Reading Tabs Guitar - Learn To Read Guitar Tabs

I've posted quite a few things here concerning songs, practice scales, and such, but I may have forgot the fundamental skill it takes to really learn these things. In fact, I just assumed you knew. (which was wrong of me since I'm creating a blog aimed at beginners)

So let's talk about reading tabs. What are guitar tabs?

Tab actually stands for tablature which is a short-hand version of sheet music that's able to be understood by those without much knowledge of musical theory and how to read the musical staff.

Honestly, it has its own limitations, but that's expected in a shorthand version. In reality, you can't fully comprehend a guitar tab unless you've already heard the piece that the tab is about.

Kinda sucks, but it's true. You see, guitar tabs have a very difficult time conveying tempo and rhythm without spending much more time on the tablature's composure.

At that point, it's not really short-hand anymore. You see the irony?

So what do all these things on the tab represent?

Well... let's start with the strings.

------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------

I'm sure you've probably gathered as much that these lines represent the actual strings on the guitar, but in a different perspective than you may expect.

e----------------------------------------------- b----------------------------------------------- g----------------------------------------------- D----------------------------------------------- A----------------------------------------------- E-----------------------------------------------

See, when I add the actual tone names, you'll notice that they are labeled by how YOU would view the guitar when you're looking down when it's in playing position.

e---3---3---3---0---0---0---0---0---0----------- b---3---3---3---0---0---0---2---2---2----------- g---0---0---0---1---1---1---2---2---2----------- D---0---0---0---2---2---2---2---2---2----------- A---2---2---2---2---2---2---0---0---0----------- E---3---3---3---0---0---0---x---x---x-----------

The numbers that appear on the strings are the fret numbers. These actually tell you where to place your fingers on the fret board.

You notice that these fret numbers are all lined up. That's because they're making chords. When you see them all lined up in this fashion, that means all of those strings are to be strummed at once.

So for the first chord, which is a 'G Major,' the tab says to press down the 3rd fret on the 'E' string, the 2nd fret on the 'A' string, the 3rd fret on the 'b' string, and the 3rd fret on the high 'e' string. Then strum all 6 strings.

You strum all 6 of them because the number 0 indicates a string to be struck, but not to be fingered.

There are also a couple 'x' indicators on the guitar tab. That means do not strike as part of the chord. Simple enough.

The entire guitar tab just says to strum the 'G Major' chord 3 times, then the 'E Major' chord 3 times, and then the 'A Major' chord 3 times. (while missing that first string on the last chord)

This is most of what you'll encounter as fast as guitar tabs, but there are a few who attempt to show tempo and rhythms in their tabs and you might see this...

____1___+___2___+___3___+___4___+___1___etc. e---3---3---3---0---0---0---0---0---0------------ b---3---3---3---0---0---0---2---2---2------------ g---0---0---0---1---1---1---2---2---2------------ D---0---0---0---2---2---2---2---2---2------------ A---2---2---2---2---2---2---0---0---0------------ E---3---3---3---0---0---0---x---x---x------------

Now that I look at this, it's a pretty dumb rhythm, but oh well. Numbers will be placed on the top of the tab in order to count out a rhythm. It's usually pretty tough to imagine in your head, so listening to the song first can really turn things around.

Be prepared for some weird stuff to show up in guitar tabs, or for them to be completely wrong! Remember, anybody can write and submit them, but that doesn't mean everybody can really write music by ear.

My important guitar supplement links:
How To Guitar Play- Important Tips For Beginning Guitarists
Fast Electric Guitar Learning Course
Best Acoustic Guitar Lessons

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