Learn how to read guitar tablature & standard music notation with these online guitar lessons. Although not necessary to play the guitar, the ability to read guitar music on a basic level will improve your overall musicianship. At the very least learning to read and understand rhythms will help you in all aspects of playing guitar.
This guitar lesson is all about converting notation to tab. Standard notation is the written language of music for all instruments. But learning how to read standard notation all over the neck of the guitar takes a good bit of time and effort. Therefore it’s often a skill that’s not developed by many guitar players.
If you play rock, blues, country, or some other popular styles of music, then spending your time honing advanced reading skills is probably not something you’re going to do. Popular music styles are most often written in an easier to understand form of notation that’s specifically for string instruments called guitar tablature, or guitar tab for short. And some guitar players just play by ear.
Reading Guitar Tablature
There are a lot of different symbols you can see in tablature, but in a nutshell there are 6 lines that represent the strings of the guitar, and numbers on those lines that represent the frets. The bottom line is the 6th strings, and the top line is the 1st string. With tablature even a beginner can easily figure out where to play the notes of a song.
I do think having a basic understanding of reading standard notation will benefit every guitar player. You will also learn some fundamentals about music that are hard to learn in any other way. And if you play classical or jazz guitar, developing your reading skills is a must. But many of you may only need to decode notation once in a while, and this guitar lesson will help you do that.
If you find you have to use this short cut all of the time, then it’s probably time to start working on your guitar reading skills. In that case developing your reading skills will be the short cut.
Why reading music on guitar is harder than other instruments
One thing that makes reading standard notation more difficult on the guitar than other instruments is that the same exact same note can be played on multiple strings. And on top of that you could use any of your fingers to play the note. For example, an E note in the top space of the treble clef can be played on every string (if you have a 24 fret guitar).
Top space E on all 6 strings of the Guitar
So if you are trying to determine where to play that E on the guitar, you have to make a decision based on what the other notes are around it, and what the most comfortable fingering is for the music passage would be. This is why there is not going to be one definite way to convert notation to tab. There is often more than one way to play the same set of notes.
Guitar Lesson Navigation