You can easily learn how to read guitar tab without any knowledge of
classical music notation. After all, when guitarists are learning the chords and lead for a
song, they need to know where to stick their fingers.
We'll start with a few examples to get
you familiar with the tab diagrams.
Oh, by the way, tab is short for tablature!
If you prefer to learn through
video, take a look at the below series on reading
basics of how to read guitar tab
This is the fretboard position
that tab diagrams
mimick. It's the alignment of the strings we're interested in - skinny
string at top (1st string), fat string at the bottom (6th string).
That's a typical blank tab diagram. We
frets on the actual tab diagram because numbers are added on each
string to tell you which fret your fingers should press.
Numbers are used on the diagram to indicate at which fret the
string should be pressed. However, you will often see a zero...
marks an open string,
which means you play that string as it
is, without fretting it.
This 0 can apply to any
string and, when noted on the tab diagram, it
simply means you do not need to fret that particular string, since the
desired note is created by the open string.
So in this example we're fretting the D string at the 3rd fret.
Notice how no fret wires are
drawn on the diagram - we don't need them
because of those fret numbers!
Ok, so that was pretty easy
stuff - let's take things a little further...
We're going to look at part of
a guitar scale (actually, the first 4 notes of the A major
not important right now!)
Take a look at the tab below
and play on your guitar this sequence of notes, fretting the
appropriate string one after the other...
Note that tab doesn't tell us anything
about which fingers we use to fret each note, but you'll pick that up
when you move on to learn individual scales.
Timing and speed is also up to
you, although in a lot of cases, you'll be using tab as a reference for
a song you already know quite well, so you'll have an idea of the
timing and speed required.
If it's a scale exercise, it's
best to start slow and speed up gradually using a metronome.
Onwards and upwards...
Guitar tabs are used for both lead
chords. You've just followed a simple lead guitar tab, so now let's
look at reading chords.
The tab above represents a chord. Same as
before - position your fingers (as they feel comfortable) on the frets
accordingly. The only difference is that with chords, all the notes are played together.
So if you see the tab numbers in a vertical
line, like above, they're
to be played together.
If there's no fret number marked on the string, it simply means don't play that string.
Incidentally, that was an E
major chord in tab form. More on chords in the chords section.
When a chord progression is
tabbed out, you get a sequence of chords like below...
also see chords arpeggiated in tabs. This means we play each string of
the chord separated, one after the other, rather than all at the same
time. When a chord is arpeggiated, the tab/fret numbers will be spaced
one after the other as usual...
There we can see an arpeggiated E major chord followed by a strummed E
Hopefully, you should now be
comfortable with the basics of how to read
guitar tab. Tab is very versatile and lead guitarists use several
symbols to refer to certain physical playing techniques (such as h for
for pull-offs, b
for bends etc.).As you progress into lead playing, visit my lead guitar
section where this tab lesson will be
expanded on, looking at the special symbols used in lead guitar
this lesson helpful? Please let others know, cheers...