There are music theories, scales and a lot more you need to learn. Not everyone has all that time, and that is when guitar tabs become an easy option.
To better understand guitar tabs, think of them as cliffs Notes. They are swift and a brief way of learning how to play music on the guitar. You simply learn where to place your fingers as you play your music. As you do so, you will not see any other music information such as timing and rhythm.
Learning to read guitar tabs makes it easy for you to know how to play a song in a very short duration.
Table of Contents
The ultimate guide to reading guitar tabs.
Let’s pick this right from the bottom up. What does a guitar tablature represent? Answering this question should form a solid foundation for our lesson today.
A guitar, typically has 6 strings. The tab is denoted By horizontal lines each representing a string. The top string is the thinnest (High E) while the bottom line is the thickest (low E). This is the arrangement Of the strings from top to bottom:
- High E
- Low E
To be successful in reading guitar tabs, you have to properly know each part of the guitar and the role it plays. For instance, you should know what fret is and identify the one closer to the headstock, which is usually marked as number 1. Typically, frets are named 1,2,3,4 and so on as you advance towards the body.
About something you should know; if the fret you are playing is 0 then you are playing an open string with no fingers on it.
The reading and playing of guitar tabs. There are 2 key pointers that will get your guitar tab reading in motion. They are:
- The way you read a book from left to right, it is the same with guitar tabs. Once you get to the right end, begin the next line from the left and so forth
- One string represents a single one. Stacked numbers represent a code and you should play them all at once
It takes practice, and more of practice, to be a pro guitar player. You could also take lessons to improve your skills. It is also critical that you understand rhythm in its basic form.
There is no shortcut when it comes to learning how to play the guitar through the tab method. You need to fully understand the techniques. Fingerpicking should be your first step to mastering the tabs because you will need it while playing single notes.
You can as well watch someone else play. And remember this rule of the thumb: always hold the strings firmly to produce better sound.
Reading guitar tabs for a chord
After learning to play single notes, it is time you progress to chords. The chords are a combination of notes supposed to be played at once. Here is an example of how chords are written:
The best approach is, to begin with simple chords. At first, it will feel awkward placing fingers the right way. It will also take your time and energy learning to switch from one chord to the next. You have to practice and never give up.
Quick tips on how to easily learn to play chords
- Keep your fingers in a squared-up position. Helps not to strike other strings
- Apply adequate pressure on the strings to get out the best sound
- Master the right fret location. Place your finger in between frets and not directly on the fret.
Learning tabs for riffs
Guitar riffs are a collection of notes often repeated throughout a song. They are easy to learn even for a beginner. They usually look like this:
As always, you should read them from the left to the right. Keep practicing and you will get there. Remember, with tabs you only get notes and not the rhythm.
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More symbols and letters, you should know about guitar tabs
It is a quavering effect achievable through rapid bends and releases
A slide is represented in two ways. For instance, 75 Or 5/7. It means holding down a note while playing it, and sliding your finger down or up the neck of your guitar to the other note. A forward slash denotes up while a backward slash denotes down.
When you see the symbol x on a string, it indicates a muted note. You should place your finger on it without pressing the fret. The soft sound is what qualifies to be a muted note.
It is represented by P. For instance, 4-p-5 means playing the fourth fret and placing another finger on the fifth fret and pulling over the other one from the fourth fret.
Normally denoted by B, bends are a popular technique. Let’s say you come across such 7-B-5. You should hold down the 7th fret and while playing it use the left finger to bend the string until it produces a pitch just like the 5th fret
The letter H is used to represent Hammers on. For instance, 7-H-5 means playing the 7th fret and while still at it you use another finger to press the 5th fret. This technique is more popular with solo guitars.
You can never learn to play the guitar in one day. Practice is your weapon. Keep doing it till you get there. Hopefully, this article was an eye-opener and you learned a thing or two.
You can watch the video How to read and Understand Guitar tab. Video credit patdavidmusic.