When learning to play the guitar, unlike other instruments, a person rarely uses written music. Instead, they rely on chord diagrams and the like. Since guitarists often don’t read music well, and since they need to designate what string they want to play a note on, they have developed guitar tab. This method, also called guitar tablature, is a way to write down a series of notes in order to teach a run or riff to another guitarist.
There are a few drawbacks to using guitar tab. For one thing, it has very little ability to transfer information about intended rhythm. It is best used when you already know how the song is supposed to sound. It looks something like a written staff with notes, but it really isn’t similar at all. In guitar tab, the lines indicate the strings, and the spots on the lines indicate where your fingers need to go.
When reading guitar tab, the bottom line refers to the sixth, or deepest pitched, string. The top line refers to the highest string, or the first string. The dot or marker on the lines are marked with a number, or sometimes there is just a number with no dot or marker. This number refers to the fret you need to finger on that string. It’s up to you to figure out which finger you want to use to do that. The notes will come in order from left to right, just like you’re reading music or written words.
If two or more notes are to be played at the same time, they will be depicted one above another. If a chord is illustrated in guitar tab, that is how it will look. O’s refer to open strings.
Guitar tab might seem awkward at first, but like anything else, it will get easier to read and follow. There are many websites online that offer numerous examples of guitar tab. In many cases, amateur guitarists have shared their own observations about popular songs, creating and sharing their own tablature. You can find guitar tab for all sorts of songs, from country to jazz and everything in between.
Again, it does not really take the place of written music, because it has no way to designate rhythm. You don’t really know how long to hold each note. And unlike written music, guitar tab would be of no value to someone playing a different instrument. It is a unique invention designed to share patterns of picking out tunes and improvising runs and licks in songs.
If there’s a song you like, chances are you can find it on one of the massive guitar tab universe type websites. These sites usually list songs according to the performer or band that originally did the song. Bands and performers are categorized alphabetically.