- How To -

Reading TAB

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The Basics

Guitar TAB

Guitar TAB is a method of learning and storing music, like sheet music but it is specifically designed for the guitar and is much easier to pick up quickly. Like reading a book you simply read from left to right. There are 6 lines (the strings) and the numbers are the frets, if the numbers are stacked vertically then you should play them at the same time, this creates chords.

  1. Frets - Every number you see on guitar tab will refer to a fret that you need to play on the guitar, this includes numbers for hammer-on/pull-offs.

  2. Strings - There are 6 lines that represent the guitar strings, as mentioned the line at the bottom of the tab is the low 'e' string.

  3. Slide (/) - This is the symbol used to indicate a guitar slide, where you slide up to a note or down from a note into the target note.

  4. Hammer-on (h) - If you place your finger on the fret with a good amount of force and speed it will play by itself without the need to pick, this is called a hammer-on.

  5. Pull-off (p) - Similarly to the hammer-on if you pull your finger away from the fret with force it will play by itself and you won't have to pick it.

  6. Bend (b) - df

  7. Dead Note (x) - dsd

  8. Vibrato (~)

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama (Aco

Reading TAB Tips

Remember that the bottom line on the TAB is the thickest string not the thinnest. People often get confused by this as it's upside down if your in the guitar playing position.

Some TAB will have rhythmic indication for spesific notes, which can be useful but still don't offer as much detail as music notation, if I'm learning a song by tab and can play the recording of the song I'll usually just get my rhythmic indication from playing the song.

Sometimes it will show extra information at the top of the TAB, such as the tempo, the key, and if a CAPO is required for the song. Make sure you check these and factor them into the piece.