I remember when my mom used to teach me piano and I always struggled to read both the bass and treble clef at the same time. For some reason my 10-year old brain just couldn't grasp the difference between those lower notes and the melody I was hearing on the higher keys.
Yes the grand staff was tremendously confusing to me. Though, as I would later discover, it was also a necessary part of notation development and music theory, even outside of the piano disciplines that I initially found so frustrating.
Moreover, the grand staff is really quite simple.
In its most typical form it has the treble clef at the top and the bass clef at the bottom. Hence the following "staff meeting" cartoon:
In the context of a guitar and bass relationship, we can use the treble clef for our acoustic or electric guitar and the bass or "F clef" for our bass guitar. Once we know how to set this up, it's helping for writing and recording our own music.
In this tutorial I'll show you how to use Guitar Pro 7 to build a grand staff that will include both proper notation and a tab sheet. However, instead of piano, we'll be using the treble clef for guitar and the bass clef for a four string bass guitar, which means we'll need to set it up in Guitar Pro 7 to reflect that usage.
This tutorial assumes you have access to the Guitar Pro 7 software, which can be downloaded here for Windows or Mac platforms.
Setting Up Your Song
Whenever you open a new file in Guitar Pro 7 you have to setup your instrument(s) for the song you're going to build. From the initial screen select "New File" under the "PLAY & EDIT" section.
This will open up the "Add Track" dialogue box, which will allow you to select your instrument for audio playback. I've gone with the default selection of a steel string acoustic guitar.
The notation options are provided under what should now be listed as the "Steel Settings" section. They show up in the form of five total buttons, with one grouping of three and a second grouping of two.
You'll want to make sure the first, second and fifth boxes are selected and highlighted in a light blue color. That should give you the following elements in your score:
- Tab notation
- Standard notation
- Grand staff (upper and lower)
That fifth selection is the "grand staff" button which will setup your sheet with two clefs for each bar of music.
You'll notice that there are now two different tuning options, one for the upper staff and one for the lower staff. Leave the upper staff as-is and select the four-string bass option for the lower staff.
Once you click the "Create" button, the following score and tab combinations are added to your project:
You'll notice that you've got a six-string tab on top and a four-string "bass" tab on the bottom, both with an accompanying ledger. However, the ledger on the bottom defaults to a treble clef, which you can leave if you're only going to use the tab sheet. If you prefer to change it to a bass clef, here's how to do it:
Now you've got a treble and bass clef where you can track tabs for both a guitar and bass line. Here's a simple example (with audio beneath the tab sheet) using the G, C, Em and D chord progression.
Notice that in the treble clef I've used whole notes for each chord, while the F clef uses quarter notes for a somewhat more dynamic bass line.
What if I want the bass to be a separate track?
In the example I've provided, the acoustic guitar and the bass guitar are both under the same track, therefore in the audio playback they both sound like an acoustic guitar. To add a separate track for bass, which will allow you to use a distinct sound for audio playback purposes, you'll need to set things up a little differently.
Notice that this is only relevant if you're interested in using the audio playback feature. Even then, it's not totally necessary. The notes produced in our previous example are still "bass" notes. They just sound more like an acoustic guitar tuned really low.
Creating a separate track for each instrument simply allows you to add individual audio properties to each one.
Create a New Track with Just the Treble Clef
You'll need to create a new track with just the treble clef, using whatever sound you prefer. Your new project should look like this with a single, empty treble clef and guitar tab combo:
Adding the Bass Track
Now, go up to "TRACK" in main menu and select "Add." This will bring up the instrument interface we mentioned earlier. From that interface, select your bass instrument sound and make sure that the "Upper Staff" drop down menu is set to your standard bass tuning.
Once you click "Create" you'll notice that the bass track shows up with the proper bass clef, but is in its own window, illustrated in the screenshot below:
If you notice at the bottom of the window, in the tracks and mixing section, you've now got two instruments listed (in my case, Steel Guitar and Electric Bass) which allows you to easily cycle back and forth between both your guitar and bass tabs. There's also a control that allows you to adjust the "Master" output of the entire song.
If you want to view and edit both tracks on your screen at the same time, one on top of the other, just go to the "View" option in the main menu and select "Multitrack." Alternatively, you can press F3 to cycle between Multi and single track viewing modes.
Here's what it looks like with both tracks listed in the multi-track view mode:
Now you can edit both tracks just like we did in the previous example, but with different sounds and instruments applied to each one. Here's an example I came up with that uses the same chord progression and bass line as before, but with different sounds applied to each track:
You can hear the difference in volume and tone between each track.
Again, if you don't care about the audio, separating each instrument out into different tracks might not be necessary. Just know that it's an option with Guitar Pro 7.
The important thing is to know how to make use of the grand staff and create more professional tabs that allow you to incorporate bass lines to go along with your chord progressions and melodies.
It's the most complete and "correct" way to build tablature alongside standard notation.
Have questions about this particular issue regarding Guitar Pro 7? Maybe just questions about the software in general?
Leave it in the comments section below and I'll do my best to answer.
This is preferable to sending an email since, assuming a dialogue in the comments section, future readers can benefit.