Tablature is a very handy and intuitive way to notate notes for the fretted instruments, such as guitar and ukulele. Each line corresponds to a certain string of the instrument. And a note (pitch) is indicated by placing a fret number on a certain line.
In this article you’ll find:
How to read Tablature (tabs)?
Sometimes a small explanation needs to be given, then you’re ready to get the maximum out of tablature.
First of all, the amount of lines on the tablature are corresponding to the amount of strings on an instrument. So, for guitar it’ll be 6. And for ukulele? Right, 4 lines.
“Ok, but which line on the tablature corresponds to which string?” – you may ask. Let’s figure it out!
The bottom line on the guitar tablature is corresponding to the thickest guitar string (E), the 2nd line from the bottom is corresponding to the second thickest guitar string (A), etc. So, the top line is corresponding to the thinnest E string.
For ukulele the bottom line is corresponding to the G string, and the 2nd line from the bottom is corresponding to the thickest string (C).
Example of tablature for guitar and ukulele
Now it’s time to practice. Let’s write something in tablature for both guitar and ukulele. What about something very basic – how to write the Em chord in tablature?
Here is the Em chord diagram for guitar:
As you can see, for this chord we only press two strings – the two black dots indicate which frets and fingers to use. The rest of the strings we play as open strings. So, how do we notate these two pressed strings on tablature?
We press both strings, the 5th (A) and the 4th (D), on the 2nd fret – we need to place number “2” on the corresponding lines of the tablature. Can you already see which lines it’ll be?
And we have four open strings: the thickest string – E, G string, B string and the thinnest string – E. Since we don’t press them, they have the fret number “0”. Go ahead and place them on the tablature.
Congratulations! You’ve just written an Em guitar chord in tablature.
Here is the Em chord diagram for ukulele:
As you can see, for this chord we press three strings – the three black dots indicate which frets and fingers to use. We play one string as an open string. So, how do we notate this chord on tablature?
The most important thing is to determine which fret on which string we press. On the first string (G), we press on the 2nd fret – so, we need to place the number “2” on the corresponding line of the tablature. On the second string (E), we press on the 3rd fret – so number “3” should be placed on the corresponding line of the tablature.
What about the third string (C)? And what about the fourth string (A), which is an open string, indicated by the fret number “0”?
Congratulations! You’ve just written an Em ukulele chord in tablature.