How To Read Guitar Tabs In 5 Easy Steps

How To Read Guitar Tabs In 5 Easy Steps

What are guitar tabs?

In this lesson, we are going to learn how to read guitar tabs in 5 easy steps.  Guitar tabs are the universal way that guitar players read sheet music.  It is a simplified version of standard notation (regular sheet music you’re normally used to looking at in music books) and resembles a framework that is specific to the guitar.

Is learning to read guitar tabs important?

Yes!  The reason why it is important to read guitar tabs is that it allows you to discover musical passages that you otherwise might not of learned.  Watching someone play guitar on video is fine, but when you’re looking at the written page, your brain processes this information quite different.  If you can learn how to read tabs, they are not only going to open your eyes to something more, but also allow you to be able to remember what you are playing.

How to understand guitar tabs.



As you can see from the pictures above, guitar tabs are the same thing as regular notes.  They’re just written differently.  Look at the chart above and see clearly at the top you have regular notes, and on the bottom you have numbers. In the guitar picture, you can clearly see that the numbers represent the frets & strings.

These numbers, represent the notes, just presented in a different way to make it easier to read.  The only thing that’s confusing about tabs, is that your biggest string is on the bottom, but on the top of your guitar fretboard.  So when reading tabs you must remember this.  The reason for this is because, in sheet music, the lowest note is always on the bottom.

The lines above are on what’s called a musical staff that is made up of five lines.  The tab below represents the 6 strings of the guitar, and the numbers represent where to put your fingers on the fretboard.  So basically, we’ve converted hard to understand notes, into easy to understand numbers.

This is great for kids (because they understand numbers) and great for adults because they do too.  Also If you notice. the numbers are in the same location as the notes above, meaning they are the same.  Just written differently.

What do the numbers mean?

The numbers mean that’s, where you’re going to place your fingers on the guitar fretboard to play the written music.  In this example above, the 2 represents the 2nd fret, the 3 represents the 3rd fret and the 0 represents no fret (open)  This means you pick the string without putting a finger down on the fretboard.

In this example, there is no staff line above, just the guitar strings and the numbers.  This makes it even easier to read, and how it’s now commonly written.  As you can see, this is a musical passage that uses all 6 strings and 1-4 frets.  The vertical lines in between, represent the measures or break up of the beats of music.

You know, 1 2 3 4.  In some books you’ll see the count underneath, but not always.  In this example, you have 8 beats per measure (1-8) 0r 4 (1&2&3&4&) depending on how you count it.

So in remembering how to read guitar tabs, I recommend these 5 easy steps.

Step #1.  Guitar tabs are written like standard notation (just simplified)

Step #2.  They don’t give every bit of information (but enough to get you started)

Step#3.  The numbers represent what frets to play on the guitar fretboard.

Step#4.  0 = Open (pick the string without putting a finger on the guitar fretboard)

Step#5.  Horizontal lines represent the 6 strings of the guitar (biggest on the bottom, thinnest on the top)

So there you have it.  5 easy steps to learning how to read guitar tabs.  Follow these steps and you can’t go wrong.   If you want to learn standard notation, great it’ll just make you better.  But start off with tabs first.  You’ll get to playing faster with much less frustration.  And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

And if you haven’t already.  I recommend you grab my FREE action-guide “Beginner Guitar Secrets”  to help you excel in your learning.

Best of luck,


Learn Guitar for Increased Brain Power Benefits

UnknownIt has been proven time & time again that there are benefits to learning guitar for increased brain power.  Did you know that?  Yeah, it actually does.  Scientific research has shown that it really helps your mental health in many ways than one. And is very important for your everyday activities of life.  Here are a few examples to prove this theory.


Eye-Hand Coordination Improvement:Unknown

This is a skill that we use constantly in our everyday life and probably don’t even realize it because we do it without even thinking about it.  And Learning to play guitar helps keep this skill up to par due to coordinating the two hands when strumming rhythms or rocking out hot guitar solos.  Not to mention looking at the fretboard in doing so or trying to read sheet music.  All incorporate improved eye-hand coordination.

Motor Skills Enhancement:Unknown-2

We also use motor skills every day in all aspects of our lives as well in just about everything we do.  Learning to play guitar is widely known to help improve these skills and keep them sharp.  When playing guitar you are improving your motor skills by working with multiple concepts that make up laying the instrument.  Strumming, forming chords, reading tabs, playing melody lines.  So this is definitely a good reason for learning guitar.

Confidence & Self Esteem builder:Unknown-1

We need to have confidence in ourselves in order to enjoy life.  Every day we wake up we need to have something we feel good about to get us through the day in a positive manner.  Once again it is widely known for a fact, that learning guitar helps to accomplish this.  When you learn to play guitar and play the music that makes you feel good it raises your confidence level.  When people see your accomplishment it builds your self-esteem and makes you want to continue.  What better reason to learn guitar?

Increased Ability To Focus:images-1

Focus is another thing we use every day in our life.  Focus on where we are at, focus on where we are going and focus on where we have been.  Playing the guitar helps to increase this because there is so much focus necessary when playing music.  No matter if it focuses on what the two hands are doing, reading music or playing a 5 min song.  The focus is necessary and playing guitar helps improve this without a doubt!

Memory Retention:images-1

Memory is part of the brain that we use every day as well.  And this faculty of the brain must be exercised daily for us to remember.  Without it, we wouldn’t remember where we live, what our name is or what we need to do for the day.  Playing the guitar helps this every day as well.  When learning guitar you are learning a lot of different things that need to be remembered.  Like chords voicing, scales, fretboard anatomy and ultimately, your favorite songs. Believe me, guitar playing helps to increase memory function and is a great reason to learn it.

Build Social Skills:Unknown

This is one of the most important functions we need to develop as human beings on this planet.  Without it, we can’t express ourselves through vocal communication.  Playing the guitar helps develop this skill greatly.  It allows you to express yourself in a unique way most people can’t and it allows you to get your ideas across to people if you decide to play with others.  No matter if it’s a small resemble or a large group.  Learning guitar has proven time and time again to help improve social and communication skills.


So there you have it, a few reasons why you should learn the guitar.  There are many more, but these are just to name a few.  When you take on the journey of learning to play an instrument all these things help improve your life in every way.  Not to mention that there is no cooler instrument on the planet to learn than the guitar!  And when your talking rock guitar, I believe that goes without saying.

So why not take some time and learn how to play guitar and improve your own well being.  Take it from me, you’ll discover things within yourself you never knew existed.  Until our next lesson, take care.  And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Sincerely, Guitar Teacher, Dwayne Jenkins