Reading guitar tabs can be challenging for beginners and often times tab sheets are written slightly differently. The tabs that I create for lessons on this website are written with specific notation and in a way that is consistent throughout all the tab sheets.
Guitar Tab Staff
Let’s start with the basics of how to read guitar tabs. If you already know this stuff, just skip to the next section.
Tabs are distinguished from traditional notation by the number of lines in the staff and the presence of the word ‘TAB’ before the first measure. Guitar tabs are a visual representation of the guitar fretboard. Tabs have six lines running across the staff which represent the six strings on a guitar. The line at the very bottom of the staff represents the low E string on the guitar. Followed by A, D, G, B and E. The sixth line at the top of the staff representing the high E string.
The numbers indicate the fret position starting at the top of the neck near the headstock. The first fret would be represented as a 1, the second fret a 2 and so on. If the song is in 4/4 time, each measure will represent 4 quarter note beats. If a capo is to be used,
Pick Direction Notation
Tabs include notation at the top of each note that indicates the pick direction to be played with your picking hand.
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