Liner Notes
Red Guitar Pick
The FATpick Blog

There are hundreds of songs - and thousands of tabs - that you can play almost instantly from within the FATpick application. The in-app search engine is your tool for discovering them.

The song search can be used to browse, search, filter and sort through all of the songs in the library. To begin your search, click the "Play" button at the top of the main application menu.

The Search Form

A redesigned - and more powerful - search interface was introduced in release v2.4.7. The new design is a little cleaner - and organized a bit more rationally - but most importantly it provides much more direct and precise control over the sorting and filtering criteria.

Song Search Form
The song search form with free-text search over title, artist and album, facets for sorting and filtering based on your personal relationship and play-history with the songs; and controls for filtering the song list based on track/tab attributes.

The different aspects of the search form are described in detail in the sections that follow.

Below that, you can find a brief overview of the search results (song list) section of the interface.

At the top of the search form is a large text field that supports a free-text search by song title, artist name or album title - in any combination.

Simply enter the keywords you'd like to search on and the song list will automatically update as you type to reflect the matching entries.

The query is matched against all three fields simultaneously. For example, searching on "night" might pull up all of the following matches:

  • Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" - matching on song title.

  • Songs by the band Night Ranger - matching on artist name.

  • Songs from the Killing Joke album Night Time - matching on album title.

When a free-text query is provided, the song list is sorted by relevance by default, however this ordering may be overridden by the New and Recent song search facets (which see).

Both substring match and stemming logic is applied to the free-text search. E.g., songs by Nirvana are matched by the query "nir" (substring matching) and the keyword "run" may find songs that contain similar words like "running" or "ran" (stemming).

But if we're being perfectly honest the stemming and other related-keyword logic is pretty rudimentary right now so you may want to try a few variations if you think the song or artist you're looking for may be listed under different spellings. E.g., if you're looking for the band R.E.M. you may want to check both "REM" and "R.E.M.".

Some Additional Notes

  • The song list will automatically update as you type your query. You can also hit ENTER or click the magnifying glass icon to submit your search.

  • Very short queries – currently fewer than 2 characters – will be ignored. You must type at least 2 characters in the search field (or clear the field entirely) before song list will update.

  • Your current query will be remembered for the duration of the app session. Each time you return to the search view your previously entered keywords will still be active.

  • Use the X button found at the left of the input field to clear your search terms (while preserving your song facets and track filtering criteria.) Use the Clear Search Criteria button to reset both your search terms and any other active filtering and sorting criteria.

  • The text search is currently case-insensitive. Each of "EAGLES", "eagles", "eAgLeS", and so on will yield equivalent results.

Song Search Facets

Just below the main text field is a row of "toggle buttons" that can be used to sort or filter the search results based attributes of your song library and play history. These sorting and filtering criteria are applied on top of the query term matching and other options. For instance you can enable the "recent" search facet in addition to your keyword search to view the list of songs that match your query sorted by the order in which you've most recently played each song.

Song Facet Buttons - Inactive, Active, Inverted States
Faceted search buttons for sorting and filtering based on play history and personal song library. Showing modal states: inactive (top), active (middle), and negated/inverted (bottom).

Each button is "modal". Clicking on the button will toggle the facet between one of three states:

  1. Inactive / Ignored - The default state. When a facet is inactive it is ignored. It has no impact on the search results.

  2. Active / Included - In the active state, search results are filtered to only include songs that match the specified criterion. For example when the Favorites facet is active, only those songs that you have tagged as a favorite will appear in the search results. Note that when a facet is in the active state it will be filled with the primary theme color and the little circle on the left side of the button will be filled with a checkmark.

  3. Negated / Excluded - In the negated state, search results are filtered to exclude songs that match the specific criterion. For example when the Favorites facet is negated, only those songs that you have NOT tagged a favorite will appear in the search results. When a facet is in the negated state the button is filled a secondary alternate theme color and the circle on the left side of the button is filled with an X.

Keep clicking on the button to cycle through the different states.

The current search form (as of release v2.4.7) includes four song facets, as described below:

Facet: New

The "New" facet doesn't filter the search results, but it changes the order in which the songs appear in the list.

Specifically, when this facet is active songs will be listed in the reverse chronological order in which they were added (or shared) to the FATpick library. That is, the most recently added song will appear first and the least recently added song will appear last.

Negating the New facet reverses the order of that sort. When in the negated state, the least recently added song will appear first and the most recently added song will be last in the list.

Since new songs are added to FATpick virtually every day, the new facet is a good way to discover them. Conversely, with nearly 500 songs already in the archive, there's probably some hidden gems you've missed. The least-recently-added sort is a good way to go spelunking for those older tabs.

Facet: Recent

Like "New", the "Recent" facet will sort rather than filter the song list.

Specifically, when this facet is active songs are sorted in the reverse chronological order in which you last played the song. Your most recently played song will be first in the list. Your least recently played song - possibly a song you've never played before - will appear last in the list.

Negating the Recent facet flips the direction of the sort such that your least recently played song is first and your most recently played song is last.

Activating the recent facet is handy way to access the songs you've been working on recently. Incidentally, sorting by least-recently-played is a good way to discover songs you haven't seen before, or at least not for a long time.

Facet: My Songs

The "My Songs" facet will filter the song list to include (or exclude) the songs that you have personally imported into FATpick.

Activate My Songs to view a list of the songs in your personal FATpick library - any songs you've uploaded, both shared and private.

Negate My Songs to remove your custom songs from the listing and see only those songs that have been shared by other users.

Facet: Favorites

You can bookmark any song in FATpick - your own songs and songs shared by others - by clicking on the heart icon found in the search results list and elsewhere in the app. The "Favorites" facet is used to show or hide those bookmarked songs.

When the Favorites facet is active, only the songs you've tagged as a favorite will appear in the search results.

When the facet is negated, the songs you've bookmarked will be excluded from the search results.

Filtering by Track

While the search screen presents a list of songs the fundamental unit of performance in FATpick - the musical score you play along with in the tab player - isn't a song but a track. Most songs in FATpick - currently over 80% of the songs in the public catalog - contain the tablature for more than one track, where a track represents a specific instrument or part of the overall song.

For example, an individual song might include a tabs for the melody (vocals transcribed for guitar), tabs for both rhythm and lead guitar, and a bass guitar tab. Each of these tracks can be independently performed in the tab player. The track mixer is used to select the specific track that you want to see - and that you want to play along with - in the tab player.

Below the search facet buttons you will find a set of controls that can be used to filter the song list based on the characteristics of individual tracks.

When one or more of these filters is active, only those songs that contain at least one track that matches the specified criteria will appear in the song list.

When more than one of these filters is active, only those songs that contain at least one track that matches all of the specified criteria will appear. That is, if you select both an instrument type (say "5-String Bass") and a difficulty level (say "Advanced") then only those songs that contain at least one advanced-level tab for 5-string bass will appear in the search results. There may be other songs with advanced-difficulty tracks, or other songs with 5-string bass parts, but a song is only listed if it includes a track that is both advanced-level and transcribed for a 5-string bass. In short, all the track-level filtering criteria are ANDed together and each must apply to an individual track within the song.

Instrument Type

The instrument type filter is used to limit your results to those songs that contain tracks designed for a given class of instrument like guitar, bass or ukulele or a more specific instrument designation like 7-string guitar or 5-string bass.

Use this control to filter the song list by:

  • general class of instrument - e.g. guitar vs. bass vs. uke vs. etc.
  • string-count - e.g,. any 4-string instrument whether bass or ukulele
  • by both at once - e.g., specifically 5-string guitar tabs rather than tabs for other types of guitar or tabs for other non-guitar instruments that happen to have 5 strings

Filtering by Track Instrument Type or String Count
The Instrument Type Track Filter: Select an item from the list to limit the search results to songs containing tracks transcribed for the specified instrument.

In support of this filter, when a song is added to FATpick each playable track is categorized based on tuning and other context cues. For example, a tab that is transcribed for a 4-string instrument tuned to EADG is (usually) considered a bass track, while a 4-string tab in the gCEA tuning is assigned to the ukulele category. Similarly most 6 string tracks are assumed to be guitar tabs, but when tuned to a low-enough octave such a track might be categorized as a 6-string bass tab instead.

The list of instruments that appear in the instrument-type filter is determined by the specific collection of songs that are available in your FATpick library. That is, the drop-down should include all of the instrument-types (and string-count combos) that are found either in the public (shared) song catalog or in your personal FATpick library. It may change slightly as you (or other users) add or remove songs from FATpick.


The tuning filter limits the search results to those songs that contain tracks in the specified tuning. Or, select "Any Tuning" to widen your search to tracks in any tuning.

Note that the contents of this drop-down are responsive to the selected instrument type or string count, if any. When the instrument type filter is active, only the tunings associated with tracks of the specified type will appear in the list of available tunings. For example when you select 6-string guitar as your instrument type, only six-string guitar tunings will be available for selection in the track-tuning filter drop-down menu.

Filtering by Track Tuning
The Track Tuning Filter: Select an item from the list to limit the search results to songs containing tracks written for instruments in the specified tuning.

The full list of tunings that appear in this filter is user-dependent. Like the instrument-type filter, the exact contents of the list is driven by the list of tabs that are available to your individual account. Assuming no additional instrument-type filter is active, the tuning drop-down will include an entry for each distinct tuning in every playable track in each of the songs shared by other users as well as any "private" songs you may have imported into your personal library.

Track Difficulty

The final row of the search form contains a pair of controls that can be used to specify the complexity or performance difficulty of the tracks that you would like to filter on.

Each track in FATpick is assigned a difficulty rating that estimates the level of skill required to play the tab successfully. Tracks are rated on a scale of "Beginner" (very easy) to "Expert" (very hard).

The extreme ends of the scale - min=Beginner, max=Expert - encompass all songs in the library. When those values are selected no songs are excluded based on the estimated difficulty rating. Set one or both of the difficulty range endpoints to another value to limit the search results to those songs that contain at least one track within the specified range.

Filtering Songs by Skill Level or Track Difficulty Range
Track Difficulty Range Filter: Constrain search results based on the level of skill required to perform each track.

As mentioned above, the difficulty rating filter is combined with the other track-attribute filters (instrument-type, tuning) such that only those songs that contain at least one track that meets all of the criteria simultaneously will be listed. I.e., if the difficulty range filter is set for Easy to Intermediate difficulty and the tuning filter is set to the Drop-D tuning only those tracks tracks that meet both sets of criteria (tuning = Drop-D, difficulty = Easy or Intermediate) will be considered a match.

For more information about the track difficulty rating please see this post.

NOTE When one or more of the track-filters are active, there is subtle change in the logic for selecting the track that is active (visible in the tab viewer) when the song is first opened.

When a song is opened in the tab player, FATpick typically follows a convention of restoring the same configuration that you were using when you last played the song. That is, the selected track, audio mix, playback-rate, practice/perform mode and other song-specific tab-player settings are normally "sticky" so that you pick right up again exactly where you left off in your last session with the song.

However, when the player is launched from a search for which any of the instrument-type, tuning or track-difficulty-range filters are active, it seems pretty clear that your intent is to actually play one of the tracks that meets the criteria you are searching on. In this case, if the previously-selected (i.e,. last played) track does not meet the specified track-filtering criteria we ignore our normal convention and instead select the first track we can find that does meet the active criteria.

This behavior feels quite natural - and is so closely aligned with the implicit expectations of most users that you may not even notice it - but since it is contrary to our normal convention we thought it was worthy of mention in case you're left wondering "wait, where did my sticky track selection go?"

Clear Search Criteria

When one or more searching, filtering or sorting conditions are active — any or all of the text search, song facet, or track-filtering controls — a button labeled "Clear Search Criteria" will appear at the bottom of the form. This does exactly what it says on the tin. Click this button to reset the search form to the default - unfiltered - list of search results.

Also note that when there are no songs that match the current conditions, a more prominent "Clear Search" button is displayed where the song list is usually found in order to call attention to the reason no song cards are visible. Clicking this button is equivalent to the previous one - it will reset the form to the unfiltered, unconstrained state.

Sticky Settings

For your convenience, the song-search control settings are "sticky". They will be preserved both within a session (as you navigate to and away from the search/song-browse screen) and between application sessions.

This manifests in two slightly different ways:

  1. All of the search form elements - query, song facets, track filters (and even some additional parameters such as the "depth" of the song list) - are preserved throughout the duration of an application session. This means, for example, that if you execute a search, page down through the list and select a song to open in the tab player, after you're done exploring that song you can hit the eject button on the player screen to return to your search results, right where you left off. This holds true no matter where or you navigate through the app - the search previous "state" will be available whenever you return to the song search/browse screen.

  2. The song filtering and sorting controls - song facet buttons and track-filtering menus - are preserved across application sessions. That is, if you're normally interested in Ukulele tabs in the Intermediate to Advanced difficulty range, you only need to configure those filtering criteria once. Unless or until those settings are changed, the instrument-type = ukulele, min-difficulty = intermediate and max-difficulty = advanced options will still be in effect every time you return to the song search screen. This is holds true both within the scope of a single application session — i.e. from the time you first launch the application until the time that you close it — and across application sessions. If you exit the app, the next time that you open FATpick those filtering and sorting options will still be in effect by default.

To reset these sticky settings, you can either reset the individual controls to their default values, or use the clear search criteria button to reset the entire search form in a single click.

Search Results

Assuming some of the songs in your library meet the current search criteria below the search controls you will find a list of matching songs.

FATpick's Song/Track/Tab Search
Full-screen screenshot of the song search and browse view, showing song/track/tab searching and filtering controls and partial grid of song cards.

Song Cards

The search results are presented as a grid of "song cards", where each card represents an individual song in the catalog, whether shared by others or part of your personal library.

Each card contains the title of the song, name of the artist, and title of the album - or whatever subset of that information is known for that song - rendered on top of the song's cover art (or a placeholder image if there is no custom cover art associated with the song).

To play a song, simply click on the song card. FATpick will fetch the song's score (tablature) and other associated data and open the song in the tab player for your practice or performance.

There are a couple of other actions you can also perform with the song card:

  1. The heart icon in the upper-right corner of the card is used to favorite (bookmark) or unfavorite (unbookmark) the song. When the Favorites facet is active, all of the songs displayed on the grid will have the heart icon filled-in.

  2. For the songs that you have personally imported, a pencil (edit) icon is visible in the lower-left corner of the card. Clicking this button will launch the "Edit Details" panel for the song, which you can use to add or remove a custom cover art image, edit the song title and other meta-data, change the song's sharing status, download the originally imported score file, or delete the song entirely, among other actions. See this post for more information about the edit song details dialog, Note that when the My Songs facet is active, you'll find the edit song details button in the lower-left of every song card in the list.

Load More Results

When additional matching songs are available a button labelled "Load More Results" will appear at the bottom of the song listing. Click this button to extend the search results with song cards for the additional matches.

You can repeat this action to fetch additional results until you've exhausted the list of matching songs.

NOTE: This post updates an earlier entry about the song search feature to describe the new features and functionality added in v2.4.7. The older post is partially out-of-date at this point but may still have information of interest to some readers.

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