Guitar Tab is variation on true notation by utilizing numbers and symbols to indicate when and what to play, for Guitar, Bass, Mandolin and other stringed instruments. The lines represent a string for the appropriate instrument (i.e. guitar tab has six lines; mandolin would have 4) and number is then placed on the lines, representing what Fret you should place your finger.
Articulation - these are additional notations that will instruct you to play hammer-on’s, pull-off’s, bends, mutes, vibrato and other subtle techniques.
Because Tab is not true music notation, there are limitations as to what Tab will show you. Rhythm is not indicated within the context of Tab, nor is the length of each note as it is played. It will be important that you listen to the song when you attempt to play the song back, unless you are very familiar with the song.
Introduction to Tab
Guitar.com uses our proprietary web-based Tab Generator, TabWizard. TabWizard makes tab creation very simple, fast and easy-to-use. Even novices can create tab as simply as point and click.
If you already know how to use tab and would like to get started, click on the link below.
If you’d like to take the text walk thru - read on. We also have a instructional video to assist you. Just click on on of the video links on the left.
Go to this link for the TabWizard: www.guitar.com/tabwizard
Once you launch TabWizard, it will take a few seconds for the program to load so please be patient.
After the program has loaded, you will need to enter the name of the song along with the related details.
Click on the “Song Settings” link on the top menu bar. This will open a window that allows you to enter the song title, the artist/band as well as the related tags; type, part, instruments, music style and the level of playing. This will help others find the Tab you’ve created after you’ve saved and published it. If you don’t name the Tab at the beginning of the process, when you go to save the Tab, you will then be asked for this information.
Now you’re ready to get started to create and upload your tab. If you have the tab created in a TXT file on your computer, you can cut and paste it by simply turning the TabWizard “OFF”. This button is located on the far left of the ToolBar, located below the tab entry window.
To create Tab, take the cursor and point and click to the very start of the top left of the upper most tab. TabWizard will provide you with two staves of 6 lines. You can add more staves by going to the Top Menu and clicking on “Insert” - and then “New Staves”. You’ll need to put the cursor where you want the new staves added in order for the insert to work.
You can also change the type of instrument from the drop down menu below shown above. When you change this, the neck will adjust the number of strings and tuning normally recommended for that instrument.
Begin to add notes to your staves. You do this by pointing your mouse to the neck of the instrument, at the fret location and the correct string that you want to place the appropriate number on the tab - now click. You will then see the number appear on the tab, corresponding to the fret and string you clicked on the neck, in this example, the 1st string, 7th fret:
Continue with your tab. You can also add Chords by clicking on the CHORDS button on the right hand side of the ToolBar:
Chords will appear like this:
At any point during your Tab creation, you can hit the “PLAY” button, which is located directly to the right of the “CHORDS” button mentioned above. The PLAY button will only play one tier of tab at a time. So as you advance through your tab creation, you’ll need to move your cursor from section to section, in order to hear the playback of the tab you’ve created.
Although Tab does not permit indicators for Rhythm and meter, you can add space between the placement of each note (so to speak). When you place a note onto your tab, if you want to create the feeling of rhythm, you can click the space bar, adding time, between when one fingering will be played to the next. This can also give you the feeling of a longer note as well as attempting to mimic rhythm. Spaces can be added one-at-a-time or two-at-a-time, depending on your needs. You can find the space bar immediately to the left of the DELETE button. The button with two lines, represents 2 spaces. To the left of that is the button for 1 space:
Articulation is the means by which you’ll help others better perform your Tab by guiding them with indicators such as bends, slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs and much more. You have several means by which to introduce these articulations.
You’ll note below that the ToolBar shows (moving left to right); “ON” - “SAVE” and then a series of letters and symbols. These are the most commonly used articulations symbols:
h = hammer-on
p = pull-off
/ = slide up
\ = slide down
b = bend
r = bend release
x = mute
more = this button will give you many other options with regard to articulation.
You’ll also find a glossary in the “more” section. This will help you to better understand this feature and it provides definitions for the many terms you see listed here
Moving Right Along with Tab
As you saw when you entered your Song Settings at the beginning of this process, you can create Tab for:
The Whole Song
The Main Riff
Depending on what you’re trying to score with your Tab, be sure to provide enough information to get your point across. Some Tabs, you’ll find, are incredibly accurate, others not as much. Adding articulation, chords and other details will help your tab rely how to the play the song clearly.
This is as simple as point and click as well. If you’ve made a mistake in placing notes, you have several options in editing this placement.
- You can highlight the note and click on the appropriate neck and string location.
- You can highlight the note or series of notes in a section and go to the Top Menu - Edit - Select Clear. This will remove the notes without shrinking the stave. The make the correct placements
- With Chords, if you make a mistake while placing the chord, each note works as a toggle. If you just hit the note a second time, you can remove the wrong placement, then hit the correct note.
- Undo - will undo the previous action or command
- Redo - will redo the previous action or command
- Copy - This is listed in the Top Menu under Edit
- Paste - This is listed in the Top Menu under Edit
- Paste Replace - this allows you to overwrite a section. Once you copy a section, you can place your cursor within a passage - if there are notes just in front of the cursor, this paste command will write directly over those note placements
- Paste Insert - this will place additional notes on the stave, without deleting anything. Once you copy a section, you can place your cursor within a passage - and any notes in front of the cursor will move further along the stave.
- Clear - this allows you to remove any placements without deleting the staff
- Delete - this will remove any placements but it will also delete the portion of the stave that is highlighted
- Trim - this allows you to automatically cut the length of the stave down to a length you choose
- Auto Correct Trim Width - this automatically trims the width of the stave for maximum width for Guitar.com
You’ll also note that you can add Leadsheets in Tab, which is largely just Lyrics and Chords. The simplest way to do this is to turn off the features on the TabWizard ToolBar. It’s the first button on the left - currently it will say “ON” - click this once and it will say “OFF”:
Now you can either cut and paste your lyrics into the program or you can begin typing as you would in a normal text editor. Add your chords accordingly - and if you need to add a riff or lead pattern in Tab, turn the TabWizard back on and create the sections you need, right within the Leadsheet! How simple is that!!
Tips on how to improve your Tab Writing Skills
Here are a few easy to implement ideas to help improve creating tab
- Use the space bar to give your tab some room.
- Piling up the numbers can really become messy and cluttered if you’re not careful. If you’re having trouble reading the placement of your notes, just think how others are going to see this. Putting in a few spaces in the proper places can make all the difference in your Tab.
- This is also true when adding lyrics to either your Tab or your Leadsheet. Make sure you leave enough space so that the Tab is easy to read and follow.
- Make a Legend for your Articulation
- Some Tabbers will use numerous articulation symbols to get their message across. It can really help to have a reference guide or a Legend that a player can refer to. You can locate this at the top or the bottom of the song, depending on your preference but most players will place it at the bottom.
- Labels - identify important parts of your Tab
- It can help to identify parts of the song. This can definitely help newer or novice players or people that are new to Tab.
- Label things like “Verse” or “Chorus” or “Bridge”.
- Intro and Outro are also helpful but not essential.
- When creating solo Tabs or riffs within Tab, it is essential that you identify the riffs in a song by number (riff1, riff2 etc), should there be more than one.
- Capo and on what fret
- Tuning; standard, alternate, DADGAD, etc
- Playing style; aggressive attack, slow and moody, strumming with muted attack; anything that helps better define the performance
- Additional instrumentation; play with 6 and 12-string; add mandolin, etc
- Guitar.com maximizes their column width at 70 characters. When you set up the page, keep the Tab Staves within this measure and you'll prevent the tab from falling off the right hand side of the page.