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What is Guitar Tab?
One of the great things about playing the guitar is how easy it is to read and write down music. This is thanks to guitar tab, which is short for guitar tablature.Read More/Less
Guitar tab is not like standard musical notation. Standard musical notation is almost like another language and it takes a long time to really master reading a writing music. Musical notation has the benefit of being used on pretty much every type of musical instrument. Guitar tab is different to this.
Understanding how to read guitar tab is simple. However, there is still a degree of skill involved in being able to read it quickly! It is still far easier than learning musical notation. At first glance, guitar tab can certainly look daunting enough. There are lines, just like standard notation, and there are numbers all over the place. However breaking it down, you can quickly see how this relates to the guitar.
Guitar tab is made up of 6 lines. There are 6 strings on the guitar and each line of the guitar tab represents one of the 6 strings. The lowest line of the guitar tab represents the thickest string on the guitar. The next line up represents the second thickest string, the A string. And this continues for each other line of the guitar tab right up to the top line, which represents the thinnest string – the top E.
Guitar tab is then written by writing a number on the string that needs to be played. The number written on the guitar tab represents the fret number you should play. For example, if you see the number 1 written on the top line of the guitar tab, this means you should put your finger on fret 1 of the top (thinnest) E string and play the note.
Guitar tab is read just like a book where you read from left to right. Each note is played in succession, however if numbers appear within the same vertical line as one another, this means that they should be played at the same time. This is another way that chords can be written.
Hopefully from just reading the above you should feel confident that you could get started with guitar tab right away. And you really should! There are so many resources online for guitar tab and it is a great way for you to quickly write down any musical ideas that you have to enable you to successfully recall it at a later time.
There are a lot of techniques that guitar players use such as vibrato, being notes, sliding notes, hammer ons , pull offs and harmonics. These are all able to be included on the guitar tab for the guitarist to read and understand. That being said, there are different ways of writing this as guitar tab and often a key or legend will be provided so that you know exactly what everything written on the guitar tab actually means.
There is one massive flaw with guitar tab. This is that it is very difficult to show rhythm and timing. Rhythm and timing is of utmost importance in music and just playing the notes alone, could well not sound anything like the song you are trying to play. Most good guitar tab books will include both the tab and the musical notation. Even with a basic understanding of musical notation you can use the tab section to guide you on the notes to play and guitar techniques to employ, and the musical notation to help out with the rhythm sections.
With guitar tabs online, there is one other thing to watch out for. That is incorrect guitar tabs. The guitar tab community is massive online and anyone can contribute. This is really fantastic though it does have its drawbacks. Primarily, someone can submit an incorrect guitar tab that you may spend hours learning, trying to master, only to then find that it is incorrect! It can be most frustrating!
Guitar tab books are a great way of getting the most accurate guitar tabs. There is a massive range of guitar tab books with tabs for specific artists or bands. You can find guitar tab books in album format allowing you to learn the guitar sections of your favourite albums.
If you have just started learning the guitar then guitar tab books can be a real help. There are many books that are designed to help beginners get started with the guitar. They often include audio disks with examples and backing tracks. Even if you are an accustomed player there are so many aspects of the guitar that you can learn and you can be sure that there will be a guitar tab books to assist you along the way!