How To Read Guitar Tabs
For those of you wondering how to read guitar tabs, or tablature, a little practice with some tabs will have you reading them in no time. Part of understanding how to read guitar tabs is knowing what the lines and numbers mean. As soon as you know what those are, the rest should follow easily.
- Understand what the lines represent. As you should see on the tab chart you're looking at, there are six lines that compose the tablature. Each one represents a string on your guitar. The line at the bottom represents the low E-string (the thickest string on your guitar) and each subsequent line represents the strings that follow that one, ending with the string with the highest pitch--the high E-string. Be careful not to read the tab upside down as many learning how to read guitar tabs for the first time mistakenly believe that the lowest line represents the highest string on the guitar.
- Understand what the numbers represent. The six lines on your tab sheet are covered in numbers. Each number represents the fret number you should be playing during any given part of the composition. For example, if the third line from the bottom has the number 6 printed on it, then you should have your finger on the third string from the bottom, placed upon the 6th fret. If you're learning how to read guitar tabs for the first time, it's imperative that you look for any chord sequences listed at the beginning of a composition. These show you the chord fingerings by string and fret number. Remember that when you see numbers stacked on top of one another, line-by-line, that means you should be playing those notes and strings together--in other words, playing that chord.
- Practice playing from tabs. Knowing how to read guitar tabs without any difficulty requires lots of practice, and you should begin by pulling the tabs for some of your favorite songs that you think your guitar-playing ability will allow you to learn. Be sure to practice reading the lines and numbers in tandem so that it's easy to see where your fingers will move for each part of the composition. Learning how to read guitar tabs is an excellent way to develop your abilities as a guitarist, and it's a great way to learn new songs.