How To Read Bass Tablature: Extended

What you do when you see /, ~, \, h, on a tab for bass.

How To Read Bass Tablature: Extended
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Tabs can be fun but sometimes it has other symbols like a / or a letter like h. Here I am going to tell you what those mean. Note that the tabs are examples and were not played out for this. They are there to show what it would look like on a tab.

01. the / symbol

When you see this, it's a simple help that tells you to slide up the string to the next note. Here is an example.
G|----------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------|
E|---------5/9----------------------|
Here you would play on the fifth fret then slide up to the 9th fret. You would never see something like this next example.
G|----------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------|
A|-----------9----------------------|
E|---------5/-----------------------|
If you do then the tabber must've been high, drunk, or made a mistake because you cannot carry the sound of one string to another one.

02. The \ symbool

This symbol means the same thing as the / symbol except it directs you to slide the opposite direction of the / symbol. Take this example for instance.
G|----------------------------------|
D|------------------------12\7------|
A|----------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------|
You slide up the fret board to the directed note.

03. the ~ symbol

This tells you to "whammy". You do that on a note followed by that symbol. Take a look at this example.
G|----------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------|
A|-----------7-5-1------------------|
E|--0--0-0-5---------3~-------------|
If you don't know how to whammy on your bass, you keep pressure on the note then wiggle the string to give it that effect.

04. The h symbol

I know that an H is not a symbol but I am going to call it one for the sake of someone not getting confused. The h symbol is key for learning more advanced bass tabs. the h on a tab is short for "hammer-on" as in you play a note and then WITHOUT PLUCKING IT AGAIN landing on the next note without reasonable speed and pressure to keep the sound going strong. This example is from Cage The Elephant- Drones in The Valley to show how it takes place in a more advanced song. Tabbed By : X_bassist_X
G|-----------------------------------7---------|
D|---------------7-9-9-----------7h9---9-7-----|
A|---------------------------------------------|
E|--------7-7------------7--7------------------|
And there you have it. You now know what those symbols mean and how to apply them to playing with tabs. If you have suggestions to what other things I should put in another article for the beginning bassist, email me at jonasvland@esrock.net. Happy Plucking!

30 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Shortround
    "You would never see something like this next example. G|-----| D|-----| A|-----9-----| E|-----5/- ----| If you do then the tabber must've been high, drunk, or made a mistake because you cannot carry the sound of one string to another one." I've seen and interpreted this notation as a loose slide from E(5) up to ~E(9) [E-string, 9th fret]; then, quickly, a normal pluck on A(9).
    K33nbl4d3
    I gotta say, most of this info is included in pretty much any good tab, plus "whammying" is universally known as vibrato, with "whammying" pretty much exclusively referring to vibrato arm use. Seriously, I learned this stuff in minutes from the tabs themselves when I started.
    henrihell
    The second example in sliding does exist... In guitar pro, it's referred to as "slide up to nowhere" you simply just slide up, and leave it on a comfortable, good sounding note, and then play the next note.
    wembly
    Shortround wrote: "You would never see something like this next example. G|-----| D|-----| A|-----9-----| E|-----5/- ----| If you do then the tabber must've been high, drunk, or made a mistake because you cannot carry the sound of one string to another one." I've seen and interpreted this notation as a loose slide from E(5) up to ~E(9) [E-string, 9th fret]; then, quickly, a normal pluck on A(9).
    Yeah, if there's no number on the string after a slide, then you just slide the note out in the direction it says, usually to make it more comfortable to go to another note on a different string.
    Spaz91
    Spaz91 wrote: Why would you need a lesson to read tab? Tab is aimed at people who deliberately lessons.
    *avoid lessons.
    iup788
    Miyagi84 wrote: Spaz91 wrote: Why would you need a lesson to read tab? Tab is aimed at people who deliberately lessons. That's not necessarily true, there are plenty of people who are taking music lessons and know theory (myself included) who don't know how to read sheet music. When I was starting out, tabulature was a bit confusing to understand, although its completely understandable to me now. Point I'm trying to make is just because you may have learned one way it doesn't mean that everyone else has to.
    Paul McCartney, Slash, and Bob Dylan can't read music, just to name a few.
    rome72
    Rahkshinaw, youre right. Keep it up - there are always people who have never seen tabs before, and you help them interpreting.
    Rahkshinaw
    f-cusson wrote: Sorry but that's really a poor lesson. You cover only a small parts of the existing symbols in the tabs language and the worst is that you took the most easy to understand. I would'nt find it so bad if at least you didn't namme it bass tablature EXTENDED, I don't want to see the original if you did expand it
    I had an article but the administration moved it to lessons.
    f-cusson
    Sorry but that's really a poor lesson. You cover only a small parts of the existing symbols in the tabs language and the worst is that you took the most easy to understand. I would'nt find it so bad if at least you didn't namme it bass tablature EXTENDED, I don't want to see the original if you did expand it
    Spaz91
    Why would you need a lesson to read tab? Tab is aimed at people who deliberately lessons.
    f-cusson
    By the way you know a whammy is getting the note lower then bringing it back to it's root repeativly and not higher like vibrato wich is what you expland in your point no. 3
    Miyagi84
    Spaz91 wrote: Why would you need a lesson to read tab? Tab is aimed at people who deliberately lessons.
    That's not necessarily true, there are plenty of people who are taking music lessons and know theory (myself included) who don't know how to read sheet music. When I was starting out, tabulature was a bit confusing to understand, although its completely understandable to me now. Point I'm trying to make is just because you may have learned one way it doesn't mean that everyone else has to.
    Miyagi84
    iup788 wrote: Miyagi84 wrote: Spaz91 wrote: Why would you need a lesson to read tab? Tab is aimed at people who deliberately lessons. That's not necessarily true, there are plenty of people who are taking music lessons and know theory (myself included) who don't know how to read sheet music. When I was starting out, tabulature was a bit confusing to understand, although its completely understandable to me now. Point I'm trying to make is just because you may have learned one way it doesn't mean that everyone else has to. Paul McCartney, Slash, and Bob Dylan can't read music, just to name a few.
    Right, and your point is? I just said that just because you can't read music it shouldn't preclude you from being able to play, which in the case of those three you mentioned is absolutely true. Just because they can't read sheet music doesn't mean they don't know alot of music theory... I'd venture to say they know quite alot. I'm just saying that this lesson isn't so terrible, even though bass tab is the same as guitar tab, they may be helpful to an absolute novice on the guitar, there is no need for the above posters to criticize another player for learning another way that yourself.
    pokerhappy
    Lol. The symbol index posted at the top of most tabs explains much more than this in a ridiculously smaller amount of words.
    Rahkshinaw
    Oh no I'm keeping this up because it cracks me up seeing yall rage over this just because it's simple (nothing basically). f*ck I don't care if this has a bad rating, this is funny.
    INSULIN
    I MISS GUITAR FOR THE PRACTICING MUSICIAN MAGAZINE HAD TAB AND REAL SHEET MUSIC.COULD PLAY SONGS ON PIANO
    Rahkshinaw
    rome72 wrote: Rahkshinaw, youre right. Keep it up - there are always people who have never seen tabs before, and you help them interpreting.
    Alright! Someone who gets what I was going for!
    navybass64
    Hello I almost hesitate to ask. It seems everyone is so picky about where questions are posted.I have only been on the site a short while is there a difference between tabs and tabpro it seems there is
    Rahkshinaw
    Pretty sure you had this answered already but yes. Tab Pro shows how it's supposed to be played and how it's supposed to sound on several different instruments while with regular tabs you have to interpret it yourself. Tab Pro is also a paid subscription (unless you were lucky enough to get it free for life like me and a few other tabbers)