Jump to content


How To Read Guitar Tabs


  • Please log in to reply
1 reply to this topic

#1 Nealio

Nealio

    Stuff

  • Ombudsman
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 35,476 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Dundalk, Ireland
  • Donator:Yes, Once
  • Original Name: nealmac

Posted 09 April 2010 - 09:45 AM

How To Read Guitar Tabs

Learning how to read guitar tab is quite easy, all but one problem. Unlike standard music notation, there is no real standard to how TABS are written. The differences aren't huge but you do need to get familiar with the various forms of guitar tab. Another major problem with guitar tabs is that there might be no indication of rhythm. This subject is a little bit misleading and really only affects guitar tabs that are created in ASCII, but even some ASCII tabs do have the rhythmic value included.

Guitar tab basics
We'll start off with the absolute basics of guitar tab, how to read the notes. Guitar TAB consists of six lines, each line represents a guitar string. The lines are laid out as though you had the guitar lying down face up on your lap and were looking down at it, presuming you are a right handed player.

Posted Image

The vertical lines represent each bar and each bar is one measure. Because each line represents a guitar string, writing tabs is as simple as writing the fret number on each string. The horizontal axis equals time so you play each note on the fretboard from left to right.

Posted Image

The numbers on the fretboard below show the exact note order in which you would play the above tab.

Posted Image

Because the horizontal axis equals time, chords will have their notes shown in the same vertical line. The Guitar tab below shows how an A minor chord strummed four times in one measure.

Posted Image

So far so good, reading the notes from the guitar tab is easy enough, what we need to know now is the timing / rhythm information and how to read various guitar techniques such as slides, bends pull offs etc. This will depend on the various types of guitar tabs. Let's take a look at these before moving onto the more advanced parts of reading TABS.

Various types of guitar tab
Three main types of guitar tab are the ASCII Tab, plain tab with rhythm information and Tab with notation.

Ascii Guitar TAB
First let's take a look at ASCII Tab, this is quite a common type of guitar tab found on guitar forums. The thing that makes this kind of Tab unique is the whole thing uses simple text to reperesent ordinary Tab. Here is an example of the same chromatic run shown above but text generated.

Posted Image

As handy as this kind of Tab is, it has some drawbacks:

• If a monospaced font isn't used then the whole thing can become an unreadable mess.
• It relies on a standard which is fine for fret numbers but can get messy when we need to show techniques like bends, vibrato etc.
• Rarely used with timing / rhythm information.

Basic Guitar Tab
Next we have basic guitar tab with timing information. This TAB lets us know the time signature and the note duration so that we know whether we should play quarter notes, eighth notes, triplets etc. This kind of Tab needs to be in image format for the web. It's also used a lot in books and magazines.

Posted Image

Guitar TAB with notation
This is the ultimate kind of guitar tab, we get two staffs. One with full notation and the other with basic tab like the one above.

Posted Image

As we can see, guitar tabs with note timing value makes a lot more sense. Even though most text style of tabs you find on the internet has no indication of note duration, it is still possible to include it to an extent. Ascii tab exported from Guitar-Pro for instance does show note duration by placing text above the TAB. Here is an example of guitar Tab exported from Guitar-Pro using the same chromatic run as above played with eighth notes. The 'E' indicates an eighth note.

Posted Image

Guitar-Pro Guitar Tab Legend

Posted Image

How to read guitar tab in ASCII format
Here are a few examples showing how to read guitar tabs various techniques with ASCII tableature

Slide up from fret 3 to 5 on the third string

Posted Image

Slide out downwards from the 5th fret third string

Posted Image

Pull off from 8th fret to 5th on the first string

Posted Image

Hammer on from the open B string to the third fret

Posted Image

Typical pentatonic lick with bend, played as 8th note triplets

Posted Image

How to read guitar tabs in standard Guitar TAB format
Here are the same five examples shown in standard tab format.

Posted Image

Posted Image
Posted Image

I hope this helps at least one person. If it does, I'll consider it a success ^_^

#2 dorio

dorio

    Editor in Chief®

  • Ombudsman
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 17,755 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Pepperland
  • Donator:No
  • Original Name: dorio

Posted 14 April 2010 - 09:32 PM

HOW TO READ AND WRITE GUITAR TABLATURE

A GUIDE TO TABLATURE NOTATION

Written by Howard Wright
Howard.Wright@ed.ac.uk

Copyright Howard Wright and the olga-grunts

http://guitartabs.cc/tabfaq.php






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Please consider donating to GuitarZone.com.
With more and more people using ad blocking add-ons for browsers, ad revenue has plummeted.
If you can spare even US$5 it would mean a lot to help pay for GZ's monthly server bill.
Thank you to all. Cheers! --Rob



Method #1: PayPal



Click 'Donate' above
to donate with any
major credit card or
existing PayPal funds.


E-mail on record with PayPal
[ ]



Method #2: Bitcoin


Option A )  Scan Bitcoin QR Code


Scan above box with mobile phone, or click...



Option B )  Copy and Paste Bitcoin Address

  13NA7exoZVPGBAxnKXcQAz35JQ5PvnhYDE  


Copy above address and paste into Bitcoin app...



Learn more about Bitcoin...