Learning to Read Guitar Tabs

order of the strings on guitar

Let's Learn How To Read Guitar Tablature

If you just bought a guitar and cannot wait to learn a song, tablatures are going to become your new best friend. Tablature (or TABS) is a form of musical notation that indicates what fret and string should be played.

To help understand this idea let's first learn the name of the guitar strings.

Name of the Guitar Strings (open strings):

E – First string, thinner string
B – Second string
G – Third string                                      
D – Fourth string
A – Fifth string
E - Sixth string, thicker string

The guitar fretboard with the string names and fret numbers is shown in the image above, in the view you see when you are holding your guitar and looking down at the fretboard.

Now the tablature itself is a staff with six horizontal lines, each one representing a string of the instrument. The top line of the tablature represents your first "E" string (thinner string), the second line from the top represents your "B" string, etc. 

E-------------------------- B-------------------------- G-------------------------- D-------------------------- A-------------------------- E--------------------------

The next step is to add numbers in the middle of the lines (strings). The numbers simply represent the fret you should play. For example, in the illustration below, the tablature is telling you to play the third string - G (third line), seventh fret. 

E-------------------------- B-------------------------- G------------7------------- D-------------------------- A-------------------------- E--------------------------

Note: When the number "0" is used in tablature indicates that the open string should be played. 

It is also important to mention that we should always read tabs left to right, like reading a book! Let's use the example down below to better illustrate the whole idea:

Amazing Grace:

E-------------------------- B--------0----0------------ G-----0-----0----2--0------ D--0-------------------2--0 A-------------------------- E--------------------------

E-------------------------- B--------0----0------0--3-- G-----0-----0-----2-------- D--0----------------------- A-------------------------- E--------------------------

E-------------------------- B--0--3--0---0------------- G----------0-----2--0------ D----------------------2--0 A-------------------------- E--------------------------

E-------------------------- B--------0----0------------ G-----0-----0-----2--0----- D--0----------------------- A-------------------------- E--------------------------


Rod Ferreira has been teaching guitar in the Phoenix area for over 10 years, and on Lessonface for about six months. Learn more about his background and book a lesson with Rod​>>>


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