Reading Guitar Tablature Correctly

author: naguenyong vinx date: 11/05/2013 category: correct practice
rating: 8.2 / votes: 27 
Reading Guitar Tablature Correctly

Lesson 1: Basic

The following lesson will help to explain to you the basic concept of how to read guitar tab. Learning tablature is quite simple, and you should find yourself reading guitar tab in no time. Tablature is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches. Tablature is common for fretted stringed instruments such as the lute, vihuela, or guitar, as well as many free reed aerophones such as the harmonica. A tab staff for guitar has six horizontal lines, each one representing a string of the instrument. The bottom line of the staff represents your lowest "E" string, the second line from the bottom represents your "A" string, etc. The thickest string being the bottom most line and the thinnest string being the topmost.
e--------------------------------
B--------------------------------
G--------------------------------
D--------------------------------
A--------------------------------
E--------------------------------
Numbers are then placed on these lines to represent finger positions on the guitar fret board.
  2nd 3rd  2nd fret              
e-2----3---2---------------------
B--------------------------------
G--------------------------------
D--------------------------------
A--------------------------------
E--------------------------------

Chords

To tab a chord the notes would be placed in a vertical line upon the horizontal ones. This diagram represents a D Chord. You would strum the bottom 5 strings of the guitar in one motion if you were to read this tab properly.
e--2----------------------------
B--3----------------------------
G--2----------------------------
D--0----------------------------
A-------------------------------
E-------------------------------
And this one you would strum the "D Chord" three times.
e--2--2--2---------------------
B--3--3--3---------------------
G--2--2--2---------------------
D--0--0--0---------------------
A------------------------------
E------------------------------

Tablature Symbols

The numbers don't really describe the subtle techniques that a guitarist can execute, these are the tablature symbols that represent various techniques. Here are some of the symbols. h – hammer on p – pull off b – bend string up r – release bend / – slide up \ – slide down v – vibrato (sometimes written as ~) t – right hand tap s – legato slide S – shift slide T – tap

Hammer On

A hammer on is executed by picking a note and then hammering done with the fretting hand on the second note. The second note isn't actually picked but kind of echos the first one. Here is an example of how hammer ons are written in tab:
e----------------------5h7----
B------------------7h9--------
G--------------9h11-----------
D----------7h9----------------
A------5h7--------------------
E--3h5------------------------

Pull Off

A pull off is the opposite of a hammer on, so the first note is played again then the fretting hand pulls the finger off and lets the one fretted behind it play.
e----------------------7p5----
B------------------7p5--------
G--------------7p5------------
D----------7p5----------------
A------7p5--------------------
E--7p5------------------------

Bend

A bend is represented by the symbol "b", this is where the fretting hand actually bends the string to give a wobbly effect.
e-----------------------------
B-----------------------------
G--7b----7b-------------------
D--------------7b----7b-------
A-----------------------------
E-----------------------------

Release Bend

A release bend is represented by the symbol "r", this is just like a bend, but it tells you when to release the bend and go to the next note.
e-----------------------------
B-----------------------------
G--7r5---7r5------------------
D--------------7r5---7r5------
A-----------------------------
E-----------------------------

Slide-Up

A slide up is represented by the symbol "/". You would play the first note on 7 then slide the finger that is holding that note up to 9.
e-----------------------------
B-----------------------------
G--7/9---7/9------------------
D--------------7/9---7/9------
A-----------------------------
E-----------------------------

Slide-Down

Opposite of a Slide Up, slide down is represented by the symbol "\". You would play the first note on 7 then slide the finger that is holding that note down to 5.
e-----------------------------
B-----------------------------
G--7/5---7/5------------------
D--------------7/5---7/5------
A-----------------------------
E-----------------------------

Vibrato

Vibrato is like a constant rhythmic bending of the string. You do a bend up and bend down quickly to create a moving sound. It is usually represented by "v" or "~".
e-----------------------------
B-----------------------------
G--5v-------------------------
D--------------------5~~~-----
A-----------------------------
E-----------------------------

Tapping

Tapping is much like a hammer-on but you don't strum any notes. Just tap the notes on the fret board with your fretting hand.
e-----------------------------
B-----------------------------
G--5t---5t---5t---------------
D-----------------------------
A-----------------------------
E-----------------------------

Try This:

Plain White T's - "1, 2, 3, 4" (Intro)
e-------------------------------7---9---10-----10---12p10---10------|
B--10----7---10-----10-------10-------------------------------------|
G---------------9-------7-------------------------------------------|
D-------------------------------------------------------------------|
A-------------------------------------------------------------------|
E-------------------------------------------------------------------|
I hope you learned from my lesson. Wait for my Lesson 2!
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