Reading Tablature

Register

Tablature is a quick and easy way to write guitar music on paper. The six lines represent your six guitar strings, the top line is your top string on the guitar (thin). The bottom line is then naturally your bottom string on the guitar (thick) .

tab01

Numbers are placed on each line, these numbers represent FRET numbers (not finger numbers). For example the tablature below reads, 1st note is played on the 6th string open.

tab02_print

Register

Tablature usually doesn't tell you what timing to give each note. Professionally scored tablature is written underneath normal sheet music, if you can understand note values then you can get the timing from the staff music and use the tab for a quick reference on what notes to play.

tab_happy_bday

As you can see above the timing to the notes in the song are given by the staff music and not the tab, this is why it is a good idea to learn your note values. Some music programs like Guitar Pro combine both tab and sheet music styles together by placing stems and tails with tab notes.

rhy_tab

If however, you can't read sheet music, you're back at square one. This means that the most effective way of writing music to paper is still by using the original style of sheet music. Tablature shouldn't be sight read, it is there as a quick easy way for you to memorize a song.