December 12, 2023

How to read tab

We always receive many emails from our JamEdge Newsletter subscribers about reading TAB. We thought this topic was already covered or that most beginner guitarist knew how to read TAB, but I guess that there are hundreds of new beginner guitarists everyday, so I think it’s well worth revisiting TAB and of course how can you read it.

First of all, TAB or tablature, unlike traditional music notation is written specifically for the guitar and as such has six horizontal line representing the six strings on the guitar. Numbers are written on each of these lines to indicate the frets to place your fingers at to play a particular tune.

Techniques such as hammer-ons and pull-offs are represented in different ways and most tab writers will indicate how they have notated these techniques. It might simply be with the shorthand H or hammer-on and P for pull-off. TAB is not only a great way to show which chords are played in the song, but also riffs, intro, breaks and solos.

Once you become familiar with how TAB is written it is a very useful tool to help you learn to play songs, easy and fast! – I’ve learned heaps of songs thanks to reading TAB; it is very handy, especially if you are wanting to create a repertoire quickly.

TAB is also very easy to write, therefore the Internet is a very rich source for guitar TAB, you will find any song you are wanting to learn to play, so have a go searching for guitar tablature once you are happy with the concept.

Probably the best way to become familiar with TAB is having a look at our lesson about reading and using TAB.[video_embed src=”″ title=”Reading and using TAB” image=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/mark-stave-vai.jpg”/]

And you should also check out Wikipedia’s article about TAB as they have a very complete chart with all the techniques and its symbols.

Reading TAB is a quick and easy way to get up to speed with playing songs. However, there is a, like anything a small learning curve, but I’m sure you’ll have a better understanding after completing the lesson above!

Ready to start learning songs? Check out our post about finding songs to learn.

I really hope this helps and best of luck!

Learn more about Jon Coursey on his Google profile.

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