Tab Explanations And Chord Instruction

This is geared toward reading Guitar Tablature
For explanations of drum tab click here

      Guitar Tablature, also known as tab, notation, tabliture and taleture all refers to the same thing. It is not sheet music in the traditional sense.  It is a system for communicating the 'place' on the guitar neck where you play the note.  This is not the same as reading music.  It doesn't give you the timing of the notes (how quick or slow to play them) so you must already know the song.  The main reason for using tab is that some people are not able to read sheet music.  Tab allows for another method of communicating notes on paper to people unable to read full music keys.  Basically, you can learn to read tab in about 2 minutes.  So lets get started learning ...
     In guitar tab, each string is represented by a line (that is why there is 6 lines - for the 6 strings on the guitar).  To understand which string is which, pretend the guitar is laying on your lap with the strings pointing up.  Look down at the fret board.  The strings are in the same order as they appear in guitar tab.
Guitar Head
Would Be Here
 E------------------------1st string-------------------------------------
 B--------------------------2nd string----------------------------------
 G----------------------------3rd string--------------------------------     Guitar Body
 D------------------------------4th string------------------------------
 A--------------------------------5th string----------------------------
 E----Fattest String----------------6th string-------------------------

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Below is a simplified version of the first section of "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The number represents the fret number where your finger should be positioned.
The number 0 means you should play that string open (not pressing on any fret)
You move through the music from left to right so in this example you would play:
Fourth string (D) played twice without holding down any frets (open)
Second string (B) played once with your finger on the 3rd fret
Third string (G) played once with your finger on the 2nd fret
And so on ........

 E--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 B-----------------3--------------------------------3----------------------------------------
 G-----------------------2-------------------------------2-------------------------------0---  
 D-----0---0---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 A-------------------------------------2---2-------------------------------------------------
 E-----------------------------------------------------------------------------3---3---------

One other problem with tab is that it doesn't tell you which finger to use.  You will have to experiment with which fingers make it easiest to play, but ultimately as long as you play it in the correct fret, it will sound right. 

Below is a simplified version of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
This one shows you how to read chords in tab.  Again, the number represents the fret number where your finger should be positioned.  The number 0 (zero) means that you should leave that string open (but still strum it as part of the chord)

                 Chord G              Chord D           Chord  C

 E----------------3-------------------2-------------------0--------------------------------------
 B----------------0-------------------3-------------------1--------------------------------------
 G----------------0-------------------2-------------------0--------------------------------------  
 D----------------0-------------------0-------------------2--------------------------------------
 A----------------2---------------------------------------3--------------------------------------
 E----------------3-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Below are the symbols used in tablature.  
They are listed with the most commonly used at the top.

h hammer on
p pull off
b bend
r reverse bend - aka - release bend
s slide
s/ slide up
s\ slide down
(#) optional note - aka - ghost note
<#> harmonic
t tap on
v vibrate
~ warble 
sq squeal note

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