Acoustic Guitar Resources:
Guitar Music On Line

Guitar Music Formats

Guitar music on the internet appears in four different forms:
ASCII Lyrics and Chords:



Unix "awk" scripts are available that will take ChordPro files and create simple ASCII lyrics-plus-chords files as chordpro.utils in the /music/programs directory at mirrors of the Music Archives.

Here's a sample:
[4 bars of Evensong]

ABC Notation
Check The ABC Home Page.

Web Servers

For a quick list of tablature web sites, check out Yahoo's Index of Tablature Sites.
OLGA Tablature Search at Harmony-Central
A web-based search engine and index for the On-Line Guitar Archive (OLGA) anonymous ftp archive mirrors described below. A great way to access the OLGA FTP archive, which includes an acoustic guitar archive. If you have no luck finding what you're looking for via a queried search, try browsing the archive instead, making particular note that there is a separate "acoustic" directory. This site is hosted by the wonderful folks who maintain Harmony-Central.

NOTE: EMI has expressed concern that OLGA infringes on copyrights. Many OLGA-related sites have been closed until the matter is resolved, including this site. See the OLGA section for more information.

Guitar Music Archive Search (USA)
Another excellent form-based search engine of OLGA mirros. Kudos to Paul Newton for providing this resource.

The Searchable LEO Music Index (Germany)
This is a forms-based search interface to the LEO Music Archive at the University of Munich, which mirrors OLGA and the Music archives (described below), and many other music resources. "LEO" stands for "Link Everything Online," which gives you some idea of the breadth of this archive. The LEO archives has a home page in both German and English describing the vast contents of the archive.

Adam Schneider's Guitar Files (USA)
Contains collections of guitar chords and tablature for songs by Suzy Bogguss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Indigo Girls, Nanci Griffith, Mary Karlzen, Christine Lavin, Suzanne Vega, and Lucinda Williams; as well as miscellaneous entries for other artists. A very impressive site, especially considering that almost all of its >250 entries are the work of one man.

NOTE: As of May 1996, Adam's files have been take off the web due to a threatened lawsuit from anonymous lawyers. Visit the site to find the latest news on the situation; we hope short-sighted publishers get a little more sense and allow this site to re-open.

Located at WWWOM: Web Wide World of Music, this site indexes and links a number of lyric and tab servers, mostly containing pop and rock music.

North Coast Rock and Roll Page
Provides a form interface for searching a variety of music lyrics and guitar music archives, including the Music Archives, Yahoo lyrics links, Grendel's lyric archive, Harmony Central and OLGA. Also includes searches for bands and artists on the web.

Serveur de Partitions Guitar Tablature (France)
An archive of guitar tablature located in France and maintained by Pierre Aubert. The interface is partly bilingual (French and some English). It appears to be an OLGA mirror, although there is no obvious indication of this at the site. This site also hosts a copy of the RMMGA FAQ. There is a bilingual search page providing forms-based searching of the archive.

Digital Tradition Folk Song Database (or here) (USA)
A huge database of lyrics, chords, and melodies (in a text score format) for literally thousands of folk songs from around the world, and hosted by The Mudcat Cafe. You can search, not only for titles, but for songs with a particular word or phrase in the lyric. You can even play many of the melodies online!

JSC's ChordPro Guitar Archive
An archive of chords and lyrics in the ChordPro format (see below). This archive was recently closed down because the music industry presured the school hosting it concerning alleged copyright infringement. All the archived files are hosted at OLGA.

The ChordPro Guitar Archive at
An archive mirroring OLGA's collection of guitar music in the ChordPro format. A search form is provided.

Unofficial David Wilcox Page
This site, run by Brett Taylor , hosts tunings, tablature and chords for songs by David Wilcox, many of them copied from posts to the David Wilcox list server. Some Lyle Lovett songs are archived there, too. To find out about the server (and other Wilcox resources on the net), take a look at L. Clator Butler's Home Page . He runs the Wilcox list server.

Jean-Marc Orliaguet's Song Collection
A collection of various information about Simon and Garfunkle, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, and Serge Gainsbourg, including a few dozen guitar transcriptions (ASCII-tab). An attractive, if not comprehensive, site.

Celtic/British Isles Music for Fingerstyle Guitar
Art Edelstein maintains this page that hosts a list of Celtic fingerstlye guitarists (with links to web sites when available), a selected discography, a discussion of use of alternate tunings in this music, descriptions of instructional books on the topic, and links of interest to lovers of this music.

Granger's Fiddle Tunes for the Guitar
Information about this famous compilation, including a small handful of excerpts from the book and the text of two book reviews. Note that Granger uses a nonstandard tablature notation ("Easytab") for his transcriptions; it attempts to include note and duration information in the tablature staff without an accompanying standard staff and without stems and flags.

Acoustic Guitar Digest
This archive of a few dozen popular songs, assembled by Joe Germuska, is presently "inert."

Richard Darsie's Acoustic Guitar Page
Contains some ASCII-tab for ragtime acoustic guitar pieces.

Contemporary Christian Music Guitar Tablature Archive
Tablature for Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) that features guitar playing. Mostly electric guitar tablature, but a few acoustic pieces as well (most notably a couple of Phil Keaggy instrumentals). This site is currently offline while permissions are obtained for tabs; it should reopen by summer of 1997.

Ceolas - Celtic Music on the Internet
This web site hosts a vast array of information on Celtic music, including links to written music in various formats for various instruments at the Tunes at Ceolas page. Also at this site is a huge index providing information on where to find printed music for tens of thousands of Celtic tunes, for a variety of instruments. Little of this music is expressly for acoustic guitar; but you'll find fiddle tunes, hornpipes, airs, etc., on which to base your own arrangements.

Independent Music Lyrics, Chords and Tablature
A new (as of autumn of 1995) and thus relatively small site archiving ASCII lyric, chord, and tab files of music by musicians recording on small, independent labels. The archive is organized by city. Among the artists represented are Ani DiFranco, Kristen Hall, and Disappear Fear.

The Ultimate Band List Artist Index
An alphabetized index of artist information sites, including lists of sites archiving lyrics, chords, and tablature.

The Incomplete Celtic Guitar
A small number of selections from Dan Mozell's forthcoming book of this title are posted here as GIF files.

American Primitive Guitar (newer location)
This site hosts resources focusing on solo acoustic guitar in the style known in the Baltimore/DC area as "American Primitive Guitar." The site includes a few pieces of tablature of patriotic American songs.

Guitar Tab Mailing List
This site is for exchangin tablature by email. The styles of contributors focus mostly on rock, alternative and blues.

Guitar and Harp Instruction Solos
This site offers tablature (as GIF files of a tab staff with rhythm indicated) for fingerstyle arrangements of a number of classical and popular songs. The tab is free; the site also offers various musical accessories for sale.

International Lyrics Server
A highly rated site located in Switzerland and maintained by Pascal de Vries that archives lyrics to over 40,000 songs of many styles and many nations. Visitors can add lyrics to the archive by visiting or by email. You can search the archive by album, artist, or song title.

Arthur's Fingerpicking Guitar Midi Page
Arthur presents about a dozen or so Midi files of his fingerpicking arrangements of traditional tunes, along with the melodies in standard notation and the guitar arrangement in ASCII-tab or GIF files with standard notation plus tab. About a dozen tunes are represented, including old standards like "Camptown Races" and gospel tunes such as "How great Thou art" and "What a friend we have in Jesus."

McGuilicut's Tab Archive
Like all AOL sites, this site crashes Unix browsers on SunOS systems, so I can't tell you about it!

Sliding Zone
This site hosts some bottleneck and slide guitar tabs by electric and acoustic players. Presently (Spring 97) five artists are covered: Ry Cooder, Fleetwood Mac, Rory Gallagher, The Rolling Stones, and Johnny Winter.

Gospel Music Archive
A collection of lyrics and chords (and some tab) for gospel songs in plain text files, including many Christmas carols.

Pop songs for classical guitar
Stephen Zitzmann's arrangements of about a dozen pop songs for classical guitar, in standard notation (no tab). Artists covered include The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, etc.. The site offers the arrangements as GIFs and also as a collection in a single Write 3.1 file for windows.

Anonymous FTP Archives and Gopher Servers

OLGA: On-Line Guitar Archive
This archive was originally known as The Nevada Guitar Archives, due to its location at the University of Nevada's anonymous ftp server, once notorious for being hard to access. Fortunately, there are now a number of mirrors around the world that make the resources of this huge archive more accessible, and its new name (due to Adam Schneider) reflects its purpose rather than its location. The archive contains guitar music (chords or tablature) for about 10,000 songs, and other guitar-related information, including some lessons and software for a variety of platforms. The original archive had a predominantly electric focus; but Dean Gaudet's Acoustic Guitar Archive (described below) is now part of OLGA. README files will guide your explorations and provide information about submissions. I believe The Music Archives (see below) mirrors this site pretty closely.

OLGA is maintained by Cal Woods , a philosophy student at Trinity College, Dublin.

The best place for up-to-date OLGA information is the OLGA Home Page.

Please note that the OLGA sites are currently under legal attack by EMI. As of Spring 1996, many OLGA mirrors have denied access, not only to users, but also to the archivists. The future of the OLGA sites is obviously in jeopardy; the sites listed here may not be available. You can learn more about this controversy from the following sources:

OLGA at Nevada:
The original OLGA site at Nevada was closed in February 1996 as a result of legal threats from EMI. In the hopes it may reopen, here's how to find it. The Nevada OLGA site is at in /pub/guitar ; access is sometimes difficult, although it has improved greatly since the introduction of mirror sites. You'll probably have more success using the Nevada archive gopher server .

OLGA Mirrors:
One of the most popular and accessible USA OLGA mirrors is AOL's OLGA Mirror at . A more recent one boasting of speed is the UTexas OLGA mirror.
An accessible European mirror is at .
We've compiled a list of OLGA mirrors here at FolkBook; Adam Schneider has compiled another list of OLGA mirrors with a nice graphical interface.

OLGA Search Engines:
Finally, Guitar Music Archive Search and The Searchable LEO Music Index (both described above) provide web-capable search engines for the various OLGA mirrors. Pierre Aubert's Serveur de Partitions Guitar Tablature is also (apparently) a web-based OLGA mirror with a French-language interface (some English, too), and a search page .

You'll find even more information about OLGA at Doc's Guitarland OLGA page.

Dean Gaudet's Acoustic Guitar Archive
This archive collects acoustic guitar tablature posted to the Usenet guitar news groups listed below. The original archive was at in the directory /pub/u/dgaudet/guitar. This site has recently been phased out, and the archive has been moved to OLGA (see above) and its mirrors. For your convenience, here's a link to the Acoustic Guitar Archive Mirror at Harmony Central ; if you can't connect, try the OLGA mirrors listed above. A README and Index file document the archive. You can reach Dean at .

The Music Archives Guitar Directory
The Music Archives. Connect by anonymous ftp to; guitar music is in /pub/music/guitar . The Music Archives Main Directory (/pub/music/) is a general music archive, containing lyrics, discographies, music, and other resources of interest to musicians and lovers of music. Numerous README files will guide your explorations and provide information about submissions. This site, too, can be hard to access. There is a web search form that lets you search the archive; e.g., you can type in a phrase from a song and search for the song containing it.

The Trinity Archive (Dublin)
Although hosted by the home institution of the archivist of OLGA, this is not a copy of the OLGA archive. Rather, it specializes in "Gothic, Industrial, and Alternative music." As with OLGA, it's dominated by electric guitar music; but there is acoustic music there as well. There is an FTP mirror at the LEO Archive (described above); there is also web access to this mirror , thanks to the folks at the LEO Archive.

TU-Berlin Archive
About 2400 files of???

Cowpie Archives
An archive of country songs???

Arlo Guthrie Tablature
Chordpro files for a half dozen Guthrie tunes.

Guitar Tab and Chord World
A tab/chord collection that looks like an OLGA mirror, though they don't identify themselves as such. The main purpose of the site seems to be to advertise a local New Jersey band....

Commercial Music Sites

Guitar One-Stop
An extensive catalog of commercially available guitar and bass tablature and music books, accessible via a searchable database.
Hal Leonard ONLINE
One of the major distributors of music and instructional materials for the guitar is now on line.
Cherry Lane
Cherry Lane publishes a large amount of printed music and Guitar magazine. Of particular interest to acoustic guitarists is their Folk Music page, which lists their folios for such artists as Shawn Colvin, Christine Lavin, Tom Paxton, PP&M, Suzanne Vega, and many others, as well as folk music anthologies.
Mel Bay Publications, Inc.
This site describes the print, video, and CD-ROM offerings of Mel Bay Publications, and also offers a monthly "freebie" piece of sheet music available both as a GIF file and an Acrobat PDF. The site also has a brief bio of Mel Bay.
Stropes Editions, Ltd.
Acclaimed transcriber John Stropes runs this site, from which you can order his transcriptions of the music of Michael Hedges, Billy McLaughlin, and others.
GGM sells sheet music and videos; they've been in business since 1974 and on the Web since 1995. They carry a very extensive selection of guitar music and videos in all styles; their catalog is browsable and searchable online. They also carry music for other acoustic instruments including fiddle, mandolin, and pennywhistle.
Distributors of Granger's Fiddle Tunes for Guitar and O'Carolan for Finger-Style Guitar. Table of Contents and samples available online.
Dan Mozell's Celtic Music
Dan is the author of "The Incomplete Celtic Guitar" and a similar book for the mandolin. A Nashville-based guitarist and harpist, he describes the book and provides order info at this site.
An Anthology of Christmas Music: The Christmas Guitar
This site describes a CD of holiday carols performed on acoustic guitar and mandolin by John David, and distributed by Montrose Music. The site includes reviews, sound clips, and allows you to obtain free sample tablature by email.
Affedis: Transcriptons Flamencas
"The most comprehensive catalog of flamenco transcriptions available anywhere in the world;" you can purchase transcriptions via a form on the site (French currency). The site includes Flamenco World, providing regular info on festivals, new recordings, and other Flamenco news.
John McGann's Custom Transcription Service
John offers customized transcriptions and lessons by mail; rates are given at his web site. His site also offers tips for beginning transcribers, and various bits of info for acoustic, electric, Dobro and steel guitarists, and mandolin players.
Ron's folk music chords & lyrics
Ron Greitzer's transcriptions of selected songs from contemporary singer-songwriters, including the work of Dar Williams, Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky, Lynn Miles, Julie Miller, Gillian Welch, Patty Griffin and others. Includes links to other fan sites for some of the material.

Usenet Newsgroups (RMMGA)
The Usenet news discussion group on acoustic guitar, with many daily posts of queries, answers, and comments on all facets of the acoustic guitar, including posts of tablature. There is an RMMGA FAQ document in progress, hosted at Grant Galvis's Acoustic Guitar Home Page in both HTML and text formats. and
More general guitar tablature groups, focusing more on electric guitar, but occassionally including acoustic guitar music. RMMGA was formed in part as an acoustic-focussed alternative to these groups.

Music Typesetting

Commercial Engravers:

Whitco Press Music Typesetting

Resources for Songwriters

Glade's Songwriter Page
Glade Hoffman, a songwriter since 1958 and founder/member of a number of west coast US songwriters organizations, hosts this web site including some resources for lyric writing.

Copyrights and Performing Rights

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) monitor public performance of musical (and other) works and collect fees, distributing them to the artists registered with them. The performances they monitor include radio and television airplay, and live performances in concert halls, clubs, bars, and coffeehouses. There are three principle PROs headquartered in the USA: ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.

Publishers monitor the reproduction of musical (and other) works, including reproduction on recorded media (CDs, cassettes, videos and other formats) and printed music. There are many music publishers; some with a particularly large and prominent clientele include Warner Publications, EMI, and Hal Leonard. The PROs are not publishers, and do not administer rights for the recorded or printed reproduction of music. The National Music Publishers' Association has established the Harry Fox Agency to act as a central clearinghouse and monitoring service for licensing musical copyrights. Their web site has a wealth of information about licensing copyrights both within and out of the US. For churches licensing music for worship, Christian Copyright Licensing International administers copyright licensing. Some publishers have web sites providing access to their catalog of published works, allowing you to check the copyright status of songs. See the list of publishers below.

The laws covering copyrights and performing rights appear complicated and subtle to non-lawyers (like the compilers of these web pages!); but the following online resources shed quite a bit of light on the issues of immediate relevance to songwriters and performing musicians. If you are interested in how these and other legal issues apply specifically to Internet media, you should visit the Cyberspace Law For Non-Lawyers site.

Works in the public domain can be performed and recorded without royalties. For information on Public Domain works, and a variety of other more general copyright information, visit PD Info: Public Domain Music.

Performing Rights Organizations

The three US PROs all have their own web sites:

ASCAP---American Society of Composers, Artists, and Publishers
BMI---Broadcast Music, Inc.
SESAC--- formerly the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (now covering the USA and headquartered in Nashville)

Agencies in other countries that administer various performing, mechanical, and copyright rights include:

CMRRA---Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency
IMRO---Irish Music Rights Organisation
GEMA---Gesellschaft für mechanische und Aufführungsrechte (Germany)
TONO---Norsk selskap for forvaltning av fremføringsrettigeter til musikkverk (Norway)

For some general background about PROs, see Everything You Wanted to Know About Music Performing Rights Organizations But Were Afraid to Ask!

See also "The Operating Dynamics Behind... The U.S. Performing Rights Societies," by Barry M. Massarsky (in HTML and ASCII text versions). For a more critical take, read guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Harvey Reid's ASCAP & BMI -- Protectors of Artists or Shadowy Thieves?.

Recently there seems to have been a lot of "negative energy" in the community of folk/acoustic musicians regarding PROs and how they serve the folk/acoustic community. There is good reason to hope the situation is not as bad as it has been made to appear, and that it may improve dramatically in the near future. PRO issues of direct relevance to folk/acoustic musicians are regularly discussed on the folk_music and FolkBiz list servers. Consult the digests for recent discussion. If you are looking for reasons for optimism, read this collection of posts from the folk_music/FolkBiz moderator, Alan Rowoth, and ASCAP's Assistant Vice President, Ron Sobel.

Music Publishers

MPL Communications
MPL Communications "is one of the largest privately owned music publishing companies in the world with a wide range of musical copyrights." Their catalog includes mostly pop composers, ranging from Paul McCartney and Buddy Holly to Meredith Willson and Harold Arlen. You can search their catalog by title, decade, category, composer, or lyricist. They include a list of cover recordings for most of their songs. Their site provides licensing information; mechanical licensing is handled by the Harry Fox Agency.

Copyright Issues

For copyright information directed to humans rather than lawyers, visit The Copyright Websight. Nothing intended against lawyers, by the way...

A similar document, specifically addressing legal concerns associated with digital distribution of recorded music (e.g., MP3), is Bob Kohn's Primer on the law of webcasting and digital music delivery.

Also, take a look at Terry Carroll's Copyright FAQ. It was regularly posted to the following newsgroups until 1993:,,, comp.patents, misc.answeres, comp.answers, news.answers. It is lengthy but very informative, though it has not been significantly updated since 1994 (future updates are planned). If you have trouble accessing this site, here is a local copy in plain text format.

A useful document, "10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained" by Brad Templeton, regularly appears on the new Usenet users newsgroup. The version hosted here is from Spring of 1996.

The Songwriter Information page hosted by BMI contains links to various information of interest to songwriters wishing to copyright their work, including the following:

Stanford University's Copyright and Fair Use site is an electronic archive of information on copyright law focused particularly on issues related to interpretation of "fair use" of copyrighted material, on the Internet and elsewhere. The site contains the full text of court decisions, legislation and international copyright agreements, as well as related articles on the topic.

For definitive (though perhaps legalistic) information, check the United States Copyright Office at The Library of Congress (also here).

Copyright law; HTML provided by the Legal Information Institute:

The Writer's Guild of America provides a registration service that provides a record of when a work was completed. They accept lyrics. See their WGA Registration Services Page for more information.

Finally, the "Hit Me" Useful Pages site has information and links on copyright and trademark issues for musicians.


You may be interested in protecting your band's name or your independent record company's logo; in this case you are interested in trademark law, rather than copyright law. Visit Basic Facts About Registering A Trademark or Information About Patents and Trademarks, both provided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

If your browser can display graphical background images, you may be wondering what the music is that we used for a background for this page. It's Phil Keaggy's "Evensong," from his 1978 instrumental release, The Master and the Musician. You can find out more about Phil Keaggy at Way Back Home, the Phil Keaggy Home Page .

Tom Loredo /