Nick Kleeman, an avid guitar player who also dabbles in the mandolin, ukulele and accordion, was unhappy with the available online resources for musicians seeking guitar tablatures. Ask any guitarist, and you'll hear complaints about tab sites that are bogged down with excessive amounts of pop-up ads and poor organization. Kleeman's own frustration led to his creation of WikiTabs, which launched this month.
“You’re trying to play a song [on guitar] and a video will start blaring music,” he says, referring to a typical tab site. “Plus, there are a billion versions of every song out there, and they’re all on different pages. You have to navigate around to find the one that works best for you."
Kleeman notes that these tabs are submitted to sites by users. “But once they’re posted, they can’t be edited.” He desired a more user-friendly, interactive alternative, envisioning a site that could be edited by the community that uses it, along the lines of Wikipedia.
Kleeman says he coincicentally found himself with an unusually large amount of data on his hands after collecting a sizable amount of guitar tabs for an upcoming sailing trip. Realizing he could upload that data on a platform that allowed for user editing, he enlisted his older brother Alex for help with the programming and setup of his new tab site.
“Users can cut down on the extraneous versions and improve on the versions that are there,” he says, explaining how he expects to avoid clutter. “Ultimately, we’ll end up with a collection of nearly perfect tabs.”
According to its founder, the WikiTabs database includes tabs for 360,000 songs, often with multiple versions of each title.
Users are required to create a unique login in order to make edits. This means Kleeman will be able to oversee what tabs go up on the site to block any potential vandalism. Smaller changes will go live almost immediately, while larger ones will require his approval. He plans to monitor the site himself to start, then hopes to enlist volunteers from the WikiTabs community to help him police it.