Tuesday, January 24, 2023

How To Read Tab Music For Guitar

Using Tab To Learn Chords

How to Read Guitar Tab [Guitar Tablature for Beginners]

As you become more familiar with reading guitar tabs, you can easily learn how to read guitar chords. Youll notice on some guitar tabs, chord names are written above the measures and chord diagrams are provided generally on the first page .

  • When a chord is written at the start of a measure, it usually implies the overall harmony for any notes actually being shown from that point on.
  • All of the notes played in measures 2 and 3 are in the chord C .

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The other day I was listening to a podcast interview with St. Vincent, one of the most notorious musicians of our time, who also happens to be an extremely original guitarist .

In the interview, she mentioned that in spite of having attended Berklee College of Music for two full years, she can’t read sheet music. But it clearly hasn’t been an impediment for her.

But how does a musician of that stature get so far in their career without an ability such as sight-reading?

Well, depending on the music you’re into, you may find that most of your heroes either can or can’t sight read.

If you were to investigate the way each of your guitar idols learnt their craft, you’ll notice that they either practiced by ear or favored one or another type of musical reading.

For guitar, the main ways to read music are chord charts,scales boxes, tabs, sheet music and strumming patterns .

If you’re unsure about which one to focus on, how to tackle each one and whether it’s the right type of musical notation for you to learn, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to teach you how to read music for guitar and help you become a better musician.

We’ll cover each one of the mentioned styles along with some examples that you can try right away.

How Slides Are Displayed In Guitar Tab

Slides are displayed by forward and reverse slashes in ASCII tab and longer diagonal lines in formal tab.

Regardless of the slide being displayed by ASCII character or longer diagonal line, if the end of the line points upward e.g. the guitarist is instructed to slide up the neck , as in the example below on the A string. In this case, the guitarist is being instructed to slide up from the 2nd to 4th fret.

If the symbol points down the guitarist slides the note lower e.g. toward the headstock.

Slide symbols can be used between notes or to indicate sliding into a note from a higher position, or from a lower position as per the examples on the E and B strings in the tab below.

* slide for mobile


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Reading Guitar Tabs Horizontal And Vertical Fret Numbers

Our fret numbers are displayed both horizontally and vertically when reading guitar tabs.

  • When we read our frets horizontally, that indicates that those notes should be played one after the other.
  • When we see fret numbers displayed vertically, this indicates that a chord should be played.

Bear in mind that not every chord is six strings in length. Quite often we will see chords that use only three or four strings.

In these cases, its important to watch out for the strings we shouldnt play.

The strings that we should not play in a chord are often marked with an X on their respective string line.

Its important that we adjust our hand and pick to accommodate the amount of strings needed for a chord.

Strumming strings and notes that arent in a chord can often result in an unpleasant clash of notes.

The 3 Basic Numbering Systems

How to Read Guitar Tabs (with Pictures)

Before we get into reading Tabs lets make sure you know the 3 Basic Numbering Systems that all guitar players need to have down.

Frets: Frets are the metal strips that go along the neck of the guitar. The one farthest to your left, if you are right handed, is the first fret. The next one to the right of the first one is the second and so on. This is very simple but its important to understand for when you start learning chords and scales.

Fingers: The numbering system for the fingers on your fretting hand is very simple but also important. Your index finger is your first finger, your middle finger is your second finger, your ring finger is your third finger, and your pinky is your fourth finger. Again, super-simple but really important for when you start learning where to put your fingers to make chords.

Strings: The final numbering system is for the open strings of the guitar. The thinnest string is the first string and the thickest string is the sixth string. Pretty easy to remember.

For more on the 3 numbering systems for guitar check out Fingers, Frets, & Strings.

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Understanding Chord Charts Scales Boxes Sheet Music And Strumming Patterns

This tutorial has been created specifically for beginner guitar players that are approaching to and symbols for the guitar for the first time. During your guitarist career, you’ll encounter many different ways in which music is represented on paper : guitar tabs , chords charts , arpeggios and scales boxes , sheet music, accidentals, tempos, strumming and rhythm notation . This article will give a basic introduction on how to read music and apply this skill to your guitar studies.

Other Elements That Are Good To Know About

Now that we’ve covered the basics, you should have a pretty good idea of how to read guitar tab.

However, because different players use a variety of different techniques on the instrument, transcribers have had to come up with ways of notating these.

For better or for worse, there isn’t necessarily an accepted standard for notating all of the techniques. We’ll take a moment to cover the basics, but just keep in mind that different tabs and books have their own conventions.

Here are some of the techniques you should know about:

  • âhâ stands for hammer on. This is a technique where you pick one note, and hammer another finger down on a higher note on the same string without picking it. It is also possible to hammer on from an open note.
  • âpâ stands for pull off. A pull off is basically the opposite of a hammer on. You start with two fingers down on the same string, one higher than the other. After picking the first note, you quickly âpull offâ the finger on the higher fret, which causes the lower note to ring out. It is also possible to pull off to an open note.
  • â/â is a slide. If it’s pointing in this direction then you would slide up on the neck . Conversely, if it points in this direction , you would slide down .

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Learning To Read From Line To Line

Guitar tablature does a great job of teaching us where to play, but one of the more difficult aspects is learning to play from one string to the next.

  • Developing our hand-eye coordination to practice reading guitar tabs while we play is a skill that takes time to craft.
  • We should dedicate a good amount of time to honing our skill of reading guitar tabs while playing.
  • Read slowly, practice effectively and you will find that youll start reading guitar tabs more fluidly.

Lets look at an example that requires us to switch strings every other note:

In this exercise, we only play two notes per string on the second and third frets.

Use your index or middle finger to play this exercise, as well as the open strings.

Pro Tip: Using alternate picking in this example will help you to develop a more fluid playing style. Alternate picking helps us smooth out our guitar playing, and develop our speed at a faster and more efficient pace.

How To Read Tabs: Playing Harmony

How to read guitar TAB for beginners | guitar lesson | examples | how to read tabs

If melody is how the song goes, harmony encompasses all of the other notes happening to support that melody. Harmony happens whenever more than one note is playing at a time.

When figuring out how to read tabs, its helpful to know that there are two basic types of harmony playing that show up frequently: chord playing and fingerstyle harmony.

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How To Read Tabs: The Frets

The other main feature of tab is the numbers. Theyre just fret numbers! They are not finger numbers, although sometimes fret and finger numbers coincide.

Here, youll see numbers all over the lines. Each of those numbers is a single note that you play by putting the most convenient finger on the string indicated at the fret number indicated.

See how sometimes the numbers are right on top of each other and sometimes theyre in a row?

  • This also emulates standard notation in that when the numbers are on top of each other, you play those strings at the same time.
  • The vertical dotted line running through the tab every once in a while is a bar line.
  • If a tab is any good, it has these bar lines to separate the tab into measures regular repeating groups of beats.

Most of the time, the measures in tab separate the music into groups of four beats, no matter how many notes youre supposed to play in those four beats.

Some tabs dont have bar lines, and the lines do not affect the way you are supposed to play the music. More on that later.

How Do You Read Guitar Tabs

Lets start with the basics of how to read guitar tabs. What is a tab, and how do you interpret it? There are six strings on a guitar, and a tab is written using six horizontal lines, each representing a string.

The bottom line represents your thickest string , and the top line is your thinnest string . The lines in between are the rest of your strings. The six horizontal lines are top to bottom: high E, B, G, D, A, low E.

Prefer to watch a video? Check out this guitar class where you learn how to read guitar tabs and play simple melodies:

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Getting Started With Tabs

Tabs are incredibly useful, whether youâre a beginner or a more advanced player. If you know what the song sounds like, you can use a tab to learn a riff in minutes and skip the sheet music! Think of the iconic intro from â Satisfactionâ by The Rolling Stones, the contagious riff from âPumped Up Kicksâ by Foster the People, the badassery of the bassline in âPush Itâ by Salt-N-Pepa.

A final note: tabs are really popular and easy to produce, and youâll probably see tons of free options online. Unfortunately, they arenât always reliable or legally licensed . If you want to make sure youâre putting your time into learning an accurate tab that supports artists, check out a free trial of Fender Play. You can access tabs for all of our songs, and we also include the traditional sheet music so you can switch back and forth, learning at your own pace and in your own way.

Start shredding!

Understanding The Basics Of Guitar Tab Before You Can Read Them

How to Read Guitar Tabs (for Beginners) // Lessons.com

The next step to reading guitar tab is understanding the basics.

The first thing you need to know is that tab is read from left to right. Settle that now in your brain so that you never have to think about it again.

The next thing you should know is that the horizontal lines represent the strings on your guitar . The tricky part is this the first string is the one closest to the top of the page , and the sixth string is almost always closest to the bottom of the page. That means the first string is at the top, and the sixth string is at the bottom.

Some students insist on having it written the other way, because it seems backwards. I would not advise that, because virtually any tab you’re going to find in magazines or on the internet is written the way I just described it. You better get used to it!

There’s one more thing you need to know, and we’ll have covered the basics of reading guitar tab. If you’re looking at a piece in tab form right now, you should see numbers on the lines . These numbers represent the frets on your guitar.

You should be starting to put the pieces together now. To recap, there are six strings on your guitar. Each line on a tab sheet represents a string. Numbers appear on certain lines to indicate what fret to play.

So, for example, if there’s a five on the sixth line, that means that you would play the fifth fret on the sixth string. Oh, and if you happen to see a 0 , that means to play an open string.

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What Does H Mean In Guitar Tab

h in Guitar TAB is short for hammer-on. This is when you play a note and hammer-on to a higher note.

In text-based Guitar TAB this is shown as h in between two notes. In formal Guitar TAB, this is shown as a curved line over the two notes as shown below and an H above the staff:

Both of the above Guitar TABs are showing the exact same thing to play.

2h4 means play the 2nd fret, then hammer-on to the 4th fret. 2h4h5 means to do two hammer-ons in a row .

What Does P Mean In Guitar Tab

p in Guitar TAB is short for pull-off. This is when you play a note and pull-off to a lower note. Its basically the opposite of a hammer-on.

The same curved line is used in formal Guitar TAB as is used for hammer-ons, so you simply need to look at whether the number is higher or lower to know which technique to use.

Hammer-ons and pull-offs can be combined all under the same curved line as shown below:

This can also be combined with slides as shown later.

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How To Read Tabs: Playing A Melody

Tablature is an excellent format for showing you exactly where on the guitar you need to play to get the notes you want.

The notes you want generally come in two forms: melody and harmony.

  • Melody is what we think of when we think of how a song goes. The strict rule about melody is that it happens one note at a time.
  • More than one note can happen in music all the time, but anything that is not the melody is considered harmony.
  • Another way to think about harmony is that it is all the other notes in the song that are not the melody.

Its easy to tell them apart in the songs where the melody is sung!

Here is a sparkly little melody for you to try, three ways.

Each example contains the same notes, but they are located in different places on the guitar.

  • Theyre useful for different purposes: the first example helps you see how the notes move higher and lower on the guitar.
  • The second example helps you see how melodies move across the strings on the guitar and where notes overlap on the strings.

The third example shows you how to play a melody without having to deal with any open strings, which means it is easy to put the melody in a different key just by shifting everything up or down.

For example, you can move the melody up three frets by adding 3 to every number you see.

What Do Symbols Mean On Guitar Tab

How to Read Guitar TAB for Beginners 🙂

Now that you know what the lines and numbers represent on Guitar TAB, lets look at the important symbols used.

Symbols on Guitar TAB represent different guitar techniques such as slides, bends, hammer-ons, palm-muting, and more. When you see a symbol in Guitar TAB, it is telling you to perform a specific type of technique.

There are two sets of symbols to learn for Guitar TAB. Text-based Guitar TAB uses one set of symbols and formal Guitar TAB uses a different set of symbols.

Lets go through all of the main symbols you will likely see in Guitar TAB.

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Reading The Tablature Diagram

Now its time to take a look a tablature diagram. You should see six horizontal lines, with the word TAB written vertically at the beginning. These horizontal lines represent your strings. The bottom-most line is your 6th string, while the top-most line is the 1st string .

Youll read your tab from left to right, and the numbers show which fret you should put your fingers on to play the correct notes. For instance, if a tab shows a 10 on that bottom-most string, youll need to play the 10th fret on the 6th string of your guitar.

After playing that note, youll read the next note to the right and play it, then the next, and so on and so forth. Your tabs will generally show one number after then next, but there are exceptions, such as when a song requires that you play a chord. In these instances, youll see a series of numbers stacked in a line. The numbers still represent your frets/notes, but youll be playing them all together like a chord.

As you can see, reading tabs is a relatively simple prospect, as long as youve got a clear understanding of where your strings and frets are located. If you find yourself searching frantically for notes while reading tabs, refresh yourself on your string and fret positions before proceeding.

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