How to read guitar tab

How to read guitar tabs

Being a guitar teacher many people have asked me how do i read guitar tabs, so I have decided to make a thread that will help people who have never read guitar tabs before have a better understanding on how to read them 🙂


Understanding the tab staff.

In order to read guitar tab fluently and correctly you need to understand what what each of the 6 lines. and the very simple description of the 6 lines is that the 6 lines are your guitar strings. The bottom line of the staff is the low E string on the guitar, the 2nd line from the bottom is you A string, The 3rd line from the bottom is your D string, The 4th line from the bottom is your G string, The 5th line from the bottom is your B string and the last line is the E string.

This is a diagram of a blank tab staff with all of the strings labeled for you so you can see what i mean.

E ————————————————————
B ————————————————————
G ————————————————————
D ————————————————————
A ————————————————————
E ————————————————————


What do the number mean?

The numbers on the tab staff are fret numbers for your guitar.
Heres an example.

E —3——————–(on the high E string put your finger on the
B ———————— 3rd fret and pluck it once)
G ————————
D ————————
A ————————
E ————————

CONGRATULATIONS! you have just read your first piece of tab 🙂

Example 2. This is what a chord looks like tabbed out.

Before anyone freaks out this is just a simple D chord in first position tabbed out.

E –2——-(means On the high E string put your finger on the 2 fret)
B –3——-(means on the B string put your finger on the 3rd fret)
G –2——-(means on the G string put your finger on the 2nd fret)
D –0——-(mean leave the D string open when your strumming)
A ———-
E ———-
Once you get all your fingers in the right place strum the bottom 4 strings on your guitar.

CONGRATULATIONS! you have just read your 2nd piece of tab.

Last example.

multiple number on the staff.

E ————————- (this time your starting on the 3rd fret of
B ——————–0–1- the A string and then going to the Open D
G —————0–2—— string, Then on the same string put your
D ——0–2–3————finger on the 2nd fret pluck it once then
A —3——————— move your finger to the 3rd fret and pluck
E ————————-it once, then your moving on to the open G string then on the same string put your finger on the 2nd fret and pluck it once, then move to the B string and your going to play it open then on the same string put your finger on the 1st fret.

Anyone who just go through that is well on there way to being an amazing guitar player, because that right there is standard C scale ascending.


What do these random symbols mean

In Tab there are a fair amount of symbols that you will run into at one time or another, So here are some of the more common symbols used in tab that you will run into.

T = Tap
m = Palm Mute
p = Pull Off
h = Hammer On
X or X/ = Pick Slide
12 = Slide down the neck
12/ = Slide up the neck


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