How Tablature Works
Tablature made up of a staff of six lines. Each line corresponds to one string of a guitar. Picture a guitar with its neck facing you and the headstock pointing to the left. The thinnest string would be at the top and the thickest string would be at the bottom. If labeled from top to bottom the lines would be ordered e – B – G – D – A – E.
A number on the string indicates that the string to played. The number indicates which fret you should press the string down on.
Tablature read from the left to the right.
First, play the 6th (thickest) string at the 3rd fret. Next play the 5th string at the 2nd fret, followed by the 4th string at the 5th fret. Next the 3rd string at the 5th fret and then the 3rd string open. Finish this off with the 5th string at 2nd fret and finally the 6th string at the 3rd fret. This is a G Major arpeggio.
Note: a ‘0’ corresponds to an open string.
A slur a guitar technique often used by rock guitarists. It involves playing two separate notes (often on the same string) while only picking the string once. Some common slurs include hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides.
- Hammer on: For a hammer-on, the first note struck and then a finger presses against a note on a higher fret value immediately afterward. The second note effectively hammered by the finger helping to produce a tone without the need for picking.
The 1st (index) finger used to fret the 2nd string at the 2nd fret. After the string picked, the 2nd (middle) finger hammers onto the 2nd string at the 3rd fret to produce a tone without the string having to be picked again.
- Pull off: The string picked on the first note and then the finger removed in a quick fashion leaving another finger on a lower fret to produce a tone without picking. In some cases, the finger which pulled off used to pluck the string to help create the tone.
The 2nd (middle) finger used to fret the 2nd string on the 3rd fret. After the string is picked, the finger pulled off leaving the 1st (index) finger on the 2nd string at the 2nd fret.
- Slides: The string plucked and then the finger is moved along the string horizontally, either towards the nut or towards the bridge. During this movement, the finger never leaves the fretboard and an equal amount of pressure is exerted along the way. A slide can also start without a lower note being defined in which case it is a slide up to a note from an arbitrary start position. In other cases, the lower note is not plucked in which case a ghost note is indicated using parenthesis ().
These can, of course, be strung together to form complex runs.
Other special notation:
- Harmonics: These are played by lightly resting the pad of a finger against a string without pressing the string directly against the fret. The finger should be positioned directly over the fret, but should not press the string — the string should not touch the fret. Loud harmonics can be found at the 5th, 7th, and 12th frets.
- Bends: A bend is achieved by picking the string and then pushing it vertically up or pulling it vertically down using the fretting finger to produce a note higher in pitch.
- Whole note bend: The tone produced is one whole tone higher than the tone bent from.
- Half note bend: The tone produced is a one-half tone (or one semi-tone) higher than the tone bent from.
- Bend and release: Bend the note to the indicated degree and then release the note to the original tone
- Pre-bend and release: Bend the note to the indicated degree before you pick the string. After the string is picked, release the note to its original tone.
- Vibrato: This is one of the most important techniques for beginner to intermediate guitarists to master. A good vibrato helps create a beautiful tone. It is achieved by slightly bending the string back and forth to produce a slight wavering sound. It is best achieved by rotating the whole hand at the wrist (pivoting on your elbow) while keeping the fingers firm and arched. Check the resources links and study this technique.
- Sweep: When more than one note is to be played at a time, it is sometimes required that the notes be strum. In this case, the strings should be struck quickly from top to bottom.
- Dampened string/rake: In this case, the string should be plucked but no tone should be produced. Only a click should be audible. This can be achieved by resting the fleshy part of a left-hand finger over the string or by resting the edge of the palm on the right hand against the strings. Be careful not to produce harmonics when you mean to dampen the string.
- Palm Muted: When this notation is used the string should be partially muted using the fleshy part of the right hand by resting it lightly near the bridge of the guitar. The note should not be totally dampened, only partially muted.
- Right-hand tapping: This requires the hand that normally holds the pick to hammer on a specific fret creating a tone. Usually, the index finger of the right hand is used to tap the string at the specified fret.
- Ghost notes: A ghost note is not actually played but it is implied or a residual from a chord or previous run. It is often seen at the beginning of a slide or after a chord.
Guitar major scales
A scale is a pattern of intervals. An interval is a relationship between notes, usually expressed by the distance between those notes within a scale. Each fret on a guitar represents a half (semi) tone interval. That means each adjacent fret on a string is either one half-tone higher (towards the bridge) or lower (towards the nut) than the current fret.
A major scale is defined by the pattern r-W-W-H-W-W-W-H where each letter corresponds to an interval. W = Whole, H = Half and r = root. A whole tone interval is defined by a two fret jump and a halftone interval is defined by a single fret above the current fret.
When dealing with scales, although it is good to keep this in mind, it is often easiest to think in patterns. These patterns, once memorized can easily be moved up and down the fret using the root note of the scale as an anchor. This is similar to how barre chords work.
These first two patterns are really the most common form of the major scale you will find. If you learn only two scale patterns – these should be them. It suggested that you memorize them both ascending and descending.
–r5—7——————————————————–position 2 – D Major scale
These are fragments of the major scale. These patterns can open up the fretboard for you in the horizontal direction. You may find yourself caught in ‘boxes’ (especially once you pick up pentatonic scales) and these can help you break out of the boxes. Being caught in a box means that you can move around within a certain pattern, yet find it difficult to transition into another pattern smoothly.
fragment 1 – A Major scale
fragment 2 – A Major scale
fragment 3 – A Major scale
fragment 4 – A Major scale
fragment 5 – A Major scale
Guitar Natural minor scale
A natural minor scale defined by the pattern r-W-H-W-W-H-W-W where each letter corresponds to an interval. W = Whole, H = Half and r = root. A whole tone interval defined by a two fret jump and a halftone defined by a single fret distance on the fretboard.
These first two patterns are the most common form of of the minor scale you will find. These patterns are the basis for the pentatonic scales. It suggested that you memorize these patterns both ascending and descending.
–r5—7—8—————————————————-position 2 – D Minor scale
These are fragments of the minor scale. These patterns can help open up the fretboard for you in the horizontal direction. can open up the fretboard for you in the horizontal direction. find yourself caught in ‘boxes’ (especially once you pick up pentatonic scales) and these can help you break out of the boxes. caught in a box means that you can move around within a certain pattern, yet find it difficult to transition into another pattern smoothly.
—————————————————————-fragment 2 – A minor scale
fragment 3 – A minor scale
fragment 4 – A minor scale
fragment 5 – A minor scale
Guitar pentatonic scales
The major pentatonic is a subset of the major scale. it contains only 5 notes of the regular major scale. These notes form patterns of boxes on the fretboard. These are extremely valuable scales to learn as they form the basis for the majority of lead guitar heard in current popular music.
—2—r5——————————————————-position 2 – A major pentatonic scale
position 3 – A major pentatonic scale
position 4 – A major pentatonic scale
position 5 – A major pentatonic scale
The minor pentatonic scale is a very important scale to master as it is one of the most used scales in popular music. It is a basic starting point for almost any lead. It would serve any guitarist well to ensure they know this scale as well as they know their own name.
—3—r5——————————————————-position 2 – A minor pentatonic scale
position 3 – A minor pentatonic scale
position 4 – A minor pentatonic scale
position 5 – A minor pentatonic scale