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Reading Tab
(By Tyson)

  What is a tab?
A tab is a system for writing down guitar and bass lines using numbers and letters rather than the standard music sheet style which makes it faster to read and play through... and much more practical for websites and other internet sources.  Tab will tell you what strings to hit, whether to use hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends, slides, harmonics and vibrato or not and whether or not you use special tuning (like drop D, half a step down, ect.)  However tab will not tell you the rhythm of the song you play.  It's up to you to figure that out by listen to the song.  Tab won't tell you where to use up or downstrokes most the time or which fingers to fret with, those things are up to you.

The basics
A standard guitar tab looks like what is shown  below, bass tabs however only have 4 strings, the low E,A,D and G, five strings also have a lower B after the E string.  Don't ask me about 6 string basses... I'm a guitar player!
e-----------------------------------------------------
B-----------------------------------------------------
G-----------------------------------------------------
D-----------------------------------------------------
A-----------------------------------------------------
E-----------------------------------------------------

'Ya see, the first e is your highest string, B is your second G's the third and so on.  Now suppose you want to play that cool little riff on the Supertones "Unite" right before the rockin' part.  So here we go... it look like this:

 
e-----------------------------------------------
B-----------------------------------------------
G-----------------------------------------------
D-----------------------------------------------
A-1-1-1-1----1------6-----1-1-1---1--4-4-4-3----
E----------1----4-4---4---------1------------4--

I probably got you lost now and before you start crying and saying "I'll never be a lead guitarist!"  Let me explain... it's easier than it looks.  The first part is on the A string (that's the second lowest) and on the first fret of your guitar which is done 4 times, (do it real fast and see if it sounds like the first four notes of the riff.)  Then go to the E string and the first fret and go back to the first fret of the A string, follow that by going to the 4'th fret of the E string twice and then hit the 6'th fret of the A string and back to the fourth fret of the E string.  (It didn't look this long on tab) now go back to the 1'st fret of the A string and hit it 3 times.  Follow that by hitting the first fret of the E string then go to the A string and hit the 1'st fret then the fourth fret three times and then the third and end by going to the E string and hit the 4'th fret!

That right there is why tab exist... because it would take forever to type out songs the way I just did. :)

Chords can also be written using tab... here's G:

 
e-3-----------------
B-3-----------------
G-0-----------------
D-0-----------------
A-2-----------------
E-3-----------------

A downstroke could be written like this:

 
e------3------------
B-----3-------------
G----0--------------
D---0---------------
A--2----------------
E-3-----------------

So of course upstrokes would be like:

 
e-3-----------------
B--3----------------
G---0---------------
D----0--------------
A-----2-------------
E------3------------

Last but not least there are several letters and symbols used in tab so here they are:
    h - hammer on 
    p - pull off 
    b - bend string up
    r - release bend
    / - slide up
    \ - slide down
    v - vibrato (it's sometimes written as ~)
    t - right hand tap
    x - play 'note' with heavy damping

Enjoy your newfound talent of reading and playing tab.



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