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About this page

This page is the official documentation reference for Tabber. For efficiency reasons, it has been organized as a FAQ list.

Question list

  1. About the program

  2. User interface

  3. Settings

  4. Printing

  5. Development

  6. Miscellaneous


  1. About the program

    What is Tabber?

    Tabber is a free guitar tablature editor for Windows.

    It uses simple text files to store tablatures, similar to the ones you can find on the Online Guitar Archive (

    The idea behind Tabber is that, in author's opinion, the most convenient tool to edit guitar tablatures is Windows' notepad. However, notepad lacks a few functionalities such as staff insertion, predefined chords and so on. Tabber's modest aim is to provide these few functionalities to a classic text editor.

    Is Tabber free? Is Tabber open-source?

    Tabber is completely free for download, usage and redistribution.

    Free meaning, you do not have to pay to use it and also, you are free to share, redistribute and modify the program.

    Tabber is also open-source, which means that anyone can have full access to application source code (see the download section of the website)

    Tabber is published under the GNU Public Licence, a lot of complicated words just to say that, you can modify and redistribute your modified version, free of charge, as long as this version also remains free/under GPL.

    Where can I download Tabber?

    Try the official website:

    What are the system requirements?


    I cannot really stand on that point, but as far as I can tell, Tabber has been successfully compiled and run on a K6-333Mhz with 64Mb RAM and Windows 98 (a very small system, most modern systems are way faster)

    How do I install/uninstall Tabber?

    Tabber does not require any complex install/uninstall operations.

    The program is usually shipped in a zip archive, containing the program itself (Tabber.exe) and a few configuration files. To install just decompress the archive in any directory you like.

    To uninstall, just delete the program and the configuration files. Tabber performs no operations on Windows' registry base.

    What are those *.ini files? Can I delete them? Can I customise them?

    These are the configuration files used by Tabber.

    In theory, the program is stand-alone, which means that the only file needed is Tabber.exe. However, a lot of useful predefined chords and tunings are provided in the *.ini files, so this is a good idea to keep them. If not present they will be created with (very few) default values.

    You can edit those files by hand (using any editor, including Tabber, refer to this question), for instance if you want to change the order of chord buttons. The changes you make will be effective on program restart.

    What file extensions does Tabber use?

    Any one you like, as long as they refer to plain text files.

    *.crd and *.tab are commonly used, so I guess you may stick with those.

    Is Tabber available in my language?

    Tabber is ready to be localised in any language. For now it's available in French and English (see the download section of the website)

    You may volunteer to translate the program (and/or its documentation) in your language, refer to this question in the Development section of this document.

    How do I report bugs? How can I make feature requests?

    By mail (instructions here)

    Please try to be precise and specific when reporting your bug, and do not forget to mention the operating system used and the version involved (alpha, beta, release...)

    All feature requests and suggested improvements will be studied.

    How can I help?

    By testing and reporting bugs, by translating the program and documentation in other languages (see the above remarks), by testing the source code and publishing your patches and modifications (see Development section)

    What if my question is not answered here?

    Ask it by mail (instructions here)

  2. User interface

    What are all those buttons and stuff?

    The buttons and menus at the top of the window correspond to most classic text editor functionalities, such as open/save, print, search and so on.

    What are those tabs at the bottom of the window?

    The buttons at the bottom of the window correspond to Tabber's specific functionalities. Because of their number, those buttons have been organized in tabs.

    The very first tab's buttons are related to staffs. The other tabs are related to chords.

    What are the use of Insert Something buttons and menus?

    Insert staff adds a new and empty staff at cursor position or, if cursor is already inside a staff, just below the current staff.

    Insert bar adds a vertical bar at cursor position. This is only available inside staffs.

    Insert tuning adds the currently selected guitar tuning at the beginning of current staff. This is only available inside staffs.

    What is the use of those chord named buttons (E, Am, F#...)?

    By clicking one of those buttons, the corresponding chord is added at cursor position inside current staff.

    If the Add chord name setting is checked, chord name will also be added just above the staff.

    Pressing Shift or Control while clicking a chord button will insert an ascending or descending arpeggio.

    Why does an error/exception message pop up? What is that Debug Trace window that just appeared?

    Congratulations, you have just discovered a bug :)

    Please report this bug by sending an e-mail (instructions here), explaining briefly what you were doing when the message appeared.

    Cursor is inside a staff but Tabber still disables staff operations. Why is that?

    Tabber uses specific algorithms to guess whether cursor is inside a staff or not. Sometimes those algorithms may simply go wrong :( Improvements on this point are in progress.

    Undo/Redo sometimes does not seem to work.

    This is a current limitation of predefined undo/redo function provided by Windows (you have the same limitation in notepad, for instance).

    I am aware of the problem and I am working on a specific undo/redo function for Tabber.

  3. Settings

    What do Staff width/height settings correspond to?

    Staff width is the number of characters per line used in staffs.

    Staff height is the number of lines used in each staff. Typically 6 for guitars, 4 for bass guitars.

    What does Guitar tuning setting correspond to?

    This is the tuning added at the beginning of staffs.

    In the submenu you may select one of the predefined tunings. If you do not want any tuning to be added, just select None.

    What are the Chord insertion options?

    Add extra space adds an additional blank character after every chord that is inserted in a staff.

    Add chord name adds the chord name just above the staff, when inserting a chord.

    What does the Font setting correspond to?

    The font selected here is used for both display and printing.

    You may only select fixed-width fonts (monospace fonts) such as Courier or Lucida, otherwise the tabs would not be readable.

    What does Typing mode setting correspond to?

    You may use Insert/Overwrite typing modes, which correspond to the same typing modes available in many other editors.

    Another Special mode, specific to guitar tablatures, can also be selected. See description below.

    Why is typing behaving strangely? What is that Special typing mode?

    This typing mode has been designed specifically for guitar tabs.

    When you are outside a staff, it behaves just like the Insert typing mode. Inside a staff, each typed note adds a blank character on the other lines of the staff. This also works for backspace.

    What are those files that can be edited in Advanced settings?

    Those files define the chords and guitar tunings used in Tabber.

    You can modify those file directly using inside Tabber. The changes you make will be effective on program restart.

    The syntax used is quite simple, use [group name] to define a new chord group, use Name=xxxxxx to define a new chord:

    • The character 'x' is invisible: it is replaced by a blank when the chord is interted.
    • If chord consists in single characters notes, just put the notes altogether in a row like this: 123456 or EAGDBe
    • If chord consists in multiple characters notes, separate the notes with commas like this: 8,9,10,11,12,13 or D#,A,G,D#,B,e
  4. Printing

    How does Tabber print pages?

    Tabber tries to print tablatures in a smart way.

    It checks if staffs are not located at the bottom of pages, in order to avoid page breaks inside staffs.

    Tabber does not wrap lines at the end of a page, so be careful if your staffs are too large.

    The printing font is the same font used for display.

  5. Development

    What language/software/IDE has Tabber been written/developed/compiled with?

    Tabber has been written in C++, using the native Win32 functions.

    It has been developed with Dev-C++ (

    It has also been successively compiled with Microsoft's Visual C++ 6.0

    How do I compile the sources?

    Download the source package and then:

    • with Dev-C++ open the project file and press F9
    • with Visual-C++ open the Tabber.dsw project file and press F7

    See remarks in utilities.h to enable/disable debugging

    How do I make suggestions / report potential bugs / post patches / publish modifications?

    By mail (instructions here)

    I would be glad if you send me your modifications instead of publishing them on your own, so that all the users may benefit your changes.

    How do I translate Tabber in my language?

    Please contact me by mail (instructions here) to get full instructions.

  6. Miscellaneous

    Who should I ask precisions? How do I contact the author?

    Use e-mail, exclusively. Replace the at part by an arobase in the following adress:

    mail_tabber at