Master All Grades. Lesson 2 - Reading Tablature

These lessons are designed to improve your knowledge of theory, increase your repertoire of techniques and better your ability to play the guitar by introducing the various standards that should be met in each of the above areas for grades debut to grade eight of the rock school grading system.

Ultimate Guitar
Before attempting to learn any piece of music for guitar, it is vital that a player is confident in their ability to actually read music! In this lesson I will be showing you the essential basics of reading guitar tablature (a basic knowledge of the musical stave is also very useful for any beginner guitarists). First, we will look at the standard layout used for guitar tablature.
1||-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------||(highest string)
6||-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------||(lowest string)
Each horizontal line represents each string of a guitar. The bottom line is the lowest (thickest) string of a guitar (string 6), the top line is the highest (thinnest) string of a guitar (string 1), and the other lines in between simply represent the remaining strings (strings 2, 3, 4 and 5). Each vertical line represents the start/end of each bar (bar lines) and the spaces in between are the bars themselves. Bars and bar lines are used in both tablature and the musical stave to break music down into sections. They are almost like the commas of a written sentence: they allow a player to pace the piece of music he is playing, like the commas allow a reader time to breathe whilst reading. Each double vertical line can either represent the start/finish of an entire piece of music, or the start/finish of a section within a piece of music. If bar lines are like musical commas, then double bar lines are like musical full stops. They can be used when one musical idea ends and another begins, for example: at the end of a verse and start of a chorus. We will now look in more detail at how the strings of a guitar are represented using tablature.
Each zero tells the player that they should play the string without placing any of their fingers on any of the fret spaces. This is known as playing the string/strings 'open'. The letters that appear before the first double bar line (EADGBe) are the names of the notes that each string makes when they are played open. So then the lowest string when played open will make a low (E) note, the string above will make an (A) note and the highest string will make a high (e) note, which is often represented with a lowercase letter instead of an uppercase letter to show that it makes a higher sound than the low (E) string.It is helpful to make up sentences that are constructed using words that begin with the letters of each string, such as: Elephants And Donkeys Got Big ears (EADGBe). These sentences can be used as memory aids. We will now look at how the frets of a guitar are represented using tablature.
Each number tells the player that they should play the string, using an appropriate finger to hold down the string in the fret space indicated. The fret space between the nut of the guitar and the first fret is shown as the number 1, the space between the first fret and the second fret is shown as the number 2 and so on. To achieve the best sound, the string should be held down just behind the fret closet to your picking hand. Finally, I should explain that on a musical stave there are many symbols used to give extra information to the player on how to play the piece of music. These symbols are not displayed when using tablature, however, for the benefit of the players, this extra information may be written in instead. Below are the brief definitions of some of the basic extra information that may be provided to the players. Tempo - is the speed of the music; indicates the type and number of beats per minute. Time Signature - is the pulse of the music; indicates the type and number of beats per bar. Key Signature - is the tone of the music; indicates the essential notes that will be used during the piece. The terms written above will be dealt with in greater detail and with examples of each type as the appear in future lessons. The instructions given in this lesson on how to read music cover the essential basics of reading tablature. A greater knowledge and understanding of tablature symbols and directions will be required for more advanced playing and these will also be covered in future lessons. Please rate this tab if you found it of any use. Thanx!

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    thanks so much! i never understood how to read tabs, i just got my first guitar and i actually understand tabs. lol. thanks!