The first thing you need to do is make sure you have a brand new file to work on. When you launch TuxGuitar, you should already have a blank tablature document ready for editing. However, if you need to start over with another blank document, all you have to do is click the “New” button (highlighted in red below).
Wow. That was easy. Now that we have blank document, we just need to set up our first track. Then the real fun can begin.
At the bottom of the screen, you should see a track list window that will look like the one below.
The track list is a very useful yet compact information center which provides quick access to many of the most important aspects of your song. There is a lot to be said about the track list, but we will not dig too deep into it right now, lest we should confuse newcomers. So for now, let it suffice to say that the track window will help us stay organized while we edit our tablature.
As you have probably noticed, there is already one track ready for you when you start a new tab document. You can just think of tracks as instruments. If you have a song with two guitars and one bassline that need transcribing, you will need three tracks. Fairly simple concept. It gets better though: as long as you have a soundbank installed for your Java Virtual Machine, each track will play back a sound when you play the file in TuxGuitar. Now, let’s get into setting this up, because as you can see, our first track wants to play back piano sounds, and we’re certainly not using TuxGuitar for piano.
So: double-click anywhere on “Track 1” or “Piano” to open the track properties dialog, as seen below.
The Properties dialog is where we will go to setup how we want each track to playback. There are three main sections in the Properties box, and they are laid out as follows (red boxes added for clarity):
Whatever you type in the box here is what will show up in the track list we looked at earlier. As you can see, we have named our track “Rhythm Guitar,” but you can name it anything you like. You can also set the color the track will display in the track list.
This is the sound that your track will play back from your jvm soundbank. Most soundbanks have a plethora of sounds which go far beyond just guitars, so be as creative as you want. Don’t expect the sound quality to be too superb, though. In most cases, these sounds will be less than “realistic”. This is really only for referencing purposes. (It is possible to have this trigger other, possibly better sounds via the tuxguitar-alsa plugin, but that is a lesson for another day, and perhaps another author.)
You can also check “Percussion Track” to have it play drum sounds if you wish to include them in the tabs.
*A side note on the instrument settings section: If you are not able to change this setting, you probably have a soundbank problem. This issue has been covered in the TuxGuitar forums as well as in the main documentation, so check there for help.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You can set the number of strings for your instrument (i.e. 4 if you’re a bass player, 3 if you’re in The Presidents of The United States of America) and the tuning of the instrument, in case you use alternate tunings. It is important to make sure you have your tuning correct, or else the actual score staff of your tabs will be inaccurate, and nobody wants that.
Once you have everything set to your liking, click OK. Now, if you look at your track list again, you will see that your changes have taken affect. And with that, you are ready to start editing tabs with sound.