How To Read Bass Guitar Tabs
Knowing how to read bass guitar tabs is an important skill for every bass player. Reading tabs lets you learn how to play many popular songs and also access a number of lessons and tutorials found online. Learning to read bass guitar tabs is much easier than learning to read sheet music, so just follow these steps to start rocking out.
- Look at each line as a different string of the bass. Bass guitar tabs will feature four (or sometimes five) horizontal lines. These lines represent each string of the bass. The bottom line is the lowest string and the strings get higher as you move up in the tab.
- The numbers on the lines represent frets to play. To read bass guitar tabs, you have to understand that every number corresponds to a fret you play. For example, if you see “-1---2---4---3---“ you should play the first fret, followed by the second, fourth, and third on whichever string this line represents.
- Look at the structure of the tab. As you read bass guitar tabs, you will notice that different measures are separated with vertical lines. This will help you understand where different sections of the song start and stop. Also, most tabs usually include a key at the end that tells you how many times and in what order to play each section of the song.
- Learn any other notation that may be included. Bass tabs often include notation other than fret numbers to let you know different things to do during the song. Some of most popular are: H, hammer on this note; P, pull off this note; S, slide to this note; ^, bend this note.
Don’t try to read complex bass guitar tabs at first. Start off with simple tutorials or lessons so you can get used to moving your hands and fingers as you read the tabs. When you get comfortable with simple tabs, increase the complexity. If you start struggling, slow down the tempo or difficulty.