Lessons > Reading Tabs > Reading Internet Tabs

Reading Internet Tabs

Internet tabs are very similar to official tablature but only make use of symbols that can be found on the keyboard.

Tab lines

Each horizontal line in tablature represents a string on the guitar. There are six strings on a normal guitar, for which the tab is shown below. Notice how the tuning can be shown on the left-hand side (the example below is standard tuning).

E-----------------------------------1st string - thinnest, highest in pitch
B-----------------------------------2nd string
G-----------------------------------3rd string
D-----------------------------------4th string
A-----------------------------------5th string
E-----------------------------------6th string - thickest, lowest in pitch

Tab numbers

The numbers on the tab lines represent which fret you hold down on that particular string. Consult the example below:

E-----------------------------------------------
B-----------------------------------------------
G-----------------------------------------------
D-----------------------------------------------
A-----------------------------------------------
E---0---3---------------------------------------

Play the notes from left to right. The zero means play an open string (do not hold any fret). The 3 means hold down fret three on the 6th string (just behind the third fret bar).

Playing chords

If two notes are directly above/below each other then they are played at the same time (a chord). Most Internet tabs do not give rhythm notation so you'll have to listen to the music to work out how long each note is played for.

E-----------------------------------------------------
B-----------------------------------------------------
G---0--3--5-----0--3--6-5-----0--3--5-----3--0--------
D---0--3--5-----0--3--6-5-----0--3--5-----3--0--------
A-----------------------------------------------------
E-----------------------------------------------------

Note - some Internet tabs will give a rough idea of rhythm by varying the distance between the tab numbers (as demonstrated in the above tab for smoke on the water by deep purple).

Fingers

Sometimes numbers are placed under the tab to indicate which fingers to use. The fingers on the fretting hand all have a number, the index being the 1st finger and the little finger being the 4th finger.

E-----------------------------------------------
B-----------------------------------------------
G-----------------------------------------------
D-----------------------------------------------
A-----------------------------------------------
E---0--3--5---0--3--6-5---0--3--5---3--0--------
       1  3      1  4 3      1  3   1

Note - the above example uses a set finger for each fret. The 1st finger is used for the 3rd fret, the 2nd finger for the fourth, the 3rd finger for the 5th fret and the 4th finger is used for the 6th fret. This is called finger-per-fret in the 3rd position. If no fingering is shown in tab then using one finger per fret is a good guideline.

Symbols

Internet 'tabbers' all have their own way of writing tabs. Below are some common symbols used:

h = hammer-on
p = pull-off

/ = slide up
\ = slide down
s = slide

b = bend
^ = bend
Bu = bend up
Bd = bend down
r = release bend
pb = pre-bend
rp = re-pick

t = right hand tap
+ = right hand tap

x = muted string
v = vibrato
~ = vibrato

(5) = ghost note

pm --- = palm muted
ph = pinch harmonic
nh = natural harmonic
ah = artificial harmonic