Reading TAB And Chord Diagrams

author: .:eranu:. date: 03/17/2009 category: the basics
rating: 4.6 / votes: 5 
Tabulature(TAB) is a form of written music designed specifically for guitar. It is a visual representation of the strings on the guitar and tell you where on that string to put your fingers. This is a breif explanation of how to read TAB: TAB has six lines each representing a string on guitar. The top line represents the high E (thin one) string and the bottom the low E (thick one). This is how the strings appear in order if you lie the guitar down on your lap with the strings facing upwards. On These lines there are numbers these represent the number of the fret that you play to get the note.
High E (thin one)||--------------------------------------0------||1
                B||--------------------1-----------------1------||2
                G||-----------2--------------------------2------||3
                D||-----------------------------2--------2------||4
                A||--0-----------------------------------0------||5
Low E (thick one)||---------------------------------------------||6
The first note is and open note shown with a zero on the A string (second thickest). The second note is on the second fret (hence the number 2) on the G string (no laughing), and so on for the rest of the single notes. At the end of the bar we see a full chord represented as several notes on top of each other. For this you play the frets indicated for each string at the same time. At the end of the bar I have labbelled each string with a number. I have done this to avoid confusion as most beggining guitarists think of the thickest string (Low E) as the first string when infact it is the opposite way round. In the world of guitar there are many different ways to play the same notes and different ways to get to notes. These techniques are shown in TAB by different symbols and letters. Here are some examples: Hammer-on and Pull-off: Slides: Bends:
||-----------------|       ||------------------|  ||------------------|
||-----------------|       ||------\5------/5--|  ||------------------|
||--5-h-7---7-p-5--|       ||--5/7----7\5------|  ||--5bu7bd5---------|
||-----------------|       ||------------------|  ||------------------|
||-----------------|       ||------------------|  ||----------pb7bd5--|
||-----------------|       ||------------------|  ||------------------|
The first diagram show hammer-ons and pull-offs represented by "h" and "p" respectively. Slides are shown by forward and back slashes. A forward slash tell you to slide up to (or down from), and the opposite for a back slash. For bends there are severall different thigns that can be shown. "bu" means bend up, "bd" means bend down or realease bend and "pb" means pre-bend. There are a few more things for bend but they are the basics really. There is also lots more techniques that can be showhn in TAB. These often are represented differently by different people. In most TABs there will be a key at the bottom and in all official TAB music there will be a key at the start. Now the main downside to TAB is that note lengths and musical directions are not shown. This is partly over come by putting letters over the top of the TAB showing the note length. For example:
       Q    E  E  S S S S
H-E||--5----7--5--5-7-8-7--|
This is a partial TAB shown on the high E string (H-E). The first note is a "Q" in length, meaning a quarter of a bar when in relation to 4/4 but is basically 1 beat otherwise known as a crotchet. "E" is an eigth, half of a quarter, otherwise know as a quaver and so on. "W" stands for whole and "H" for half. That is basically everything you need to know about reading TAB, if i have missed out anything please infrom me. Chord Diagrams: Chord diagrams are used to help show precicely how to play a chord and so that chords can be shown as letters instead of having to TAB out the full chord everytime. Basic chord diagram: A basic chord diagram will simply be a single chord shown in TAB form like: Cmaj7 |-3-| |-5-| |-4-| |-5-| |-3-| |---| Complex chord diagram: When I say "complex", I mean more complex than the basic one. This one actually shows you where to put your fingers and tells you which fingers to use.
Am
0|---|---|---|---|
 |-1-|---|---|---|
 |---|-3-|---|---|
 |---|-2-|---|---|
0|---|---|---|---|
X|---|---|---|---|
Again the six strings are shown in the same way but this time the numbers relate to fingers and instead the frets are shown by vertical line as seen on the guitar. The "0" before a string means you play an open string, and the "X" means you don't play that string. For this type of chord diagram sometimes chords will be a lot further up the fretboard then can be shown on this diagram this is shown like this.
Am
|-1-|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|---|---|
|---|---|-4-|---|
|---|---|-3-|---|
|-1-|---|---|---|
 5
Shown under this diagram is the number 5. This means that what seems to eb the first fret is now the 5th fret instead. This allows for clear representation of chords anywhere on the neck while still being compact. This concludes this lesson on reading TAB and chord diagrams I hope this has been helpful for atleast one person. If I made any mistakes in what I have said or if there is anything you may wish to add please do comment on it, thank you.
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