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Learn to read guitar tablature
This guitar lesson explains how to read and use guitar tablature. Guitar tab, is used in place of music notation.
Guitar tablature instruction: A six line staff that represents the guitar fret-board. When reading tablature, numbers indicate which fret you play. Each line equals the guitar strings.
In the illustration below, the second fret on the G string is being played. The number 2 shown above, represents the 2nd fret, on the G string.
When you read guitar tablature, the lines on the tablature illustration, represents each string on the guitar. Look below and notice each string and placement. There’s a red line on the Low E string, this is the fattest string on the guitar. You do not have to use your middle finger to play the note, you can use your index finger if you like.
Look at the the first tablature example above. This tablature example has the number 2, this represents the second fret on the 3rd string. Play the 2nd fret G string. The note you just played is the A note. Each line in tablature represents each of the guitar strings. The numbers on each line or string represents the fret number you play. So, the number 2 on the G string, this means you play the note at the 2nd fret G string. This would be the A note. The next illustration below, shows a 12 on the first string, E and a 12 on the second string, B. Both of these notes are played together at the 12th fret, e and B string. The illustration below shows the E major chord.
E Major Chord Listen Look below and notice how the E chord would be displayed in tablature. Since all the notes illustrated below are lined up on top of each other, they would be strummed or played together. The 0’s are left open, strummed open. Each number represents the finger you use to fret the note.
Look below and notice how the A minor chord would look like written in tablature.
The next Illustration below, is that famous A minor pentatonic scale again. This time it is shown in tablature and also in the Root Note Position at the 5th Fret. In the last lesson, I had you working on the A minor pentatonic scale with the fingers highlighted. This time in the image below, the frets are numbered on each string. I stated earlier that it is important to learn the fingering pattern system. The reason for this, is that eventually we will only be showing the numbers representing the frets on the strings and not the fingers to play each note of the scale. You will eventually have the fingering for each scale memorized anyway. Look at the image below and notice how it starts on the Low E string, 5th fret. In the image below, the index finger is playing the note on the Low E string, at the 5th fret. This first note would be the first 5 or 5th fret below.
The numbers below the strings, in the image above, are the fingers that play the notes through the scale. Look below and notice what number equals for each finger. The scale above, is the same scale as below. The image above is shown in tablature. The numbers below, represent the fingers to play each note.
The fingers used to play the pentatonic scale above are: 1-4, 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, 1-4, 1-4.The video below shows how to use the 5th fret-position.
Watch a Video playing this scale The illustration above, shows the same A minor pentatonic scale in tablature form in the root note position. The image below shows the same scale, instead of the fingers, it shows each note.
Here’s an example using the Am pentatonic root note fret position. Notice how the lead guitar part starts on the A note 7th fret, play this over the Am chord. The numbers under the lead, are the suggested fingering to use.
- We still need to practice some fingering exercises and understanding tablature will make the exercises that much easier to work on. Don’t worry if you don’t have the A minor pentatonic scale in the root note position memorized, we will be working on it again. Fingering exercises.
- You should practice this progression in A minor. See if you can learn it without a video and just use the tablature.
The video below, walks you through this lesson and in a little more in depth.