Learn How to Easily Read Guitar Tabs
by Jay Field
With all those technical quarter notes and treble clefs, who really has time to learn guitar chords and riffs without spending days, weeks or even months taking private music lessons? Music notation is intimidating, but there is a simple solution to the problem – guitar tablature.
Known as tab to professional musicians, it is almost like a diagram that shows guitarists exactly where to place their fingers. Tab presents amateurs and professionals alike with an easy way to learn new guitar chords or even a complete song. Let’s break down the basics.
Where to begin with guitar tabs
Think of it this way – if you can read a map, then you can also learn guitar chords from tab. Tab consists of six horizontal lines, representing the strings of the guitar (similar to a guitar chord chart, only sideways). The low E string is represented by the bottom line, and the other strings follow in succession the highest E.
Players simply follow symbols on the lines indicating what string should be pushed, and in what location (fret). For example, if the number one appears on the top line, it indicates that a finger should be placed on the highest guitar string, in the first fret.
When multiple numbers appear simultaneously, it indicates that certain strings should be pushed at the same time, in the fret indicated by the numbers provided.
Taking guitar tabs to the next musical level
Most tab will indicate the chord symbol above the lines and fret numbers, so that more advanced players can read along with what they already know. Advanced tab notation may consist of complex instructions from the author.
For example, sometimes a guitarist will slap their finger down forcefully on top of a string, creating a different sound. This technique, known as a hammer-on, is often indicated by appearance of the letter h in tab.
Unfortunately, tab does not have a set of standardized rules, and there are many variations. There is also little direction for rhythm and timing, but it will work well for musicians who have a good ear, and a preexisting idea about how something is supposed to sound before they play it.
It is best to start by picking out a well known, simple folk melody that is easily identifiable, and then move on to more complex patterns including chords and riffs.
Guitar tabs for every musician
Tab is not only an excellent way to learn new guitar chords; it is also used to notate scales, riffs, or entire songs. Guitarists who wish to try their hand with classical pieces, but do not read standard notation can experience the joy of tackling and mastering challenging pieces.
Many publishers create albums of classical pieces which include standard notation, chords, and tab. Every genre is available in tab on the Internet or for purchase in a music store.
One of the greatest aspects of tab is that once you learn how to read it, the notation can be applied to many stringed instruments like the mandolin or bass. The possibilities for a blossoming musician are endless with this simple system.
From chord charts to power ballads and sonatas, tab will expand your repertoire to include an unlimited number of pieces.
Learn more about easy Guitar Chords.
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