Rapid Tab from Secret Base Design

Rapid Tab listens to the notes you play on your guitar or bass, and transforms them into tab notation. You keep your hands on your instrument and play, and the app does the hard work for you. No need to scramble to find a pencil and paper every time you figure out a riff, there's an app for that.

The app combines a fast and precise instrument tuner with all the features you'd expect in a modern word processor. The notes are jotted down automatically, and you can edit them too. You can also use the app to control MIDI synthesizers and samplers. The notes you record into tab can be played back with taps on the screen, to capture a perfectly timed take in your DAW. You can also export the tab in MIDI format, print as a PDF, or as MusicXML for apps like GuitarPro.

Pitch detection works on a single note at a time, you'll need to have your instrument in tune, and play clean and slow -- no Malmsteen shredding or Steve Vai whammy bar insanity. We recommend using the bridge pickup, having the tone knob all the way up, and a bit of palm mute to keep strings from ringing, which can trigger unwanted notes.

The app is easy to use, and works with any CoreAudio compliant interface; we use interfaces from Apogee, Focusrite, Line 6, and Zoom at the Secret Base, and they are all fantastic. Any electric guitar or bass should be compatible. We do not recommend using the iPad or iPhone microphone, or interfaces that use the headphone jack; the audio signal is not clean enough for fast and accurate pitch detection.

Connecting Your Instrument

If you're new to using iOS audio apps and interfaces, don't be intimidated. It all works easily. Plug your guitar into the audio interface, using a standard 1/4" cable, and then plug the other end of the cable into the interface.

The interface should have a lightning cable plug that you insert into your iPad or iPhone, and the interface will be recognized automatically. Your interface may also have headphone jack -- audio out from your iPad or iPhone will be routed the the headphone jack automatically as well.

Tuning Up

The app features a high performance tuner, which uses the full frequency spectrum of the incoming sound to determine the note you're playing -- there's a lot of details in how it all works, which we cover in the video.

Creating a New Song

Recording Notes From Your Guitar

Once you've got your instrument set up and in tune, you can start to catch the notes you play. Turn on pitch detection, and toggle over to the tab screen. Tap the record button, and the notes that you play on the guitar will be recorded into a riff.

When you've gotten the riff down, turn off record, and you can edit the tab to fix any notes that were not detected correctly.

Tap the "new riff" button to create a new line of tab; you can switch between riffs with the list. Swiping opens up the standard iOS delete functionality for a riff.

Using the In-App Fretboard

Editing Tabs

The Internal Synth Engine

Connecting to MIDI

Alternate Tunings

Exporting MIDI Files

Exporting PDF

Exporting MusicXML

Playing Tips for Best Results

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