Guitar tablature (also called "tab"), is a form of music notation which indicates notes on specific strings and frets on the guitar. Tablature is one of the oldest forms of music notation for stringed instruments, and is very intuitive to learn. This page will teach you everything you need to know to read guitar tablature.
In guitar tablature, there are six evenly spaced horizontal lines, with numbers written on them.
The word TAB, written on the left side of each row, indicates tablature notation. Sometimes, a time signature and bar lines are added to the tablature as well, but this is not common.
Read guitar tablature from left to right, like reading a book.
Each number on the tablature represents a specific note on the guitar. The lines and numbers together indicate exactly which string and fret you should play.
Each tablature line represents one of the six strings of the guitar. The top line represents the 1st string, followed by the 2nd string, and so on:
When you see a number written on one of these lines, that indicates which string you should play.
While the lines indicate which guitar string to play, the numbers indicate which guitar fret to play on that specific string:
Note: The number 0 means to play the open string, without placing any fingers on that string.
So, if you see the number 3 written on the 1st line in tablature, that means to play the third fret of the first string.
Or if you see a number 0 written on the 4th line in tablature, that means to play the open 4th string.
When multiple numbers are stacked horizontally in tablature, this indicates that you should play the notes simultaneously (as a chord).
For instance, if you see 0 on the 1st line, a 2 on the 4th line, this means to play the open first string and the second fret of the fourth string simulataneously.
In modern tablature notation, there is no clear way to notate rhythm. You can approximate the rhythm by looking at horizontal spacing of the numbers. Most people figure out tablature rhythm by ear, because they are already familiar with the piece.
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