Learn to play the guitar using tabs

  • “I would love to learn to play the guitar”… Everyone has uttered this phrase at some point whilst rocking out to their favourite rock song or chilling to their favourite acoustic smooth ballad. Maybe some of you have even gone as far as thinking about buying a guitar, or even had one in your hands and tried to strum a few chords.

    Many beginners don’t understand the instrument in their hands and think that they need to study music theory to be able to play a few tunes; it can seem like an impossible challenge. In some ways you would be right to think this, but in many ways you would be wrong. For beginners there are solutions for you to be able to start playing your favourite tunes sooner than you would expect and without going to guitar classes.

    You may not believe it but you do not have to be able to read music to play the guitar and some other instruments. With the method we are about to explain to you, it is actually more important that you know the song you want to play than understand the complicated notes and music system that you see professional musicians read when they play.  This method is called reading tabs.

    Learning to play by reading tabs is a very common way for guitar fans to play their favourite songs. The guitar is very popular but many people are put off by music teachers and professionals who talk about time signatures, octaves, staffs and the like. By reading tabs you can get straight to the heart of the song and play those notes straight away on your guitar.

    It’s a very simple system. The diagrams you follow and read represent the guitar itself. The diagram has 6 lines and points of where you put your fingers on the fretboard. Normal sheet music has 5 lines and gives you no indication of where your fingers should be.

    The tabs system has six lines, each line represents a string of the guitar. The line on the top of the tabs diagram is the first string (nearest your head) and the sixth line is the bottom string (nearest your foot). The numbers in the tabs system represent the fret number on the fret board and where you should put your fingers. If you see a number ‘3’ on the sixth line this means you should press down on the 3rd fret and play the sixth string. Chords are represented by different numbers on different strings in the same picture.

    Using this method, reading from left to right it is fairly easy to start to play music, especially if it is one of your favourite songs, as you will know the rhythm and how it sounds in the original. It is always better to start with songs you really know as the tab system does have some limitations.

    The tabs system does not tell you how long to hold the note or the tone. This has been improved over the years by tab writers adding symbols to reflect the way in which the notes and chords should be played. Remember that you can also add your own notes and scribbles to your tabs pages to remind yourself of how the song should be played and whether you need to hold that emotional tear jerking chord or strike it hard and rock out.

    Anybody can learn to play the electric or classical guitar. It is definitely not something for people with a musical ‘gift’. With the tabs system you can start playing the guitar today and show the world your passion and love for music.