How to Read Tablature

Tablature Easy Tutorial: How to Read The “Tabs”

Guitar tablature is the easiest and most used method for guitar notation. On the web you can find tab notations for almost any song that you want to learn.

Tablature is easier to learn than traditional music notation because it relates directly to the fretboard of the guitar, indicating where your fingers should be placed.

The tablature can show the solo, the chords and the fingerpicking.

1. Solo

e|--------------------|   First Chord (thinnest)
B|--------------------|
G|--------------------|
D|------2-------------|
A|--------------------|
E|--------------------|   Last Chord (thickest)

The 2 on the above tablature  indicates to you that you place a finger on the second fret of the fourth string (D). It is the note E.

The tab didn’t tell you witch finger to use. You choose the most comfortable.

e|--------------------|      
B|-----1--------------|
G|--------------------|
D|--------------------|
A|--------------------|
E|--------------------|

The 1 indicates to you that you place a finger on the first fret of the B string. It is the note C.

e|--------------------|      
B|-----0--------------|
G|--------------------|
D|--------------------|
A|--------------------|
E|--------------------|

The 0 on the above tablature  indicates to you that the B string is to be played open. This means that you don’t need to place a finger on it. It is the note B.

Sequence of notes 

Search on the internet the song you like to play

(Ex. Google “Oh Susanna”)

e|---------0-0--2-0----------------------------------------------------------|
B|-------2----------2-------------2-2----------------------------------------|
G|---2-4--------------2---------4-----4-2-4----------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
  1. Place a finger on the second fret of the G string and play the note (A)
  2. Place a finger on the fourth fret of the G string and play the note (B)
  3. Place a finger on the second fret of the B string and play the note (C#)
  4. Play the E string two times (open, no fingers)
  5. Place a finger on the second fret of the E string and play the note (F#)

etc.

Try to play “Tom Dooley” to practice:

e--------------------------------------------------------|
B-----------0-0------------------------------------------|
G---------0--------------0-2----------0-2-2--2-2-4-0---0-|
D-0-0-0-2--------0-0-0-2------0-0-0-2----------------2---|
A--------------------------------------------------------|
E--------------------------------------------------------|

2. Chords

In a chord you play all the notes at the same time, and the tab show them all in the  vertical position.

This is the G chord

e|-------3------------|      
B|-------0------------|
G|-------0------------|
D|-------0------------|
A|-------2------------|
E|-------3------------|

3.  Fingerpicking

Sometime you play some note alone and some notes together at the same time (solo+chord). This is the Fingerstyle the technique of playing the guitar by picking the strings directly with the fingertips.

e|------------2-----2--|--------2----2-------    
B|------------3-----3--|--------3----3-------
G|------------2-----2--|--------2----2-------
D|-------0-------------|----0----------------
A|---------------0-----|-----------0---------
E|---------------------|---------------------

Here are you playing the D chord in “fingerpicking style”.

  1. Play the D string one time (open, no fingers).
  2. Place a finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, another one on 3th fret of the B string and last one on the 2nd fret of the E string and play the notes at the same time (D chord)
  3. Play the A string one time (open, no fingers).
  4. Repeat the step 2.

 

Dust In The Wind Fingerpicking

Do You like the song of Kansas Dust In The Wind? Learn the first sequence and you can play all the song!

Read the tab, but listen to the main picking chord first (only about ten seconds):

Dust In The Wind main tab and Guitar Lesson

That’s the picking for all the song. Practice with this and you can play the full song. In any case it’s a good picking exercise!

e:-----------------|-----------------|------
B:-1---------1-----|-1---------1-----|-1----
G:-------0-------0-|-------0-------0-|------
D:-----2-------2---|-----2-------2---|------
A:-3-------3-------|-3-------3-------|-3----
E:-----------------|-----------------|------ ...

It’s easy to find the complete tab with Google.

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