How to Read Tab Music: Tips and Tricks

What is Tab Music?

Tab music is a type of musical notation that uses a series of symbols to indicate which frets on a guitar should be played. The most common symbol is the number 0, which represents an open string. Tab music can be used to write out melodies, chord progressions, and even solos.

While tab music can be a great tool for learning how to play the guitar, it is important to remember that it is only one part of the puzzle. In order to become a proficient guitar player, you will also need to learn how to read standard notation and understand basic music theory. With that said, here are a few tips and tricks for reading tab music:

  • Pay attention to the timing: Most tab music is written in 4/4 time, meaning there are four beats per measure.
  • Tab music is typically composed of six lines, each representing a string on the guitar. The top line represents the high E string, while the bottom line represents the low E string.
  • The numbers on the lines represent which fret to press down on each string.

How to Read Tab Music:

1. Understand the Symbols

In order to read tablature, or “tab,” music, you must first understand the symbols. The six lines that make up the staff represent the six strings on the guitar.

2. Know What the Numbers Mean

The numbers that are placed on these lines tell you which fret to play. For example, a “3” on the bottom line means to play the third fret on the lowest string.

The numbers are also stacked vertically to indicate chords. For instance, if you see a “6” on the bottom line and a “5” on the second line from the bottom, this means playing a power chord consisting of the notes at the sixth and fifth frets.

If there is a zero placed on a line, this means playing an open string. An open string is one that is not being pressed down at any fret.

3. Be Familiar with the Different Voices

In order to be able to read tab music, it is important to be familiar with the different voices. The first voice is the lead guitar, which plays the melody. The second voice is the rhythm guitar, which provides the accompaniment. The third voice is the bass guitar, which provides the foundation for the other voices. The fourth voice is the drums, which provide the rhythmic backbone for the music. By becoming familiar with these different voices, you will be able to better understand how to read tab music.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice!

Tips and Tricks:

1. Use a Metronome

2. Find a Good Reference Recording

3. Take Your Time

4. Experiment with the Tempo

5. Don't Be Afraid to Make Mistakes!


Learning how to read tablature can be a challenge, but it's definitely worth it in the end. By following the tips and tricks in this article, you'll be reading tab music like a pro in no time. So don't give up – keep practising, and soon you'll be playing your favourite songs with ease.

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