Don’t scour the net looking for guitar tabs for your favorite songs – create your own with Capo 3


You want to learn to play your new favorite song, so you start looking for guitar tabs for it on the internet.  Those tabs are only as good as the person who created them, though.  If you want to be sure you get the correct tabs, you need the Capo 3 app for Mac.  The app uses the audio-to-note approach to “listen” to any music file you have in your iTunes library.  It slows the music down, analyzes the sound to detect chords, and quickly creates guitar tabulature.  You can see a spectrogram, a visual representation of the frequencies of sound, of the song, so you can “see every nuance in the performance – the note bends, slides, and vibrato” to help you learn more about how it should be played.  Capo 3 is $29.99 in the Mac app store.

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14 comments… add one
  • Julie Strietelmeier October 8, 2013, 10:10 am

    Oh wow, I’m buying this when I get home from vacation. It will come in handy with my new Loog guitar.

  • Izzy October 8, 2013, 11:02 am

    Be careful before you spend your money, Julie. I just ran “The Number of the Beast” solo through the demo version it and it was no help at all – just a screen full of useless fuzz. I was sort of expecting it to TAB it automatically. Maybe if the demo version lasted more than 5 minutes (!) I could get my head around it – but after my 4.5 minutes I’m left with the impression that it simply doesn’t work whereas hunting for TABs online, together with a bit of work, does.

  • Janet Cloninger October 8, 2013, 11:10 am

    @Izzy It sounds like you need to “scrub” through the spectrogram to have it produce the tabs.

  • Izzy October 8, 2013, 11:13 am

    Janet – I think you’re right. The report says “creates guitar tablature”. I don’t think it does – I think it relies on you looking at the notes on the screen to work them out and then you create your own tab. Bit difficult if there are 3 guitars playing at the same time.

  • Janet Cloninger October 8, 2013, 11:15 am

    @Izzy I downloaded the demo for my husband to try tonight as I was writing this post. Based on what you’ve seen, I’m afraid he’s going to be as disappointed as you are. 🙁

    • Julie Strietelmeier October 8, 2013, 11:30 am

      I’ll decide if I want to try it once I hear Butch’s thoughts. It might not work very well for the Loog guitar since it just has 3 strings.

  • Izzy October 8, 2013, 11:29 am

    Janet – he only gets 5 minutes, so make sure he’s ready with the song he wants to try it with. Apparently there are videos and stuff on the Capo site that he might want to try first and I suggest he doesn’t pick Maiden or Metallica to start off with. Tabbing isn’t automatic – you have to look at the spectrum and the notes and work it out yourself.

    I think the company does itself no favours by having a 5 minute evaluation period. 5 minutes is just long enough to get annoyed at it not doing what was expected and walk away convinced that its rubbish.

    I hope your husband has more success than me.

  • Betty Widerski October 8, 2013, 11:44 am

    Unfortunately I can find no videos on the site, or on Youtube. The site says that the quickstart videos come with the app – @Izzy do they come with the demo version? If not that’s asking for a lot of faith from a buyer to get the app with no sample video.

  • Izzy October 8, 2013, 12:07 pm

    I’ve had a mail back from them. They say:

    “Capo gives you 5 minutes of audio passing through the system before it adds some white noise to the audio output stream as a gentle reminder to register. However, you’re free to quit and restart the app to start the timer again.”

    So the 5 minute thing is just an annoyance rather than a hard limit. I might try again later.

    Betty – there are videos with the demo version.

  • Chris Liscio October 8, 2013, 5:01 pm

    Hey folks,

    You can check out the tutorial videos on our vimeo channel here to get a sense for how this works:

    In particular, watch the Spectrogram and Tabbing videos for a quick walk-through.

    It’s not going to spit out tabs for you, but the process is incredibly easy!

    Also check out my promo video which has an overview of everything Capo does:

    • Julie Strietelmeier October 8, 2013, 5:13 pm

      @Chris Does your software work with other stringed instruments, or just guitars? What about guitars that only have 3 strings instead of 6?

  • Chris Liscio October 8, 2013, 5:29 pm


    We support a minimum of 4 strings, sorry!

    We currently have 4-, 5-, and 6-string Bass, Mandolin, Ukelele, and Banjo support in addition to Guitar. We have not received many requests outside that group, really.

  • Butch Cloninger October 9, 2013, 3:08 pm

    Took a quick look at the demo version last night. For those interested, demo appears fully functional, with the single “5 min at a time” limitation. Perfectly suitable for evaluation purposes.

    First, this is a really FUN tool to work with. The most interesting part to me is the spectral analysis. It’s fun to see the information hidden in this data. It’s good for confirming slides vs. bends in some of those can’t quite tell situations. Vibrato analysis was fun as well; guitar players seem very adept at classic vibrato, but some of the vocalists would drift over the duration of the note. Never really noticed that before.

    The process of working with the data to extract tabs was very well explained. It isn’t terribly complicated, but was time consuming. Perhaps over time I could develop agility at this, but not something I have bandwidth for at the current time. This is the kind of thing that I would have killed for in college.

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