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How to read tabs?

As you know, the easiest way to learn to play the guitar is to study guitar tabs (tablature). For this, you do not have to comprehend the subtleties of musical notation. The main thing is to deal with the rules of constructing and reading tablature. We will talk about how to read tabs correctly in this article.

In general, guitar tablature reminiscent of traditional musical notation. The only thing is that there are five lines in the classic record, and six in the tab. Each of them symbolizes a specific string of the instrument. The lower band corresponds to the thickest string, the upper one to the thinnest, and so on.

On each of the presented strips are numbers. They denote the ordinal number of the mode on which the string is clamped. So, the unit means that the string must be pressed on the first fret, the two on the second fret, and so on. If in one or another part the string must remain open (that is, not to be clamped), in the tablature this is indicated by zero. As for the meaning of "X", it means that in this part the string should not sound at all.

Individual notes

In order to clearly explain how to extract individual notes on the tabs, take the tablature of the string "B". For example, it looks like this:

B ---------------------------------------------- 0 (B - C) ---- 1 (C - Before) ---- 3 (D - D) -------

This record means that you will have to play the “open” string first, thus obtaining the “B” note. Then you need to clamp the first fret and the third. Thus, you will hear notes "C" and "D", respectively.


With separate notes in guitar tablature problems, as a rule, does not arise. As for the chords, the beginners are usually confused. For those who are most recently familiar with the guitar, let's say that at least three notes are played as a chord, played simultaneously and sounding in unison. The tablature of a simple chord "C" will look like this:

E --- (E – Mi) 0 ---------------------------------------- ----------------------------------

B --- (C – Do) 1 ---------------------------------------- ----------------------------------

G --- (G-Sol) 0 ---------------------------------------- --------------------------------

D ---- (E-Mi) 2 --------------------------------------- ------------------------------------

A --- (C-Do) 3 ---------------------------------------- ------------------------------------

E --- X --------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------

In brackets, for your convenience, we have placed the names of the notes. In public tablature such you will not find. This is done solely to illustrate the example. Go ahead.

In the above written tabs, the chord "C" is played 1 time. Simply put, how many tablature chords are indicated, so many times it is necessary to lose it.The following example indicates that the chord must be played two times:

E ------ 0 ----- 0 ------------------------------------ ---------------------------------------

B ------ 1 ----- 1 ------------------------------------ ---------------------------------------

G ------ 0 ----- 0 ------------------------------------ ---------------------------------------

D ------ 2 ----- 2 ------------------------------------ ---------------------------------------

A ------ 3 ----- 3 ------------------------------------ ---------------------------------------

E ------ X ----- X ------------------------------------ --------------------------------------

Continuing the conversation about how to read tabs, I must say that the only significant drawback of the game on tablature is that it does not reveal the full picture of rhythm and duration. Regular musical notation contains much more useful information for a musician.

Special designations

In addition to the above characters, there may be some other designations in tabs. They also need to learn, otherwise, playing on some tablature correctly will not work. Consider the most common notation.

b = (Bend). The essence of this sign lies in the movement of the pressed string perpendicular to the fingerboard. Such actions allow you to smoothly change the pitch.

r = (Release bend). This means that you need to release the above described band.

h = (Hammer on). This designation suggests that it is necessary to strike the string with the finger of your left hand in a certain mode. Thus, if you see the letter “h” in a tab, your finger should “hit” on the string exactly at the place of the particular fret and you need to hold the string on it.

p = (pull off).Like the hammer, this sign indicates the need to "pull off" the finger of the left hand with the string.

PM = (Palm mute). This sign says that you need to "silence" the note. To do this, touch the edge of the palm near the tailpiece.

Now you have learned how to read guitar tabs. But do not stop there and try to develop further in terms of musical awareness.


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