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Ultimate Guitar Tab Lesson 1

By Eric S
 

I have been studying ultimate guitar tab for over 15 years. Ultimate guitar tab changed my life and allowed me to play music without the knowledge of how to read music. I actually did know how to read music, but ultimate guitar tab was much easier. Using ultimate guitar tab, anyone can play the guitar, there is nothing hard about it, put your finger behind the fret of the proper line and you will get the desired sound. Of course, ultimate guitar tab is a little more complicated that this, but basically, it is that simple.

 

 

 

 

 


While many guitarist pride themselves on 'not knowing how to read music', it would be foolish for any person studying guitar, the amazing tool of ultimate guitar tab. There are a few basic symbols for reading ultimate guitar tab, but it is so easy I have taught 5 year old kids to play the guitar using ultimate guitar tab.

Are you read to learn how to read ultimate guitar tab?

Guitar tab is comprised of 6 lines, the lowest line is the top string on the guitar and the highest line is the bottom string in guitar, reverse if you want to think about ultimate guitar tab like that. If you wonder why it is reverse...it is because the lines actually reflect the pitch of the instrument, the lowest line has a lower sound and the higher lines have a higher sound. Pretty cool, eh?

So here is a basic diagram based on the strings on the guitar, remember, opposite, or reverse order.

E----FIRST STRING (STRING FARTHEST AWAY FROM YOU)
B---- SECOND STRING (SECOND STRING FROM THE BOTTOM)
G----THIRD STRING (THIRD STRING FROM THE BOTTOM)
D----FOURTH STRING (THIRD STRING FROM THE TOP)
A----FIFTH (2ND STRING FROM THE TOP)
E-----SIXTH STRING (TOP STRING CLOSEST STRING TO YOU)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is what an E Major Chord would look like, the numbers represent the fret number you want your finger behind on that string, if all the numbers are stacked on top of each other that means play them all at the same time:

E --0--------
B --0--------
G --1--------use your 1st finger, your index finger
D --2--------use your 3rd finger, ring
finger left hand
A --2--------
use your 2nd finger, middle left hand finger
E --0--------

Sometimes chords are written like this:

 

E--------0--------------------------------------------------------
B-------0---------------------------------------------------------
G------1----------------------------------------------------------
D-----2-----------------------------------------------------------
A----2------------------------------------------------------------
E---0-------------------------------------------------------------

The one aspect that ultimate guitar tab is missing compared to proper musical notation, is it's inability to communicate timing. My suggestion is to use tab only as a guide to the right notes, listen carefully to the music that comes out of the speaker to understand the timing of the playing. So this may mean to play an even strum with all the notes the same length because they are the same distance apart and grouped together.

E------------------0----------------------------------------------
B---------------0-----0--------------------------------------------
G------------1-----------1-----------------------------------------
D---------2-----------------2--------------------------------------
A------2-----------------------2----------------------------------
E---0-----------------------------2--------------------------------

If notes are spaced like this, play them consecutively in time:

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E---0--2--4--5--4--2--0------------------------------------------

Common Ultimate Guitar Tab Symbols:

h - hammer on
p - pull off
b - bend string up
r - release bend
/ - slide up
\ - slide down
v - vibrato (sometimes written as ~)
t - right hand tap
x - play 'note' with heavy damping

This is what a hammer on could look like.

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A---------6h7-----------6h7--------------------------------------
E---0--0----------0--0-------------------------------------------

You pick the first note and hammer on the second note. Which would mean play the open E twice, then hold the 6th fret and hammer on the 7th fret with your 2nd finger, picking only 1 time, the first note, for the sound of both notes. A hammer on. You're hammering on the second note. Ultimate Guitar Tab is Awesome!

Pull offs look the same, but with the opposite, you pick the first note and pull off the second note :

E----3p0-------------------------------------------
B---------3p0--------------------------------------
G--------------2p0---------------------------------
D-------------------2p0-------------0h2p0h2p02~~~~
A------------------------2p0-----------------------
E---------------------------- -3p0------------------

Bends are when you pick the first note and bend that note up to the sound of the next note, so in the following example, you would listen to the sound of the second note, the 7th fret on the 2nd string from the bottom, then move your hand back to the 5th fret and pick the string, then bend it and hold it to the sound of that note 2 frets higher.

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------5b7-------------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

It takes years to get good at bending, there are many different styles of bending in ultimate guitar tab. A quick bend, a slow bend, it is best to listen to your guitar hero's bend and try to make it sound like them.

'r' means return, so you would bend the 7th fret up to sound like the 9th, then 'return', bring it back down to the 7th frets pitch.

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------7b9--9r7--------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

Sometimes, it will say bend up: 1/4 - a little bend, like an emotion bend. 1/2 - the sound of 1 fret higher 1 - the sound of 2 frets higher

Slides are used to pick the first note, then keep pressing down and move your finger to the next note. You can slide both up and down in ultimate guitar tab, each has its own symbol. You may see 's' instead of them, but then use your own common sense and ultimate guitar tab wisdom.

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------5/7 pick the 7th fret and slide your finger up to the 9th fret-----
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A--------------5/3 pick the 5th fret and slide down to the 3rd fret----
E----------------------------------------------------------------

What about this? How do you know where to start or end the slides?

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------/7-9-7\---------------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

There is no definite point, listen to the music, you will see the sound fades in already in motion. Start moving your left hand on the string and then pick that string a few frets before you get to the first note.

You could have a whole series of slides running together, like this

E----------------------------------------------------------------
B------5/7/9\7\5\7\5--------------------------------------------
G----------------------------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------------------------------
A----------------------------------------------------------------
E----------------------------------------------------------------

Well that should get you started, I will blog a few more things about Ultimate Guitar Tab, GET READY!

 

Eric Stein is a singer/songwriter/guitarist that has been playing music for over 20 years. Eric has taught professional guitar for over 5 years enjoys sharing his knowledge of music with others. Check out one of his Ultimate Guitar Tab (http://ultimateguitar.blogspot.com/)blogs here!

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