Acoustic Guitar Tablature ‐ Is It Real Sheet Music?
As a beginner acoustic guitarist you're probably wondering whether learning your songs from guitar
tablature is as good as getting them from "real" sheet music. Learning to play acoustic guitar is a great
adventure which is sometimes spoilt a bit by the prospect of having to learn to read music. But for most
acoustic guitar players, learning all the symbols and theory connected with musical notation is not really
Tablature for acoustic guitar has certain points giving it an edge over standard music notation. Actually
historians tell us that tablature was used to record musical compositions long before conventional
notation. They don't seem to have much idea how musicians attributed note values to compositions
they has never heard played. Maybe it wasn't an issue in the sixteenth century.
So what do you learn from tabs? Tablature shows diagrammatically where finger positions are indicated
using numbers representing the guitar's frets along horizontal lines representing the strings. The note G
played on the first (thinnest) string is shown by the number 3 written on the top line of the tablature.
Sometimes the person writing the tablature will group the notes together to show that they are all the
same value but this is not a hard and fast rule.
Hammer‐ons, string bends, pull‐offs and other techniques are shown by symbols. Each tablature writer
has his own idea of the best way to show how to play the music, and he usually includes a legend
showing his symbols on each tab. With the aid of guitar tabs, you can learn new music quickly without
going to the additional trouble of learning conventional music notation.
Despite the fact that tempo and time signatures are not included, sometimes it's easier for the guitarist
to pick up music from tablature. The ease with which you can learn to read tablature means that your
progress on the guitar is not slowed by the need to cope with such things as the use of alternate tunings.