|Reading Guitar Tablature: Bends, Slides and More|
Here are some of the little details that you'll need to know to fully understand how to read guitar tablature. Be aware that some of these symbols vary, depending on who created the tablature.
It's most common to see the letter h representing a hammer on, located within the tablature between the original fret, and the hammered on fret (eg. 7h9)
Ocassionally, you'll see the ^ symbol used for either a hammer on or pull off (eg. 9^7)
String bends are often notated several different ways in guitar tablature. Often, a b is used, followed by the fret at which the original note should be bent to. For example, 7b9 would indicate that you should bend the seventh fret until it sounds like the ninth fret. Sometimes, this target note is included in brackets, like this: 7b(9). Occasionally, the b is omitted altogether: 7(9).
Generally, a / symbol is used to notate an ascending slide, while a \ symbol is used to notate a descending slide. So, 7/9\7 indicates sliding from the seventh fret, up to the ninth fret, and back to the seventh fret. If no number precedes the slide symbol, this indicates sliding from an indiscriminate fret.
It is also not uncommon to see the letter s used to notate a slide. This is somewhat less concise, as when sliding from an indescriminate point (eg s9), it is unclear whether to slide up to the note, or down to the note.
Miscellaneous Tab Notation
The use of vibrato can be notated several different ways in tablature. Most often, the ~ symbol is used, often strung together to appear as ~~~. Sometimes, vibrato will be simply notated with a v.
A string mute is almost always notated with an x. Several x's in a row, on adjacent strings, is used to notate a rake.
Right hand tapping (for right handed guitarists) is generally notated in tab via a t, in conjunction with the pull off and hammer on techniques used when executing right handed tapping. Thus, 2h5t12p5p2 represents traditional tapping technique.
When notating the tab for harmonics, the <> symbols are usually used, surrounding the fret which the harmonic is played at.
This should give you all you need to get started reading and writing guitar tablature. Again, if you're serious about music, it highly advisable that you learn standard notation as well as tablature. The excellent Modern Method for Guitar will get you sight reading almost immediately.Okay, enough talk... time to get started learning beginner song tabs. Have fun!