How to Read Guitar Tab - Free Guitar Tablature Sites.

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 26th, 2010

Guitar tab is a method of diagramming the fretboard of a guitar for the purpose of showing how songs, riffs, scales, and other musical portions are played.

Guitar tab, also known as tablature, is really a method guitar players have invented for sharing music without having to learn to read music in the traditional sense. Knowing how to read guitar tablature is an important part of learning how to play the guitar, especially if you wish to emulate the style of your favorite performer.

Learning how to read guitar tablature will help the most if you have already heard the song or riff. It is not a very good way to learn a new song, because there are no indicators about timing. Basically it is just a diagram of fingering. It looks similar to a traditional staff, but the similarity ends there. Instead of 5 lines, guitar tab has 6 lines, which correspond to the six strings of a guitar.

When you are learning how to read guitar tab, you will notice numbers on the lines. Those numbers do not refer to your fingers, but to the fret your finger needs to be on. However, you should read all the information given with any guitar tablature, because sometimes the notations refer to different things. Guitar tab is not a standardized method of writing music and varies with styles and guitarists.

One of the biggest drawbacks with guitar tab is that it doesn't give you much input about the timing of the notes, and for this reason, you really should know the song. In fact, if you are learning how to read guitar tab, you should read the tablature while listening to the song or riff.

Unlike beginning books for teaching yourself to play guitar, guitar tab will not tell you which finger to use on a string. If you are a very new beginner, you may want to know the basics of chords and such before venturing into learning how to read guitar tablature.

The website "Guitar Tab Universe" ( gives tabs for many familiar songs. In fact, it advertises itself as the Internet's largest collection of guitar and bass tabs. One warning - you'll have to scroll through a lot of band names to get to the artist you want, and some of those names are obscene. If obscenities bug you, try a different site. gives you access to tabs or chords for 631 songs by 111 contemporary Christian bands and artists. provides you with tabs, lyrics, and/or guitar chords for many country songs.

In general, if you are searching for online guitar tabs, you need to specify the type of music you desire or you will probably get a lot of listings for rock tabs. Fortunately, you are sure to find just the songs to use to teach yourself how to read guitar tab.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
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