Most of you average bedroom guitarists will have no formal training when it comes to reading tabs. Tabs or sheet music is the pictorial representation of the piece of music that you are playing. Most of the professional guitarists and musicians are well adept at reading sheet music. Yes, ear training is a big part of the learning process for guitar but for practicing and picking up those masterpieces you need to able to learn to read tabs and sheet music.
Here is a list of all the basic guidelines for you to follow to make it easy to read guitar tabs. Also, invest in a music tutor or join online classes to learn all the musical theory just like a pro. Have a bit of faith in yourself and trust in us, musical theory and tablature are not that difficult to learn. So do not put it off!
However, for easy reading of guitar tabs, just read on!
Well, first and foremost the tuning. The guitar is usually tuned with respect to the circle of fifths except for the 3rd string which follows the circle of 4th tuning. In simple words, from the top to the bottom that is from the heavy string to the lightest one, the standard tuning for the guitar is E, A, D, G, B, and E again. You can get yourself tuner at a music store or even online. Additionally, you can train your ear and tune the instrument yourself. Once you have mastered the standard tuning, you can learn more about drop D and C# tunings.
You need to watch out for some of the common symbols that will make your tab reading reasonably simple.
The most widely used technique for guitar solos especially of the rock and blues variety. You can see tablature like “3-B-5” which just means you hold on to the 3rd note of the scale and bend up to match the pitch on a fifth of the scale instead of on actually playing the fret containing the note. Keep in mind not to over-bend, maintain the interval and don’t hurt your fingers either.
The “X” over a note means you need to play it mute. You can either do it by palm muting with your strumming hand or by damping the note with your fretting hand.
A staple for those rock solos, here you bend and vibrate a note sharp and fast.
Pro tip: Get your wrist in play.
Slides (\ or /)
Slides can be of the back-slide or the forward slide variety. Here you need to slide the string to the next note from the preceding one or vice-versa. This technique adds dynamism to the music!
Strokes: (U or V)
U is the down-stroke and V the up-stroke. That means you strum according to the given direction.
Advantages of learning to read tabs
Just the fact that an individual can read guitar tabs doesn’t make him/her a better player. But become a well-rounded musician who isn’t out of his depth when sheet music and tabs are put in front of him or her. You get proper ideas about the fundamental changes, tempo and other musical queues as per the requirement of the musical piece.