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Songbooks? What do you use?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by Rustbucket, Jan 28, 2018.

  1. Rustbucket

    Rustbucket Friend of Leo's

    Mar 28, 2016
    First off, this thread is mostly for hacks like me who just love to sing songs either solo or in a small group or jam setting. I realize having a fakebook onstage at a paying gig can be frowned upon.

    I love to sing all kinds of songs: rock, blues, old country, newer country, folk, bluegrass. I like it all, but mostly lean toward the rootsy acoustic stuff. Never fancied myself a writer, I just love a good song!

    I’ve been carrying around a revolving version of this songbook for about 15 years or so. It’s my song Bible and has been to more camping trips, jams, family gatherings and other parties than I can remember.
    I like the 3 ring binder format for ease of adding, editing, resequencing and replacement (I’ve worn out 3 over the years). I use plastic sheet protectors for durability. I like one song per page with big print so I can see it after a few beers or if I need to set a few feet away while playing. I keep the word files stored on my computer for backups.

    Most of these songs I know by heart, and just need to be reminded now and then what lyric starts the second verse, what key the bridge is in, etc. Others are songs I’m working on or have had requests for.
    Today I upgraded to a bigger binder and decided to reorganize alphabetically so I can actually find the song I’m looking for more easily. I counted 186 songs in there currently and always growing. Enough to play for hours and hours without repeats.

    It got me thinking, what do you all use for songbooks? iPads, notebooks, internet or are you strictly memory?
  2. troy2003

    troy2003 Friend of Leo's

    Mar 30, 2010
    You described me to a tee. The theee ring binder and sheet protectors is the best I have found, for all the reasons you posted.
    YeOldeTeleDuder and Bill Hubbard like this.
  3. djh22

    djh22 Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    Jan 12, 2012
    I'm a 3-ring binder guy, too. But I can certainly see the advantages of iPads & Kindles & such, especially since my collection consists of three binders and countless songs.
  4. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Friend of Leo's

    Jun 30, 2007
    Swanton Ohio
    I still have a bunch of them packed a way..Mostly all hand written..
  5. King Creole

    King Creole Friend of Leo's

    Jan 24, 2011
    I use an iPad. But I have a pretty good memory for songs, so I rarely use anything out of the house.
  6. adeiderich

    adeiderich Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 14, 2011
    Medina, Ohio
    Did you take that picture in my house? Exactly what I use - have 3 or 4 tabs/marker to alphabetize sections.
    Rustbucket likes this.
  7. Stubee

    Stubee Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Jan 22, 2007
    My wife took most of my songs from the past 45 years and put them in a 3 ring binder for our 25th anniversary. She also put a picture of us on the front, and old pics of me playing on the back. It’s very full but I need to arrange it alphabetically! A lot of these are hand scrawled, from the days when I’d learn a song by listening to a record.

    I also have a couple other slim songbooks, arranged with material from different combos I played in. And in my flattop case I have two notes with a bunch of song titles listed in different categories, to prompt the memory when asked to pull the guitar out.
    Rustbucket likes this.
  8. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Friend of Leo's

    Mar 29, 2007
    Manassas Park, VA
    I need to graduate to something electronic to attach to a mic stand- but I'm trying to not have any ' cheat sheet stuff' on stage...
    I have ' The Bluegrass Fake Book' for reference ( not to really use at gigs)

    Then I will use old school binders full of lyrics (in plastic sleeves) if needed during a gig - mostly for either new/special worked up songs, or lyrics for songs that I know the guitar for ( Dylan, Dead, etc.) but need help with the words!
    Rustbucket likes this.
  9. I only use chord + lyrics charts for learning or practice or one-off gigs. For band performances, I have the songs fully learned and use nothing else to prompt.
    What I now use for practice, etc is an iPad with the ONSONG app. It's far more versatile than Songbook and its editor is superb. Within Onsong, It lets you play along with the matching audio track (original or one of your own) and adjusts the scroll rate to match it. Highly recommended. demo here:
    Rustbucket likes this.
  10. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Jul 2, 2015
    My song notebooks are like that, except I mark the measures with bar lines. If I happen to have sheet music for a song, it'll go in the notebook. I have one huge binder, plus smaller ones for narrower focus, like band charts, etc.

    I also have stacks of regular fake books and songbooks to draw from. If I adopt a song from them, the sheet music gets copied and goes into the appropriate notebook.
    Rustbucket likes this.
  11. Rustbucket

    Rustbucket Friend of Leo's

    Mar 28, 2016
    I like the official song books too for the detail, but the ones I have songs rarely fit on 1-2 pages and I end up duplicating the words and chords onto a single page.
    SecretSquirrel likes this.
  12. draggindakota

    draggindakota Tele-Meister

    Jun 28, 2017
    Lehigh Acres, Florida
    Looks just like mine. I also have chord & scale charts and a chord wheel in the front for reference.
    Rustbucket likes this.
  13. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2003
    I'm in the same boat. I have maybe 150 songs in my repertoire. OF course maybe 40 get used and I dont need the book very often for those. But then I may get in a mood to dredge up something or get a request. Then there is the female vocalist who does the same thing.

    I bought a 9" Galaxy Pad to attempt t get rid of the binders on a budget. Downloading Word files to the Pad is confusing and problematic. I think I could get there with a lot of time, but the next step would be making a contents list and making a touch link to the song. Not sure how that would go. These devices are really made for internet active forums etc. So it sits unused. I used it for one gig just for the set list. One thing I learned is 9" is not big enough, you would have to scroll somehow during a song, or have very good eyes!
    I've been thinking I should have bought one of those... thin mini computers.. Note book? with the detachable screen. I forget what they are called, but wonder if I could download direct like computer to computer with a cord? Also they come in a bigger screen.
    Rustbucket likes this.
  14. oldgofaster

    oldgofaster Tele-Meister

    Dec 28, 2010
    Here is my jamming space. I have an Asus tablet and use Guitar Tapp, a cheap program that will search out tabs and scroll. The tabs are editable and can be saved and organized into setlists. I have 1800 songs/versions and 35 setlists or so. Haven't used paper in years. If I think of a song I want to play, I pull it in and run through the different versions and add the signature licks, maybe the solo, depending on how easy/hard they are. I have the same program on my phone and another tablet. Fully synchronized and updated. I bought the tablet brackets off ebay and hooked it to my guitar stand. Love this setup. a.tele.63.craig.jpg
    Rustbucket likes this.
  15. cyclopean

    cyclopean Friend of Leo's

    Aug 14, 2009
    innsmouth, MA
    rise up singing is great.
    Charlie Bernstein likes this.
  16. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 26, 2003
    Augusta, Maine
    'Zackly! Rustbucket, since you already have a good binder going, the only thing missing is a spiral-bound version of Rise Up Singing.

    I think I'm on my fourth or fifth copy. I'm on the large-format version now, since my eye-bones ain't be what they useta.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  17. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 26, 2003
    Augusta, Maine
    To answer your other questions, Rust:

    - I have song folders on my computer that I can edit, print out, add to, whatever.

    - I have a three-hole punch, so songs can go right into notebooks.

    - I have two big binders: originals and covers.

    - I don't use plastic sleeves. I leave singing in the rain to Gene Kelly.

    - I never take song books to jams or gigs. I only perform songs I know. You really don't have to know that many songs to get through a jam session! If I don't know a song's chords and words, I don't subject other people to it. (It also forces me to learn songs, something I'd otherwise be too lazy to get around to.)

    - If I'm going to a friend's for some plain old sing-along foolishness, I sometimes take Rise Up Singing. People love riffling through it and finding stuff. Then I take a look at the page to get some kind of handle on the chords and try to play along. (Do I get it right? Who cares?)​

    Where I live, most people don't bring neatly organized binders (like yours) to jams. They either know some songs or bring unordered, over-stuffed binders that spill out all over the place three or four times in the course of the evening. To me, that just adds to the goofy ambience of the gathering, but the perps are usually too frazzled to have as much fun as they could if they just learned a few songs. No one gets tired of "All Along the Watchtower." That's what jams are for!

    I always suggest they just try something they know, but the almost-inevitable answer is: "But I don't know anything . . . ."
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
    Rustbucket likes this.
  18. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

    Feb 10, 2009
    If I see someone playing somewhere with a book that's not the Real Book I kind of figure they're a joke.

    Know your song well before you start singing.
  19. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 26, 2003
    Augusta, Maine
    When I was in high school, tabs were edible. Happy daze!
    loco gringo and McGlamRock like this.
  20. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 26, 2003
    Augusta, Maine
    I'm a joke. Which reminds me:

    A priest, a nun, a vicar, a rabbi, a Mexican, a Pole, a Frenchman, an Irishman, and a talking dog walk into a bar.

    And the bartender says, "Hey, what is this, a joke?"
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