Guitar Tab Cheat Sheet

If you’ve just started playing guitar, then there’s a good chance that you get confused about a lot of things, and probably quite frequently. Many guitar players who decide that its time to embark on the wondrous voyage of music, start their educational activities by learning tab, or guitar tablature.

Tablature is a lot easier to read than standard notation, and in many cases its easier to side read at the guidance of tab. If you’ve just started playing, or have been playing for a while, then you already know this to be true.

However, the guitar is a very immense instrument in terms of what you can do with it. Because there are so many techniques and accents available to the axe, naturally there are a ton of tab symbols to denote these actions, so I thought that I would tab out as many of these symbols as possible. This article will serve as a sort of tab legend, and if it helps you, then you may just want to print off for future reference.

Before I continue, I really need to explain guitar tab to anyone who is unfamiliar with it. You can skip this section if you’ve already got it down.

Tablature, or tab, is represented by six horizontal lines, that are stacked one on top of another. Each line represents a string on the guitar. It looks like this:


Instead of use staffs to represent notes, we use numbers to indicate what fret to play. There are so many numbers of frets per string on a guitar, and depending on the guitar, it varys, but still we can represent the 4th fret on a string with the numeral 4. With that, we now have this:


This piece of tab indicates that we play the 4th fret on the Low E string, and then play the 7th fret on the A string shortly after this.

Chords are represented by stacking the frets on top of each other, like this:


Tab does have its pitfalls, as it cannot tell you what fingers to use for the fretting notes, nor does it always represent timing and rhythm accurately, but after playing for a little while you start to develop instincts that make this no problem in the long run.

Tab Legend

I cannot explain to you every symbol that is here in great detail. What I mean by this is that I cannot go into the “how-tos” of the techniques or accents. If you want to learn how to actually perform any of these techniques, or accents, I suggest that you try this book.

L – tied note
x – dead note
g – grace note
(n) – ghost note
> – accented note
N.H. – natural harmonic
A.H. – artificial harmonic
T.H. – tapped harmonic
S.H. – semi harmonic
P.H. – pitch harmonic
h – hammer-on
p – pull-off
b – bend
br – bend release
pb – pre-end
pbr – pre-bend release
brb – bend release bend
p.m. – palm mute
\n/ – tremolo bar dip
\n – tremolo bar dive
-/n – tremolo bar Release up
/n\ – tremolo bar inverted dip
/n – tremolo bar return
-\n – tremolo bar Release down
S – shift slide
s – legato slide
/ – slide into from below or out of upwards
\ – slide into from above or out of downwards
~ – vibrato
W – wide vibrato
tr – trill
TP – tremolo picking
t – tapping
< – fade in
^ – up stroke
v – down stroke