How To Read Tablature

Here you learn how to play tablature and things that go along with tablature.

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Tablature is a type of notation fostringed insturments. For guitar, it will show 6 lines representing the 6 strings. The first string(high E)is on the top line, and the 6th string(low E)is on the bottom line. The tuning of each string is to the left of it's line. The numbers on each line represent the fret at which you are to play. You are to play these notes from left to right. Take a look at figure 1: Fig 1
e|---------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------|
D|----------2----------------------------------------------------|
A|------2--------------------------------------------------------|
E|--0------------------------------------------------------------|
If you were to play figure 1, you would play an open E on the 6th string, then a B on the 5th string by playing on the 2nd fret, then play an E on the 4th string by playing on the 2nd fret. If you notice, tablature does not tell you how long to hold each note. Because of this, you have to either know the song or have the standard notation with it. Standard notation is given with most tablature. Chords in tablature looklike the E chord in figure 2. To play the tablature in fig 2, you just strum arr of the strings. Fig 2
e|-----0--------------------------------------|
B|-----0--------------------------------------|
G|-----1--------------------------------------|
D|-----2--------------------------------------|
A|-----2--------------------------------------|
E|-----0--------------------------------------|

Hammer-ons

A hammer-on is played by plucking a note then"hammering-on" another fret. The symbol for a hammer-on is an "h" and the note that you hammer-on is on is the one that follows the "h". look at figure 3 for an example: Fig 3
e|---------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------|
G|----------------------7h9--------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------|

Pull-offs

A pull-off is played by plucking a note then lettiing go of that note and letting one at a lower fret sound. The symbol for a pull-off is a "p". The note that you pluck is the one before the "p". The note after the "p" is the one that will be sounded when you pull off of that note. look at figure 4 for an example: Fig 4
e|---------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------|
G|-------------------9p7-----------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------|

Bending, Releasing, And Vibrato

A bend is done when you push or pull a string in order to get a higher sound. The higher pitch is called the "target pitch". The symbol for a bend is a "b" or an "^".the note before the symbol shows the fret you are bending at, and the note after the symbol is the "target pitch". In otuer words, you are trying to get a sound like the note at the fret after the "b". A release is shown by an "r". As you know a release is when a string is already bent and let go of it. The note before the"r" repersents the bent tone or the "target pitch", and the note after it is note you get after you release the bend. Vibrato("~")is simply when you wiggle your finger at a fret to produce a pulsating sound. You will find the "~" symbol after a note that you are to use "vibrato" on. Look at fig 5 for examples of bending, releasing, and vibrato: Fig 5
e|---------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------7b9r7---7~-----------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------|

Sliding

Slides are shown by a "/" or a "\". A slide up (/) is when you play a note then slide your finger up to the target pitch. A slide down is the same accept you slide down. Look at fig 6: Fig 6
e|---------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------7/9\7--------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------|

Tapping and Dampening

Tapping is symbolized by a "t" amd you would simply tap on the note that follows the "t". Dampening is simbolized by an "x". To execute a dampened note, simply lay your left (or rigth for left-handed players) on the string(s) to be muted. NOTICE: an "x" in a chord chart just means that you don't olay anything on that string.

33 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    didude93
    This is a really good start for beginners. I was looking at the tabs and had no clue what they meant but now i do. GREAT for people just starting to learn guitar!
    ann_08
    i'm so glad you guys posted this lesson! i couldn't understand alot of the songs here! ^_^
    apoztle
    Thx for this lesson! i've been trying to figure how to read tabs forever and now i'll be able to get started. im a fairly new guitarist and all this stuff about pull offs and sliding really helps to diversify my playing and learn some new techniques to keep my strumming sounding fresh! thx again!
    pulpcult
    spartan_guitar Example of a pull off You put your third finger on the 9th fret on the D string and your first finger on the 7th fret on the same string. Then play the string and while it's still ringing pull your third finger off which plays the note on the 7th fret. Easy!
    spartan_guitar
    i mean is it like a hammer on? so u would pick the 9th then let go as u put ur finger on the 7th? so confused!!
    guitarnewb:)
    How do you strum the whole thing without strumming the G string?? help!!! |----3----| |----3----| |-----| |----3----| |-- --3----| |----3----|
    Jadee Jinxxx
    Thanks a lot. The only thing I don't get is, in certain tabs they have gaps between the strings and I don't get what to do. e:-3-3-3---0-0-0-0---0--0-0-0-----| B:-3-3-3---0-0-0-0- --0--1-1-1---3-3-3----| G:-0-0-0-----5-5-5--0-| D:-----4-4 -4--4-| A:-----2-2-2-2---0--3-3-3---5-5-5--5-| E:-3-3-3--- --|
    mrmatt1993
    how would you play this e|-----0-----0-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3---- a|-----0-----0-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3 d|-----0-----0-----7-7-7-7-7-7----5-5-5-5-5-5-- g|-----0-----0-----7-7-7-7-7-7----5-5-5-5-5-5 b|-----2-----2-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3--E|--0-----0 -----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3
    SenorFronz
    thanks a bunch. i was having a bit of trouble knowing what some of these meant.
    bassetrox
    pla
    plausible wrote: hey and what does arr mean?
    arr means "all" its a misprint I think this lesson would benefit from a mention of palm muting.
    plausible
    wait when you say hammer on another fret do you mean to play immetially after the other note or to hit the string hard
    jaroomusic
    fender2108 wrote: how would you play this e|-----0-----0-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3---- a|-----0-----0-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3 d|-----0-----0-----7-7-7-7-7-7----5-5-5-5-5-5-- g|-----0-----0-----7-7-7-7-7-7----5-5-5-5-5-5 b|-----2-----2-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3--E|--0-----0 -----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3
    B string on second fret pressed down, rest open. 557755 would be barr 5th fret and pinky & ringfinger on 7th fret string 2 and 3 (almost same as (?) F#M, f sharp major wich would be 557765). hope it didnt get too confusing
    thirddayguy
    If you have a question you want answered quick, email me at thirddayfan1@gmail.com. I'll get back to you in a day or less. Whoever posted this lesson, good job too!
    lightleggy
    fender2108 wrote: how would you play this e|-----0-----0-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3---- a|-----0-----0-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3 d|-----0-----0-----7-7-7-7-7-7----5-5-5-5-5-5-- g|-----0-----0-----7-7-7-7-7-7----5-5-5-5-5-5 b|-----2-----2-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3--E|--0-----0 -----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3
    simple dont place any fingers on the 0's, place the fingers mentioned, then strun all the strings (unless it have X's on it) then repeat the process on the other ones
    MLP
    Hey fender2108 the 020000 = finger placed on the second fret, second string, ALL strings played. the 557755 is a barre cord, place your index finger across ALL strings at the fifth fret then place ring & pinky fingers on the 3rd and 4th strings 7th fret, play all strings. The 335533 is also a barre cord, again, place your index finger across All strings at the 3rd fret then put ring 'n' pinky fingers on the 3rd and 4th strings at the 5th fret, play ALL strings. Hope that helped.
    crazyfrog5
    i'll guess that u use your thumb for the 9 and your second finger for the 10. same for the 10 and 12. hope this helps
    kliebe
    thanks for posting this, it really helped. could you answer a quick question though? what do you do when there are 2 notes in the same column, but they've got a bunch of strings between them with no zeros between--how do you play both notes?? i.e. -----12-- 10----- ----- ----- 9----- - ----10--
    nateXIII
    how come there are no notes after the hammer-ons and the pull-offs here??? I---3---I S S S E --14h-15p-14----- -----17- ----- ----- ----- -----
    fender2108
    how would you play this e|-----0-----0-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3---- a|-----0-----0-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3 d|-----0-----0-----7-7-7-7-7-7----5-5-5-5-5-5-- g|-----0-----0-----7-7-7-7-7-7----5-5-5-5-5-5 b|-----2-----2-----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3--E|--0-----0 -----5-5-5-5-5-5----3-3-3-3-3-3
    zhin.ming
    Can someone please teach me how to read and change the chords for the songs with only chords provided(They're without tabs).?