Learn to play guitar

Guitar Tablature


The ability to read music (standard notation) may be a desired skill, but it is not a prerequisite for playing the guitar well.  Contemporary guitarists are fortunate to have an abundance of interesting material presented in a special notation system called "tablature."

Tablature is a centuries-old system of conveying musical information for stringed instruments with frets. It is a form of musical shorthand that graphically clarifies the exact position of each note on the fingerboard. Whereas standard notation uses a music staff with 5 lines and 4 spaces, in guitar tab, the 6 (staff) lines represent the strings and the numbers on them indicate the frets.

"Tab" effectively translates standard notation into guitar-specific language.

 

Personally, I prefer tablature and what I can hear from its corresponding recording (if available), for the obvious musicality, however, standard notation, with its accompanying theories and methodologies, has helped greatly in understanding how it all works.

 

FIGURE 1

The zero on each string indicates that no fret-hand finger is required (commonly referred to as the "open-string" note). Each line of the "tab" staff corresponds to a string on the guitar.

 

FIGURE 2

Observe where the "E" note can be found on the fret board.

 

 

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FIGURE 3

Fret-hand fingering: 1st position open-string "C" major chord. The numbers on the tab staff represent the fret where the note can be found. Tab shows only where the notes are located on the fret board.  The time value of notes must be found in the treble-clef staff and/or ideally from listening to the recording from which the tab was written.

FIGURE 4

Regarding the standard notation of guitar music, generally speaking, notes with upward facing stems are part of the melody and should be heard clearly above the underlying accompaniment. Notes with downward facing stems are part of the accompaniment and should be played softer than the melody.  You will need to hear the recorded version from which the "tab" was written in order to know the precise timing and overall mood of a piece.

 

 

 

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