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How to read guitar tabs


How do I read guitar tabs?

3197 day(s) ago

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Mr. Boxy
There are two kinds of tabs: those that run left to right to follow a music staff, and those that run up and down to show individual chords.

Staff tabs



The notations on the tab follow the music staff printed above it. Each line on the tab represents a string, with low E being the bottom line. For each note, there will be a number printed on one of the strings, indicating which fret you should press when playing; a "0" is played with an open string. An "X" is played muted, with the fret hand resting against the string.

There are several symbols that can be added for different playing techniques:

A curved arrow indicates that you should slide up or down a fret, depending on where the arrow is pointing. There will be a number next to the arrow indicating how many frets to slide.

A thick wavy line above the tab or a "v" next to the notes indicate that they should be played vibrato.

A "T" indicates the note should be played by tapping on the string.

These are the most common, but there are dozens of other symbols, some of which have multiple ways of being written. Most guitar books will include a glossary at the front explaining the symbols used on the tabs.


Chord tabs

These are used to show how to play chords. The vertical lines represent the strings, with the left line being low E. The horizontal lines represent frets: The top line is the first fret. An "O" above a string indicates that the string should be played open. An "X" indicates that the string should not be played. Above the tab you'll see the name of the chord, such as "C" or "E#."

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