Reading Tablature



Reading tablature is simple. It is a method of communicating exactly where to place your fingers on the fretboard of the guitar.

When reading Tabs, every line represents a string on the guitar and every number represents the fret where you should place your fingers.

tablature explanation

Here is an example of a C chord written in tab form. If the numbers are lined up vertically, then you play those frets simultaneously as a chord.

C chord in Tablature form

If the numbers don't line up vertically, but read from left to right then you have a melody. Try this example using the opening riff to Enter Sandman.

Tablature Melody

Tab Symbols

Here are some common symbols you'll come across when reading tabs.

b - Bend the string when playing that note.

/ - This symbol tells you to slide your finger from one note to another.

h - Hammer on. This is done when you play a note and then hammer your finger on to the next rather than picking two seperate notes.

p - Pull off. This is the opposite of a hammer on. You play a note and then pull your finger off to reveal the next note.

x - Do not play that string.

p.m.- Palm mute. Done when you play a chord or note as your palm rests against the strings making a dampened sound.


The bottom line is that tabs are an easy way to communicate with you as you learn. This skill will come in handy as you learn about the different types of chords and scales and it's a great way to quickly learn riffs to the music you love.

So do you understand how to read tabs? Then it's time to move on.



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Free Guitar Tablature