How to read Guitar Tabs - I

Guitar Tab or Tablature is a system of notation which enables guitarists to play music with simple symbols. Even though it stands nowhere near the standard sheet music (which is a little difficult to learn and master), it has enabled guitarists to quickly share music in internet. There is a lot of information regarding how to read/write tab across web, but there are a few essential things which are commonly seen in tabs and should be learned by all guitarists.

The tab overview

E---------------------------->Thinner E(1st) string
E---------------------------->Thicker E(6th) string

The basic format of a guitar tab is as shown above. The tab layout is like if we were looking the fretboard from the top while playing the guitar. The thicker string is near to us and the thinner string is away from the player. Each line represents each string of the guitar with the beginning of the line showing the names of open strings.

Play simple notes:

Guitar tabs donot represent notes but fret numbers. This means each number in the tab represents a fret in the guitar.
A zero (0) indicates open string. So to play it, just play the string in open.
Any number greater than zero 1,2,3....etc shows fret number starting from guitar nut. Thus one (1) on the tab shows note on first fret of the particular string. The following example will show this idea much better.


The tab is read from left to right.
The first number is 0 on the D string. Which means we should play an open note on the D string.
Number 2 on D string so play the note on second fret, D string. Similarly the remaining part.

1. The Guitar tab may not indicate the timing ie. the duration by which you have to hold the note. For playing songs hearing the song and looking at the lyrics given along with the tab(if available) will help on how to read the tab better.

2. At Notes4Songs, you will find that tabs with notes only in 2 or 3 strings will be simply shown as below with a line written above telling which strings are used in the particular song.This makes the tab compact and easy to read.

"The 3rd(G) and 4th(D) strings are used.

 D-0-2-3----------------------          "
The next part (How to read Guitar Tabs - II) of this will include how to play slides, hammer-ons, pullofs etc which are always seen in tabs and also on how to play the tab given along with lyrics with examples.

Hope you found this useful and will help you play guitar better, leave comments below and keep visiting for more......

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