Reading Guitar Tab
How To Read Guitar Tab Easily


What is guitar tablature? Basically it is a kind of special shorthand that is used to indicate note positioning and fingering on the guitar fretboard. If you have been having trouble reading tablature, this lesson should clear up the difficulty and allow you to read tabs with ease.

There are 6 tab lines representing 6 strings on the guitar. (The 1st string is the thinnest, and the 6th string is the thickest) They are as follows:

E----------------------------- String1

B----------------------------- String2

G----------------------------- String3

D----------------------------- String4

A----------------------------- String5

E----------------------------- String 6

When a number is placed on one of the lines, it indicates the fret location of note for example:

E----------------------------- String 1



D----------------------------- String4


E-----------------------------String 6

The "4" means that you play the 4th fret on the second string.

The "0" means that you play the fifth string open--no fretted note

Learn about reading guitar tab here!

The notes on the tab are meant to be played in order from left to right. Look at this example:

E-------1---------------------- String 1

B------4----------------------- String2

G--3--------------------------- String 3

D--------------5--------------- String 4


E-------------------------8---- String 6

This means to play in order:

3rd fret 3rd string

4th fret 2nd string

1st fret 1st string

5th fret 4th string

6th fret 5th string

8th fret 6th string

If all of the numbers line up, as in this example,

E---3------------------------- String1

B---3------------------------- String2

G---4------------------------- String3

D---5------------------------- String4

A---5------------------------- String 5

E---3------------------------- String 6

It means you are to play all of the strings at once--a chord (in this case, a "G" major barre chord).

Problems With Rhythm Notation in Reading Guitar Tab

Strictly speaking, each of the little dashes is supposed to represent a 16th note. One of the problems with this type of tablature is that it is difficult to notate rhythms accurately and in a manner that is easy to read. For this reason, the majority of tabs that you find on the internet are not rhythmically accurate. You are therefore left to play the notes in the rhythm as you HEAR them. Of course this can be only as successful as your ear is accurate!

So what to do about rhythm? I use a program which I have found to be Excellent--accurate and easy to use for writing tabs. PLUS, you can get great tabs on the internet which use this program! Have you come across "Guitar Pro" in your tab searches? That is the program. Here is an example of a tab that I wrote with "Guitar Pro": (this one--Aerials by System of a Down--happens to be in "Drop C" tuning (C G C F A D) so if you try to play it, remember to retune your guitar!)

You can see that the addition of standard notation allows for completely accurate notation of rhythm. (Of course, you need to KNOW about rhythms, but you need to know that anyway if you are to be a guitar player.)The program also allows you to place chord names and diagrams in the score, score parts for a whole band, including keys and drums, and PLAY all of the parts so that you can hear how they fit together!

The "Guitar Pro" program is available at a very reasonable cost and will open up a whole new world of writing and searching for guitar tabs.

eMedia Guitar Pro 6.0 Tablature Editing Software Standard Arobas Music Guitar Pro 6.0 Tablature Editing Software [Read more]

Try it--I know you will love it!

If you would like to try some FREE Guitar Pro Tabs of your favorite songs, go to FREE GUITAR LICKS--from famous songs!

The next tablature lesson is about special symbols used in reading-guitar-tab. Click here to continue: Reading Guitar Tab: Special Symbols

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