We’re going to look at guitar tablature and introduce you to what guitar tablature looks like and how you can learn to play guitar tablature.

Guitar tablature or tab as they call it is just a way of representing music that makes it really easy or easier for guitarists to understand what it is they need to play and where to put their fingers on the fretboard when they’re playing guitar. So guitar tablature is often used for guitar solos but it can be used for any type of music that relates to guitar or any even any stringed instrument. So we may have in a piece of music for example the note A and on that note, on that music it says play the note A. Now where do we play that on the guitar? Well it could be this A, or this A or this A or this A or this A or this A, there are so many different A notes that we don’t know which note we should be playing and whereabouts on the guitar. So tablature solves that by giving us the lines on tablature as the strings.

So if you look at our tablature that we’ve got there now the thickest string which is E is the line at the bottom then we just work our way up A D G B and E string. So all it is is just the strings on the guitar and they could be tuned differently it may not be E A D G B E but for our example that’s what we’re using. We can also have the time signature there that would just help tell us what timing we’re playing this in and not all tablature has that but it does make it easier. 

So when we’re looking at our tablature you’ll see there that the very first notes that we have we have a zero written on the
second line from the bottom and then a number three written on the second line from the top. Remember our lines are the strings on the guitar. So if we start with the lowest one and because they’re lined up together they’re in a straight line one above the other that means you play them both at the same time. In our example we have a zero written on the fifth string what that means is to play the open string. So the zero is which fret and because it’s a zero we don’t actually put our fingers on the fret we just play the open string. At the same time as that though we need to put our finger on the third fret on the second string. Now it doesn’t tell you which finger to use but it tells you where abouts to put that so you can decide what’s going to work best.

Once you start playing some tablature you’ll start to realise or start to learn which fingers are easier to use when you’re transitioning from one note or from a group of notes to the next. So it’s okay to not know which fingers to use but you get to decide that depending on what’s comfortable what’s going to work best for you. So we have our guitar tablature with a zero and a three so zero means open string on the fifth string and then the three is the third fret on the second string.
So all we do is play them both together. So we just go like that, that’s all there is to it. If we look at the next row of notes so the next two that are lined up it is a two and an open so just gone from three on the second string down to a two and then it shows that carrying on so that sort of held and then it has a fifth the fifth fret on the first string which is up there. So you can decide which fingers to use so you can go. Notice it just repeats so we’ve got the same thing repeated in the next bar and you’ve already learnt the first two bars because they repeat over and over open and third together then open and second together let those notes hold on while you then play the fifth string. 

That’s the basics of what tablature looks like. Now notice the timing, it doesn’t always have the timing there sometimes it doesn’t but sometimes the timing can be written in the tab as well, other times it’s written below. So if you look at our timing down below this you can see that it has a dotted crotchet. So the timing would be one two three four da da so that’s our timing. If we’re playing it with the music and I won’t go into how the timing works because we’re concentrating on the tablature at the moment but trust me that’s the rhythm that I’m playing there is one two three four one. 

If we now look at the next two bars you can see we have the second fret on the fifth string so that’s second fret on the A just here and at the same time as that we’re playing the third fret back up here, third fret on the B string on the second string and then the next note after that is the fourth fret on the fifth string and the second fret on the second string. So we’ve got and then a three so third fret on the second string second fret on the third string and second fret on the fourth string. So we’ve got and then the very last bit the fifth fret on the fourth string fourth fret on the fourth string then we have an open string and then second fret after that on the second string and fifth fret on the first string and so those notes one of the other, just like that written as quavers one and two and three and four and. So doing just those two bars again that’s what it sounds like so three and two then four and two then a three two two and then slide up to the fifth fret.

Let’s play it through slowly right from all four bars. One and two and three and four and one and two and three and four and one and two and three and four and and two and three and four and one and two and three and four and. And that’s how the piece goes just those four bars.

So just from those basics or from that introduction to guitar tablature you can see that it teaches you where to put your fingers on the guitar based on the strings and also gives you the rhythm as well. So go on the internet, Google guitar tablature and you’ll find heaps of guitar tablature there you can learn just look up some basic ones first. If you do want to have a listen to the complete piece that this comes from I’ll put a link down the bottom for you so you can have a listen and see what the whole song actually sounds like.