How To Read Guitar Tabs
How To Read Guitar Tabs
Have you ever wanted to play a classic rock song on the guitar? Well, you can, with this video, that shows you how to read guitar tabs.
A guitar tab is for those people who can't read music. It's essential, if you're trying to read a guitar tab, that you know the song already, because you cannot determine lengths of time from tabs. We have a tab here of a very famous tune called Smoke Stack Lighting by Howlin' Wolf.
So, the way it works is this: the thin string, the thin A string on a guitar (this is in regular tuning), this is the fat string down the bottom, and what happens is as time progresses, it moves across to the right of the diagram, so the first occurring there is an open string; that's the zero on the bottom note; that is this. The next event is the open top string, the thin string, the top E. Then the next event is the third fret on the thin string, the open E, and you'll notice here we've got a little arrow and a quarter written over it that denotes a quarter-tone bend that sounds like this.
So, I'm not quite bending a whole tone, which would mean I'm bending it to number four, but I'm bending the note nonetheless, so together, we have three instructions there, but we don't know how long each lasts; it could go like this. In actual fact, the records, it sounds like this and then we've got a series of other instructions which we don't know how long they last. So, that's the difference between written music and tablature.
Okay, so, the next instruction we've got on this is that we should hit the second fret on the third thinner string which is a G string, and we've got a little line here with "sl" written above it; what that means is that you should then slide your finger along, and it tells you where to, the fourth fret on the same string. I'll show you what that sounds like, so I hit the second fret and I slide along the fourth, so altogether, so far we've got this. I'll do that in slow motion, so we've arrived there.
The next event that occurs is the third fret on the B string, the second thinnest string. We regard ourselves as being in the third position on the guitar. What that means is my first finger is around the third fret now because I've slid my second finger up to the fourth fret on the G string, so now my first finger is in the third position near the third fret.
So, sometimes, in good tabs, you'll get these roman numerals over the top, and they can be very helpful because they're telling you where your hands should generally be, otherwise you're jumping all around the place and not knowing, really, what's going on, so you can play all these next three notes while staying in the third position. I'll show you there, that's third fret on the B string, fourth fret on the G string, and you'll remember I've just slid up to that position already, so I've gone, so I'm in third position now, one, two, three. Altogether, so far we've got- back into the first position, play fret two on the G string and the open G string, so I'm going to go like this and then we're going to play fret two on the D string.
If you have any trouble with the strings, the names of the strings, the fattest string is called an E. The next one is an A. The next one is a D.
The one after that is a G. The one after that is a B and the one after that is E again. So, you've got an E here and an E here.
The second E is said to be two octaves higher than the first; they should ring well together. So, following the tab, I'm going like this. One last important thing you might find in tabs is bends, so this is a famous sound, you'll hear it a lot.
So, what's going on there is I've bent a string to sound like another note. What's happened, I've played twelve on the thin string, I've played the fifteenth fret on the next string, the B string, and I've bent that string up to sound like seventeen, so that's why you've got fifteen with an arrow and a bracket seventeen. The seventeen in the brackets tells you what the note should be sounding like; so if I play the note on the seventeenth fret, it'd sound like this.
So, I'm going to try and bend t