How to Read Guitar Tabs - Tablature for Beginners

Guitar Tabs or Tablature is the most easy and user friendly way of communicating and sharing guitar music. Unlike normal musical notation which uses notes and symbols, guitar tabs utilizes easy to understand numbers, characters and formatting, which anyone, even without prior musical knowledge or musical education, can understand.

Guitar Tabs is also the most popular way of writing music for the guitar, it is commonly shared throughout the internet and in various websites including

To start I want you to look at your guitar and you will clearly see that it has six strings going from thickest to thinniest. On a TAB diagram, the thinnest string, (or 1st string as its most commonly called) is at the top - The thickest (or 6th string) is at the bottom.

Tablature is read left to right and may include special characters to indicate when to use guitar techniques like hammer-ons, vibratos, etc

Guitar Tab Diagram:

Here's a video on how to read guitar tablature:

More advanced and detailed guitar tablatures will contain duration legends and well as symbols to indicate guitar techniques. This is to properly convey how a lick or guitar progression should be played.

Symbol Legend:

Tablature Legend
L - tied note
x - dead note
g - grace note
(n) - ghost note
> - accentuded note
NH - natural harmonic
AH - artificial harmonic
TH - tapped harmonic
SH - semi harmonic
PH - pitch harmonic
h - hammer on
p - pull off
b - bend
br - bendRelease
pb - preBend
pbr - preBendRelease
brb - bendReleaseBend
\n/ - tremolo bar dip
\n - tremolo bar dive

-/n - tremolo bar Release up
/n\ - tremolo bar inverted dip
/n - tremolo bar return
-\n - tremolo bar Release down
S - shift slide
s - legato slide
/ -  slide into from below or out of upwards
\ -  slide into from above or out of downwards
~ - vibrato
W - wide vibrato
tr - trill
TP - tremolo picking
T - tapping
S - slap
P - pop
< - fade in
^ - brush up
v - brush down

Duration Legend
W - whole                  H - half
Q - quarter                 E - 8th
S - 16th                      T - 32nd
X - 64th                      . - note dotted
|-n-|  - n-tuplets
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