July 25, 2011

How to read Tablature

I think tablature, also known as tabs, are simple and easy to read. It is a method of writing music that I prefer over sheet music. It consists of letters and numbers, kind of like the board game Battleship: you see a letter, go to the fret and sink that note! Each letter represents a string and each number represents a fret (you know, those little perpendicular lines on the guitar neck). The order of strings from the lowest to highest in standard tuning would be EADGBe. Note that by "lowest" I mean the lowest in pitch and by "highest" I mean the highest in pitch. If you put your guitar on your lap with the strings facing the ceiling, it should look something like this:

You read tabs from left to right. Each column you see is like a 
word - it may have many notes or few notes but no matter what you 
say, it's still just one word. If you see more than one number in 
a column, you play them all at the same time. 
Look at your A-string and put your middle finger on the second 
fret. A|2
Now keep your middle finger there and put your ring finger on the 
second fret of the D-string. D|2 
Now strum your guitar. All of the strings. 
^^ If you did it right, you have just played this Em chord. I'll 
explain chords another day.
Try playing this. 
If it sounded anything like DoReMiFaSoLaTiDo, you have just played
a major scale. This scale in particular is the G Major Scale. 
We'll go in-depth with scales another day. Try to practice this 
scale forward and backward, if you're up for the challenge. When 
you become adept at reading tabs, you'll be able to write your own
music! If you are new and become easily frustrated, take a deep 
breath, relax, and try again another time. Remember that the human
body was not designed to play guitar. Take it slow and after much
patience and practice, you will improve.

Don't forget to have fun!

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