How To Read Guitar Tabs - An Introduction


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Most guitarists are self-taught. They don't usually go through formal lessons learning scales and music theory. . . People like Jimmi Hendricks and Eric Clapton made all that stuff way too boring long ago. The average guitarist's self-taught nature may therefore explain why guitar tabs can sometimes be a bit of a mystery - it's a bit too much like reading music. But that's not really the case. Let me show you how to read guitar tabs. . .

Guitar tabs are a form of written musical notation, but one that is strictly for guitar. Tabs have six horizontal lines, one for each string. Starting with the bottom line and working up to the top line, the lines represent the strings, E, A, D, G, B, and E like this:

E-2- (first or top string)






You will notice that there are numbers on the top three lines. This is how you would represent a chord. The numbers refer to the fret that the corresponding string is pressed down on. In this case, the second fret of the first, or top, string is depressed. Then the third fret of the second string, followed by the second fret of the third string. The last three lines all have the number zero in them. This indicates that these strings are all played open. So, in this example we would play a simple form of the chord, D major.

Having the numbers all stacked vertically means that the strings depressed on the corresponding strings are all to be played at the same time.

One of the major flaws of guitar tabs as a way of notating music is it's inability to properly convey rhythm and timing. This means that if you haven't heard the particular song or piece of music you are trying to play, it may be a bit like driving with your eyes closed.

There's much more to it than that, things like the letter “h" representing a hammer on, and “b" for string bends, and so on - it gets complicated. If you're serious about learning how to read guitar tabs, you should find a good course to teach you.

John Coutts is an experienced author who writes on a variety of popular subjects. Did you find these tips useful? You can learn a lot more about how to read guitar tabs from this resource,

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