Re: How do i read tabs?

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Posted by Deman on June 13, 2000 at 16:37:18:

In Reply to: How do i read tabs? posted by Oscar on June 10, 2000 at 20:43:38:

: How do i read tabs? I am a beginner with the bass but i cant read the tabs that say things like:

: G---2----
: D-1---4-5
: A------1-
: E--3--3--
: B2-------

: And so on. If u know please E-Mail me at

: Thanx!!

Alright. Reading muisic is great, as we all know, but not always practical. If your looking for a quick way to find a song or just figure out that one hard part, tab on the 'net is the best way to go.(also useful is you are like me and just don't have extra cash for books). one of the best resources for tab that I have found is
As for reading tab, I'll give you the basics.

Tab for bass is usually written with four lines, showing the four strings. These lines are usually arranged in this order:


Tab uses nubers in these lines to show on which string and what fret to play a note. Thus, This:


Would mean play the low [E] string at the third fret, a G natural.
Tab is read left to right, just like a book. Thus:


Would be a sample beginning of a walking line in C

The following is a key to the most common symbols in tab:


h = hammer-on
p = pull-off
b = bend
r = bend release
/ = slide up/down
<5> = natural harmonic
[5] = artifical harmonic
~ = vibrato
tr = trill

These symbols are inserted in Tab with/between the number, indicating playing style. Tab is best used when you know how the song sounds, and just need to know how to play it. If you want to learn a new song, the best thing to do is get a mp3 or other copy of the song, listen, then play the tab. This concludes Bass Tab 101.
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