Guitar Tablature

Guitar tablature is an alternative method used to represent music, and dates in history from transcriptions for the Lute. Six lines are drawn, one for each string. Unless otherwise indicated, it is assumed that the strings are tuned E-A-D-G-B-E. Notes to be played are indicated by the fret on the corresponding string. For example, The House of The Rising Sun starts something like this:

E-----------0-----------0-----------2--------- (1st string)
B---------1---1-------1---1-------3---3------- (2nd string)
G-------2-------2---0-------0---2-------2----- (3rd string)
D-----------------------------0--------------- (4th string)
A-----0-----------3--------------------------- (5th string)
E--------------------------------------------- (6th string)

The very first note is an A played on the 5th string (open). The next note is an A on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string. Usually, an attempt is made to make the spacing between the notes reflect the amount of time the note should be played. When a barre is required, it is indicated as margin notes, as shown in the next measure:

        2       2   3 1   1 3     <=== right-hand fingering

Here, a barre is required on the 1st fret for the duration indicated. Traditionally, barres are indicated using roman numerals. In addition, right-hand fingering is sometimes included where the passage is tricky, or has more than one interpretation. Two other symbols commonly used include hammer-on and pull-off indications. The following illustrates these techniques:


In this measure, the E is originally played open, and then hammered to F#. This is followed by the reverse operation, where the F# is pulled-off to an E. For notes high on the neck, I've adopted the following nomenclature:

Symbol Fret
A 10
B 11
C 12
D 13