Tablature has 6 staffs, 1 for each string on the guitar. Each staff should either have a dash or a number on it. If there is a dash, you play nothing on that string. If there is a number, you should play the corresponding fret number.
To the right is an example of a 'G' chord, 'C' chord, and an 'Am' chord. Notice the 'G' chord. The 3 on the top should be played on the HIGH-E string. The 3 on the bottom should be played on the LOW-E string. Because all 6 listed are stacked on top of each other, they should all be played at once. The same thing applies to the 'C' and 'Am' chords. Notice the dashes on the LOW-E string. That means you don't play this string.

DONATED
TAB DIAGRAM

A LITTLE MORE ADVANCED

When there are two notes directly under each other, you play them at the same time.
For example:
--0--
--0--
--1--     This is an E Major chord played on the same strum.
--2--
--2--
--0--

-----------0--
---------0----
-------1------
-----2--------   These are the notes of an E Major chord played one after the
---2----------   other (an arpeggio).
-0------------

So think of all the notes on the same vertical line as one count of the measure, played on the same strum.
The ------'s mean the string is muted, for example...  (Sometimes a tablature writer will use an X for a muted string)
------
------
--1--   This is an E Major chord with the B string and the high E string muted.
--2--   you can do this by simply resting your finger (in this case your pinky finger)
--2--   over the last two strings without pushing down. This will mute the strings.
--0--

Also, if you see something like this...
--X--
--X--
--X--
--X--   This means just to rest your entire hand on the strings and make a muted
--X--   rhythm type noise by strumming with the strings muted.
--X--

Donated by: Riffhead (aka my son)

MORE ADVANCED STUFF!
(sample song)

E------[2]-------------   --------------------
B-------5---2---5-----   --------------------
G--6---4---2---4-----   -2---2---4---4----
D--7---2---4---2-----   -2---0---5---2----
A--7---x---4---2-----   -0---0---5---2----
E--5---4---2---0-----   -x---1---3---0----

This is how the strings are represented in tablature, the thickest string (low E) is the bottom line of the six line staff.

1st string - High E --
2nd string           B --
3rd string           G --
4th string           D --
5th string           A --
6th string - Low E --

Think of each vertical line as notes that are played together, for example...

-----
-----
-----
-----
--3--   This is the third fret on the fifth string.
-----

-----
-----
--0--   This is the 3rd string played open.
-----
-----
-----

--15--
--15--   1st string, 15th fret, 2nd string, 15th fret,
-------   played together.
-------
-------
-------

So on your fretboard the frets are numbered as so...

-----------+
   head-   | 1st   2nd   3rd   etc.
   stock E +-----+-----+-----+
         B |-----|-----|-----|
         G |-----|-----|-----|
         D |-----|-----|-----|
         A |-----|-----|-----|
         E +-----+-----+-----+(low E)
           |
-----------+

I will show you for each chord of your sample song exactly what to do...

**************
* 1ST CHORD  *
**************

Now consider your index finger  = finger #1
                  middle finger = finger #2
                  ring finger   = finger #3
                  pinky finger  = finger #4


I will mark with X's on the fretboard where to put your fingers and the number of the finger 
I recommend you use next to the X



 E-----
 B-----
 G--6--
 D--7--
 A--7--
 E--5--


    1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th
E +-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----
B |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
G |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|--X2-|-----|-----
D |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|--X4-|-----
A |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|--X3-|-----
E +-----+-----+-----+-----+--X1-+-----+-----+-----(low E)


Once your fingers are in these positions, play it all in one strum, being careful not to strum the 1st and 2nd strings.

*************
* 2ND CHORD *
*************
--[2]--
---5---
---4---
---2---
---x---
---4---

    1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th    7th   8th
E +-----+-[X]-+-----+-----+-----+------+-----+-----
B |-----|-----|-----|-----|--X4-|------|-----|-----
G |-----|-----|-----|--X3-|-----|------|-----|-----
D |-----|--X1-|-----|-----|-----|------|-----|-----
A |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|------|-----|-----
E +-----+-----+-----+--X2-+-----+------+-----+-----(low E)


Now, this is very difficult to play. the [   ] brackets around a note mean that the note is optional and only adds to the fullness of the sound. Since in this case it is extremely difficult to play this note , we will ignore it. There are other ways of playing this than the finger positions I gave you, feel free to try it another way if this is too hard. In chords like this, it's ok for some of the notes to sound muted, you'll just have to experiment and see what works for you. Be careful not to play the 1st string unless you choose to play the bracketed note.
*************
* 3RD CHORD *
*************
-----
--2--
--2--
--4--
--4--
--2--

    1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th>
E +-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----
B |-----|--X1-|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
G |-----|--X1-|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
D |-----|-----|-----|--X4-|-----|-----|-----|-----
A |-----|-----|-----|--X3-|-----|-----|-----|-----
E +-----+--X1-+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----(low E)


In this chord, bar the 2nd fret with your index finger (lay it across all the strings and push down hard). Then put your 3rd and 4th fingers as shown. This sort of chord may seem hard at first but with practice will be very easy to play. Be careful not to strum the 1st string.
*************
* 4TH CHORD *
*************
-----
--5--
--4--
--2--
--2--
--0--

Note: I have denoted playing an open sting by making it all 0's.

    1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th  8th
E +-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----
B |-----|-----|-----|-----|--X4-|-----|-----|-----
G |-----|-----|-----|--X3-|-----|-----|-----|-----
D |-----|--X1-|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
A |-----|--X1-|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
E +00000+00000+00000+00000+00000+00000+00000+00000(low E)


Use your index finger to bar the 2nd fret, put your other fingers where shown, play the 6th string open, and be careful not to strum the 1st string.
*************
* 5TH CHORD *
*************
-----
-----
--2--
--2--
--0--
--x--

    1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th
E +-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----
B |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
G |-----|--X2-|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
D |-----|--X1-|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
A |00000|00000|00000|00000|00000|00000|00000|00000
E +-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----(low E)


Note: You don't have to use these fingers for this chord but it will make the transtition to the next chord a little easier. Place your fingers where shown and be careful not to strum the 1st and 2nd strings. Since the 6th string is shown to be muted, you can either not play the 6th string, or rest your thumb on the string without pushing down to create the desired muted sound.
*************
* 6TH CHORD *
*************
-----
-----
--2--
--0--
--0--
--1--
    1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th
E +-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----
B |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
G |-----|--X2-|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
D |00000|00000|00000|00000|00000|00000|00000|00000
A |00000|00000|00000|00000|00000|00000|00000|00000
E +--X1-+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----(low E)
Put your fingers where shown and be careful not to strum the 1st and 2nd strings. Play the 4th and 5th strings open.
*************
* 7TH CHORD *
*************
-----
-----
--4--
--5--
--5--
--3--
    1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th
E +-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----
B |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
G |-----|-----|-----|--X2-|-----|-----|-----|-----
D |-----|-----|-----|-----|--X4-|-----|-----|-----
A |-----|-----|-----|-----|--X3-|-----|-----|-----
E +-----+-----+--X1-+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----(low E)
This is the exact same hand position as the first chord of the sample, only now it starts on the 3rd fret indtead of the 5th.
*************
* 8TH CHORD *
*************
-----
-----
--4--
--2--
--2--
--0--
    1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th
E +-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----+-----
B |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
G |-----|-----|-----|--X3-|-----|-----|-----|-----
D |-----|--X1-|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
A |-----|--X1-|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|-----
E +00000+00000+00000+00000+00000+00000+00000+00000 (low E)
The easiest way I feel to play this is to bar the 2nd fret with the index finger, and put the other finger where shown. You can do it differently if more comfortable. Play the 6th string open and be careful not to strum the 1st and 2nd strings.

This should help you get started, and remember this takes alot of practice to do good, especially at changing between chords smoothly so keep working at it if it seems to hard because it will get easier.

Most commonly used symbols:

h - hammer on
p - pull off
b - bend string up
r - release bend
/ - slide up
\ - slide down
v - vibrato (sometimes written as ~)
t - tap (with strumming hand)
x - muted, struck string

Donated By: Riffhead (aka my son)

 

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