Beginner's Guide on How to Read Guitar TAB (with Video)

Beginner's Guide on How to Read Guitar TAB (with Video)

Guitar tablature depicts musical performance using a visual representation of the guitar’s neck, strings and fretboard. The bottom line of the tab staff represents the thicker low E string, while the top line is used to illustrate the thinner high E string. Numbers appearing on the lines indicate which fret(s) you need to press to sound a note for any given string. Tab numbers appearing stacked on top of one another indicate they should be played or strummed together as a chord. Otherwise, play the notes one at a time as you move from left to right across the page.

Tips for reading TAB

When attempting to locate the note on your guitar for a particular tab number, remember to count the spaces between the wire frets, rather than the actual frets themselves. For example, a tab number of “1” on the top string would be located in the space between the guitar nut and the first wire fret on the high E string. A “0” indicates whenever you should pick an open, un-fretted string. (See the video below for more TAB examples.)

A common problem beginning players have when first learning to read guitar tab is the mixing up which E string to play when sounding notes appearing on the bottom tab line. The key thing to remember is to think in terms of pitch! The bottom line in the tab represents the lowest sounding string on the guitar; the thicker, low E string.

This covers the basic concept for reading TAB notation. For a greater in-depth look into the many techniques you’ll encounter when learning songs by tab, be sure to check out Guitar Tab Tutor, my free app for iPhone and iPad.

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