong.


Maybe you could submit a feature request for "Paste with Transpose" to achieve this process in a single step. I think that TablEdit has a similar option when importing MIDI files.

Like Yonah, I can confirm, Jojo's instructions provide the answer. And below I've expanded on his advice with some additional detail.

But the first question is: Do you want linked tablature (where you don't have to copy/paste) i.e. where a change made in either staff immediately affects the other.

If so, I recommend that you:

a) expect a bit of a learning curve
b) try not to conclude that the software is at fault ; read the cited handbook sections on tablature—unfortunately they are not particularly easy to follow at present.
c1) open the Staff Properties dialog (right click the the treble clef staff and chose Staff Properties from the contextual menu)
      c2 click the change Instrument button and choose one of the Guitar instruments, but NOT guitar tablature
d1) if you want a linked staff, open the Instrument dialog and delete your existing tablature staff
     d2) in the Instrument dialog select Staff 1 of the Guitar instrument
     d3) click the Add Linked Staff button
     d4) in the Staff Type column select Tab-6str.-simple, or Tab-6str.-common or Tab-6str.-full (if you don't choose a tablature option you just see another treble clef staff when you close the dialog.)
     d5) click OK to close the dialog
e) back in the score, select all (or just the treble clef staff) and transpose notes down one octave (Control/Command ↓). That fixes octave issue in both staves, and fixes the fret numbering in the linked tablature. However the treble clef will look wrong until you fix the clef.
f) fix the clef: Change the clef from treble clef to treble clef 8vb bassa. (This is standard for guitar, but sometimes not shown in print)


In reply to by jbanzi

@jbanzi Why do I have to paste anyway?

You're score contains an unlinked tablature staff. The only way to populate is via copy/paste, as the Handbook explains. Pasting to the Tab staff gives surprising tablature because the source treble clef notation is actually and octave too high ... even though it "looks right" on a regular treble clef staff.

@jbanzi Isn't it simply supposed to add the tab?

That's your choice. With an unlinked tablature staff you have to manage and update it via copy/paste

If you want automatic tablature you have to add a linked staff. Since it sounds like you want the advantages of a linked staff I've outlined how to set that up.