What Is Guitar Tab?

Guitar tab ("tab" is short for "tabulature") is an alternative to traditional musical notation. Instead of specifying what note you should play, and letting you figure out how to play it (remember, one note may show up at many places on the fretboard), guitar tab makes things easier by telling you what string and fret you should be playing.

How Do I Read Guitar Tab?

Here's an example of a C Major scale on the top 3 strings:

E -----------5-7-8-8-7-5-----------
B -----5-6-8-------------8-6-5-----
G -5-7-------------------------7-5-
D ---------------------------------
A ---------------------------------
E ---------------------------------

Each line of the tab represents one of the strings of your guitar. The top line represents the "top" or highest-pitched string, and the bottom line represents the "bottom", lowest-pitched string. At the head of each line you can see a letter indicating the tuning of that string - the E-A-D-G-B-E sequence should be familiar to you.

The numbers in the tab represent notes to be played - in this case, each number means you should finger that fret and pluck that string. You should play the notes in the order they are shown, from left to right. Thus the diagram above is telling you to:

...and so on.

Note that it doesn't tell you which finger you should be using to fret a particular note; on GuitarCardio.com, each exercise is accompanied by a scale diagram that shows suggested fingerings - see our instructions for more details.

Is That It?

That's everything you need to know to play the tabs shown with GuitarCardio.com exercises. There is, however, a great deal more to guitar tabulature, including ways to represent hammer-ons, pull-offs, harmonics, palm muting, and everything else you can do on a guitar (short of smashing it, Pete Townshend-style). Many guitar magazines that include music and tabulature will contain printed guides to reading tab. There are many online guides as well - 30 seconds with Google should turn up plenty of options.

Now that you know what you're doing - get to it, and start working that fretboard!