How to convert online guitar tabs to Midi to import into Guitar Pro/Tux Guitar

Friday, January 2, 2015

Not earlier than last night, I was confronted to the challenge of having to convert a guitar tab I found on the internet, to MIDI format, so it could be read by TuxGuitar

Indeed, I had just wanted to effortlessly check if the tab I was reading exactly sounded like I needed.

Effortlessly? well not quite so, but in the end I was able to come up with a reliable method which allows one to import a tab into TuxGuitar, play it and/or then export it to whatever format is available, gp5 for example, all legally and free of charge.

The operation is really easy, and to prove it, let's start with, say....something that looks like this:
E||------2--0-2---2-------2--0-2---2---|------3--2-3---3-------3--2-3---3---| B||------------------------------------|----0--------0---0---0--------0---0-| G||----2--------2---2---2--------2---2-|------------------------------------| D||-------------------0----------------|-------------------0----------------| A||------------------------------------|------------------------------------| D||--0---------------------------------|--0---------------------------------| ------3--2-3---3-------3--2-3---3---|------2--0-2---2-------2--0-2---2---| ----2--------2---2---2--------2---2-|----3--------3---3---3--------3---2-| ------------------------------------|------------------------------------| -------------------0----------------|-------------------0----------------| ------------------------------------|------------------------------------| --0---------------------------------|--0---------------------------------|

Tab junkies should have already recognized the piece, Bach's Cello Suite №1 Prelude. The simple trick I found after three hours playing with converters that never worked, was to use this free online tab converter . I did not even have to register and it's completely free.

Step 1

Just copy-paste the tab you have found in the second box. I would not recommend importing directly as a file, as you might get a parsing error. Click on upload.

Step 2

Now time to select an option or two. For my piece, Medium (default option) was too slow so choosing Medium fast did the trick. Also, I have had to select the option Ignore spacing and play notes equally so it rendered times normally. Once done then click on Go at the bottom right corner

Step 3

At this point, all you have to do is to click the blue arrow you can see on the top right corner, this will have you save your data into a .pl file.

Step 4

Assuming you are using TuxGuitar (should not be too different for Guitar Pro users), go to File->Import->Import Midi and select the .pl file you have just downloaded. 

By now, you should be able to play your tab, do any necessary modifications and re-import if necessary, and, you should be able to save or export your tab to any format you like, eg .gp3, .gp4, .gp5, .tg, you name it. 

Note: In case you have trouble playing the tab because you get an error that the Jack audio server cannot be started, don't go disabling pulseaudio or do anything that will impair sounds on your system. Just go to your settings menu (Tools->Settings->Sound), and select a difference audio server interface.

In TuxGuitar, it would look like this:

All you would have to do would be to choose the (default) TG Fuidsynth port and Tux Guitar Sequencer or anything else that's available on your system.

So now, you should be able to (legally, effortlessly and at no cost) import guitar tabs found online to your favorite Guitar tab program. Enjoy your tabs!


  1. Great information. Thanks for providing us such a useful information. Keep up the good work and continue providing us more quality information from time to time. easy guitar solos

  2. Linda, I'm glad you find this article useful. Thank you very much!

    1. Hey Roland quick question. I followed all of these steps but my .pl file will not show up in the tuxguitar file explorer. Do you have any idea what i am doing wrong ?

    2. Hey Pat, I have not run into this kind of issue yet, the only question that crosses my mind for now is: have you tried different settings in step 2, see if it generates a file that's better recognized in TuxG? Please let me know if that solves the issue.

  3. Hi Roland - thanks very much for sharing. I am having the same issue as Pat. I get to the stage where I can generate a .pl file - but Tuxguitar does not import .pl files (I can see the file - but it is greyed out). am on a Mac if this helps. Thanks. Daz

  4. Hi Daz, you're totally welcome and thanks for sharing your issue here. Have you tried downloading a regular midi file (somewhere on the internet that you know for sure is a well-formed midi file ) to try and see if you can import it in TG? if the import sub-menu is still greyed out. That's my first suggestion, could you please let me know what the outcome is? Thanks

  5. Hi Roland - yes midi (.mid) imports without a problem. It is not the sub-menu that's greyed out when trying to import the .pl file, but the file itself - visible to Tux - but not an option to import. Also when checked the description of import options on the Tux wikipedia page, .mid is listed as possible to import and .pl is not listed. Thanks

  6. Hi Daz, thanks for your reply, well as far as the .pl extension goes, you should definitely be able to import a file via the midi import sub-menu, I always can at least. Just in case, what about renaming your .pl file to .mid? Now, I admit not being familiar with Mac, but I assume that when presented with a file chooser dialog box there's perhaps like on Windows or Linux a way to select 'all' files types - I mean in my case on linux, the default Tux option is 'All supported formats' and I have to deliberately scroll down the list and choose 'All files'. This sounds very simple but could you please confirm that this option is available and that you have selected it? Thanks

  7. Hi Roland. I'm familiar with both PC and Mac systems - and the selection options/procedures are very similar. Have tried what you're suggesting - but can only think that the mac version of TuxGuitar does not support the format. It would have been nice - but I can live without it. Well done for putting the info on the web in the first place. Best. Daz

  8. Hi Daz, you're surely welcome and I hope you'll find a workaround to this issue, perhaps a new version will solve it. Meanwhile, have you tried tweaking your audio interface settings (in Tools->Settings->Sound)? I don't really think this is related to this issue, but well, just in case...