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This feature - like many of FATpick's most interesting features - was inspired by a request from one of our users.
Thank you to Matt C. for the suggestion!

If you'd like to request a feature of your own you can contact us via the web here or use the in-app feedback form by clicking on the lightbulb icon in the upper-right corner of every screen in the FATpick desktop app. You can find other examples of feedback shared by FATpick users at FATpick.com.

Because the strings on the tab are listed in the opposite order that they appear when you are looking head-on at a guitar, it might seem like guitar tabs are "upside down" . The string at the bottom of the guitar - the thin high e string in standard tuning - is found at the top of the tab. The string at the top of the guitar - the fat low E string - is found at the bottom of the tab. This may feel a little counter-intuitive, but it is a convention that is widely followed. It's upside down when you are looking at a guitar in profile, but it feels more natural when you're actually holding your guitar. Reading from bottom to top, the strings on the tab appear in order from lowest (thickest) to highest (thinnest), reflecting the guitarist's perspective when looking down at the strings.

Tablature notation compared to real-world guitar orientation.
Guitar Orientation v. Tab: The conventional tablature notation lists the strings of a guitar from high to low. I.e., in the EADGBe tuning, the strings appear in the order e, B, G, D, A, E (reading from top to bottom). This order is upside-down compared to what you see when facing the guitar (from the "audience" perspective), but makes more sense from the perspective of the person actually playing the guitar (when you are looking down at the strings).
Also see How to Read Guitar Tabs for more information about tablature notation.

However, there are some cases in which you might want to flip that standard string order.

Bass tablature in FATpick's tab player - normal modeBass tablature in FATpick's tab player - strings flipped
Flip Strings on Tab: The same bass score as seen in FATpick's tab player, in normal mode (first) and with strings flipped (second).

Flipping will reverse the order in which the strings appear on the tablature. Normally in the standard EADGBe guitar tuning the thickest string (the low E string) appears at the bottom of the tab and the thinnest string (high E) appears at the top. When flipped, low E appears at the top and high E appears at the bottom. The notes in the song remain on the corresponding string such that "Flip Strings" effectively mirrors the tab transcription across a vertical axis.

Note that when flipped a badge appears on the track-mix-panel button to remind you of the changed tab. Also note that the thickness of the string-lines on the tab reflect the thickness of the corresponding string on your actual guitar. Normally the thinnest string-line appears at the top of the tab and the thickest at the bottom. When the strings are flipped the thickest line appears at the top, representing the thickest string on your guitar.

FATpick now offers that option. Enabling "flip strings" will reverse the order in which strings appear on the tablature, such that the typical EADGBe guitar tuning will be listed as eBGDAE (reading from bottom to top on the tab).

Motivations

But why would you want to do this? One obvious example is well known to left-handed guitarists:

  • Many lefties play a guitar specifically designed for left-handed guitarists; a mirror image of a right-handed guitar with the neck on the left and the body on the right. Truly left-handed guitars can be expensive or only available in limited selection, but Kurt Cobain was one such guitarist.

  • Other guitarists will re-string a right-handed guitar for playing left hand. Paul McCartney used this trick early in his career. In this case any guitar will do, and the strings are correct, but the body of the guitar is upside down (and the neck may not be designed for the stress of reversed-order strings).

  • Some left-handed guitarists do something a little more radical. They simply turn a right-handed guitar over and play it "upside down". In this case the strings are in the opposite order of normal (from bottom to top, eBGDAE rather than EADGBe), but it offers the advantage of being able to borrow any righty's guitar and play it as-is. This alternative is probably less common, but Jimi Hendrix for example made a career of playing exactly that way. Reversing the order in which the strings are listed on the tablature would mimic this orientation.

Matt's reasoning for the ability to flip the order of the strings on the tab was even more creative. Noting that the conventional mandolin tuning - GDAE is just an upside-down version of the regular bass tuning - EADG, Matt suggested that flipping the order of the strings on the tab would allow a mandolin player to play any bass part (more or less), radically expanding the number of tracks available for the instrument.

NOTE: To be more specific, the standard mandolin tuning is GGDDAAEE. A mandolin typically has 8 strings, but organized into identical pairs. Like a 12-string guitar, while there are technically 8 (or 12) strings, there are effectively only 4 (or 6) distinct strings as played, since the strings are almost always played in pairs.

The "Flip Strings" feature provides exactly that capability. It gives FATpick users the ability to reverse the order in which strings appear on the tab.

Enabling the "flip strings" control

Since this use case is a little bit obscure, the Flip Strings option is hidden by default. To reveal it, you must first enable "Show Flip Strings" from FATpick's Gameplay Settings menu.

Gameplay Settings: Show Flip Strings
Enabling "Show Flip Strings": To see the "Flip Strings" option in the song-settings/track-audio-mixer you must first enable the "Show Flip Strings option on tab player" toggle found under Gameplay Settings.

To enable the flip strings option for all tabs and songs:

  1. Click on the "cog" icon to open FATpick's main settings/preferences menu.
  2. Select "Gameplay Settings" from the settings menu.
  3. Enable the "Show Flip Strings on tab player" option at the bottom of the game settings menu.

Note that this won't actively flip the string order on any of the tabs yet. Enabling this setting just exposes the control that you can use to flip the strings on a song-by-song basis. (See below.)

Flipping the order of strings on the tab

Once "Show Flip Strings" is enabled, a new toggle switch will be visible on the track-mixer / song-settings control panel available on the main tab viewer or gameplay screen.

This new option - labelled "Flip Strings" - will reverse the order in which the strings appear on the tab when enabled. Simple switch the toggle button to the on position to flip the order of the strings - effectively mirroring the tab vertically - and switch it back to the off position to return to the original (default) orientation.

Track Mixer: Flip Strings
Flip Strings: Once "Show Flip Strings option on tab player" is enabled you will find a "Flip Strings" toggle button in the track-mixer panel for each song.
Like the playback rate and other settings, this option is set on per-song basis and is sticky across both song-play and application sessions.

For example, for a song transcribed into tablature for a guitar in the standard EADGBe tuning, reading from top to bottom the strings on the tab will be listed from high to low pitch. The thinnest-gauge, "high e" string (E4) will be first, followed by B3 (usually a similar gauge), then G3, etc., until we reach the thickest-gauge "low E" (E2) string at the bottom. Enabling "Flip Strings" will reverse this order such that the E2 string is at the top of the tab and the E4 string is at the bottom. It's as if the guitar was tuned to eBGDAE rather than EADGBe, however the individual notes of the song will move with the string. (See the example above for a visualization.)

Note that:

  • The "Flip Strings" setting applies to individual songs. Flipping the tabs for one song will not impact the order in which the strings appear in other songs. You must (or may) configure the tab orientation for each song independently.

  • Like the playback rate and track-audio options found in the mixer control panel, the Flip Strings setting is "sticky". If you enable this option for a given song, exit the application, and then return to the same song in a later session, the Flip Strings setting you last used for that song will be automatically restored.

  • The Flip Strings property applies to all the tracks in a song. That is, if you change the orientation of the strings for a given track in the song, that orientation will continue to be active if or when you switch to another track in the same song.

  • The "Restore Default Track Mix" option at the bottom of the mixer will revert the Flip Strings setting to the standard orientation (among other settings that are reverted by this action).

  • If you happen to open a song with the sticky Flip Strings setting turned on when the "Show Flip Strings" setting is turned off, the Flip Strings toggle will still appear in the track mixer. This is to provide you with the option to restore the standard orientation for songs that may have been customized.

  • A badge appears on the "open track mixer" button at the top of the screen whenever "Flip Strings" is active.

  • The "Flip Strings" setting also carries over to the track heat map and fretboard/scale charting tools.

  • However the "Flip Strings" setting does NOT apply to the print tab representation of the song (or at least not yet).

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