Guitar tabs can be a great tool for learning how to play guitar. Whether you are picking up a guitar for the first time or you have been playing for years, learning how to read guitar tabs can unlock new potential for how you learn guitar.
Learning how to read guitar tabs can be difficult for some players.
That’s why Tony’s Acoustic Challenge includes structured and informative beginner guitar tutorials that cover everything from guitar tablature to playing a 12-bar blues. Start by learning the secrets to finally establish a consistent guitar routine that isn’t built around boring drills and hours of practice.
What Are Guitar Tabs?
Guitar tabs are one of the most basic ways of writing down and interpreting music for guitar players.
While some musicians learn by ear, and some learn through musical notation, guitar tabs are a special, simpler way for guitar players to learn written music.
If you have trouble learning certain songs or your ear isn’t developed, acoustic guitar tabs for beginners can help you interpret music with greater ease.
At its core, guitar tabs notate which frets are played and on what string in a six-line grid — each line represents a string on the guitar. Some tabs are basic, only telling you which frets to play.
Alternatively, some tabs also include rhythm notation to help you better understand the timing of the piece you’re working on.
Basic guitar tabs are an important tool for learning the guitar.
Because they are relatively simple to understand, many musicians pick up on songs through a combination of listening to the music and checking the notes through guitar tabs. You can find acoustic guitar tabs for beginners online or in books.
Originally published on May 22, 2019, this article was republished on August 9, 2022.
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How To Read Guitar Tabs
Reading guitar tabs is similar to reading a book. You move across the guitar tab from left to right, and the speed at which you move depends on the tempo of the song.
As you move across the tab, you will see different numbers; the numbers indicate which fret to play on your guitar.
Beyond this simple rundown of guitar tabs, there can also be rhythmic notation that is borrowed from musical notation.
There are also stylistic queues like slides, hammer-ons, vibrato, and bends that are typically notated through a legend; however, most of these stylistic notations are standard across all guitar tabs.
5 Easy Guitar Tabs for Beginners
Now that we’ve explained what a guitar tab is and how to read them, let’s take a look at a few easy guitar tabs that you can learn as a beginner.
Before You Go – Lewis Capaldi
“Before You Go” by Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi was released on November 19, 2019.
The song is one of Capaldi’s most personal, dealing with his emotional state in the aftermath of a loved one’s suicide.
It topped the Irish Singles Chart in November 2019 and the UK Singles Chart in January 2020.
It makes for a really cool acoustic song to learn and involves some fingerpicking between a few different chords.
You can find the tab here.
Like a Stone – Audioslave
“Like a Stone” is the biggest US hit from supergroup Audioslave. Released in January 2003, the song is about an old man waiting for death after all his friends and family have passed on, and to be reunited with them.
The song features a catchy intro riff that is fantastic for beginner guitarists to cut their teeth on, before moving on to some chords during the chorus.
You can read the tab here.
Scar Tissue – Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Scar Tissue” is a song that needs no introduction, but we’ll give one anyway. Written by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and released on May 25, 1999, Scar Tissue spent 16 consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks.
It’s poignant, sweet, and features a really fun-to-play intro riff!
Read the tab here.
Blackbird – The Beatles
“Blackbird” is one of the most famous songs released by the Beatles in 1968 on their eponymous double-album, also known as “the White Album”.
Inspired by hearing a blackbird while studying transcendental meditation in India, Blackbird is distinguished by its simple yet catchy fingerpicking pattern.
Once you master the guitar playing, try tapping your foot to keep time and add rhythm just like Paul McCartney does.
Read the tab here.
Wonderwall – Oasis
“Wonderwall” is the hit song released by Oasis in 1995. Lead guitarist Noel Gallagher describes the song as being about “an imaginary friend who’s gonna come and save you from yourself”.
The song has topped numerous charts around the world, and, in October 2020, became the first song from the 1990s to hit one billion streams on Spotify.
The distinctive strumming riff is one of the most iconic and satisfying to learn on acoustic guitar. And since it only consists of five chords, it’s a great song to learn as a beginner.
Read the full tab here.
More Ways to Learn Acoustic Guitar Tabs for Beginners
When you decide to start your acoustic guitar journey, you’ll find help, a sense of community, and a place to share your progress at Tony’s Acoustic Challenge.
When you join, you’ll have access to tons of lessons, close to endless guitar exercises for beginners and pros, and the ability to grow as an acoustic guitar player.
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