Introduction to Tablature and Guitar Techniques

If you're brand new to guitar or bass guitar and anything in-between, you're going to need to know how tablature (the newer system of reading guitar music) works. Below if an example of a piece of tab with a simple riff. You read from left to right, and each number represents a note played, when more than 1 note is played at once, all the notes that need to be played will be shown like the example of the 'open G chord'. It is a visual representation of the guitar strings, but the highest E string, the thinnest one at the bottom of your guitar, is shown as the top line of the tablature and the low E is at the bottom. The numbers represent where your fingers should be on the fret board. A '0' means you play that string open, in other words without fretting anything.

guitar tablarature technique

Once you have your head around this, you want to move onto special notation, which show you when to use special guitar techniques, which will also be explained.

The Hammer On

When you see this symbol, a lower note followed by a higher note with an inverted bracket above and/or an H, play the first note, then sound the second note by fretting it but without picking.

hammer on guitar tablarature technique

The Pull Off

The pull off is the inverse of the hammer on. When you see the same symbol, but with a lower note following the first one, play the first note, then sound the second by lifting your finger.

pull off guitar tablarature technique

If there is no 'P' or 'H' indicating if it is a hammer on or pull off you can figure it out by easily. If the first number is higher than the second it is a pull off. If the first number is lower it is a hammer on.

The Slide

When you see the slash symbol going directly from one note to another, play the first note and then smoothly slide your finger to the second note with the same finger.

slide guitar tablarature technique

String Bends

When you see notes shown like this, sound the first note, then bend the string by pushing it upwards to sound like the pitch of the notes shown in brackets.

bend guitar tablarature technique

The Glissando

A glissando is a small slide that is at the end of a notes rhythmic duration. If the slash is going upwards, slide up, and if it's going downwards, slide down. Do not slide to the next notes in the tab, just a tiny slide in the direction the slash indicates.

glissando guitar tablarature technique


You create vibrato on a note by smoothly bending up and down quickly and releasing the note.

vibrato guitar tablarature technique

That sums up all of the basic guitar techniques. Once you have nailed them all, start looking for full tabs which can be found online or at guitar stores and your can learn to shred like Hendrix!

Written by Chris

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Comments (2)
Pages | 1

i never new it was this easier

by rhemmy on

Reading tabs is so much easier!

by Ned on
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