Guitar Classroom

Guitar Lesson Four
How to Read Guitar Tablature

Guitar tablature is probably the easiest and most used method for guitar notation. On the internet, you can find guitar notation for almost any song that you want to learn. Tablature is easier to learn than traditional music notation because it relates directly to the fret board of the guitar, indicating where your fingers should be placed. Although it is an easier method to learn it still has its weak points, the main one being that you can’t easily indicate rhythm on tablature. This means that when you learn a song you have to learn the strum from the song itself.

The following diagram shows you how tablature relates to the guitar fret board:

We use numbers to indicate the string and the fret position that you are supposed to play. Each fret is numbered, starting at the nut of the guitar at O and moving upwards towards the bridge of the guitar. The following diagrams demonstrate this principle.

The 3 on the above tablature score (Tab. diagram 1) indicates to you that you place a finger on the third fret of the sixth string. It is the note G.

Diagram here.The 1 on the tablature score (Tab. diagram 2) on the last page indicates to you that you place a finger on the first fret of the third string. It is the note C.

The O on the above tablature score (Tab. diagram 3) indicates to you that the third string is to be played open. This means that you don’t need to place a finger on it. It is the note G.

Chords and Tablature
Chords are indicated by a set of numbers that tell you which frets need to be played and which don’t. The following diagram demonstrates how an open A major chord is constructed with tablature.

The first and fifth strings are played open whilst the second, third and forth strings are played at the second fret. The sixth string is not played in the A Major Chord and this is indicated by an X.

Often tablature is written beneath traditional music score or stave. The two together looks like this:

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