Notation and Tab

Well, you can read music now. Doesn't it feel good?

There is another kind of reading that people commonly do on both the Guitar and Bass: "Tab".

The full name of "Tab" is "Tablature" and, believe it or not, is actually hundreds of years old.

Originally used as a way of notating music for the Lute, Tablature originated in the 1300's as a very useful and simple way of producing easy to read music for one of the main fretted instruments of the day.

Musical Notation with Tab is one of my favorite ways to read music. I will be using it quite often on this website when I write music for you.

Having both kinds of music together has it's advantages. When you have Tab and Notation together, playing complex and busy passages of notes becomes easier and more manageable

You need to remember that, while tab is an easy way to read music, it is usually missing quite a few things when it comes to giving directions. Tab generally doesn't have a very detailed or simple way of reading the rhythms of the written notes like musical notation does. It also doesn't allow for a lot of freedom when it comes to playing what is written. Tab is designed to give you exact directions of where to place your fingers. Therefore, you have less in the way of freedom in how you interpret the music.

As well, tabs are often found online and can be written by anyone. This means that you could be reading a tab that is completely incorrect and written by someone who doesn't know what they're doing. It's best to use both a tab AND your ears when it comes to reading them, especially when you find them online.

That being said, Tab is still a very valuable and useful addition to your reading repertoire. Most books of transcriptions that you'll find have Tab in them.

So how does one read Tab?


Here is an example of Musical Notation and Tab together:

Tab is comprised of numbers on a series of lines. Those lines refer to the strings on the instrument (i.e. A four string bass will have four lines for Tab, while a guitar or six string bass will have six lines of Tab). The Numbers refer to which frets you put your fingers on. That's it.

In this example, you can see that the written notes on the musical staff refer to the notes on the Tab below.

In tab, a C on the third fret of the A string would look like this:

While a Bb on the E string would look like this:

That's really all there is to it.

You don't really need lessons for this one. Just remember that the number corresponds to the fret and the lines represent the strings.

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