If you have ever tried to learn a song on guitar then you have probably used tabs. Guitar tabs are a much easier way to learn songs than having to learn traditional sheet music.

To make things even easier, some premium guitar communities have started offering guitar tabs with step-by-step video tutorials to walk you through every part of a song.

We've found and rated all the lessons that come with guitar tabs and video tutorials and compared them below:

Guitar Lessons JamPlay Guitar Tricks
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Rating: 98.2%
Rating: 96.8%
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6,000+ Lessons
1,172 Hours
11,000 Lessons
1,000+ Hours

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Tabs & Notation

Are you illiterate when it comes to reading sheet music?

The World Wide Web has found a way to bypass the need to learn sheet music by presenting song information in an easy-to-read format known as guitar tabs. While it is still very important that you eventually learn to read music, guitar tabs provide you with the opportunity to skip a lot of jargon, and immediately dive into guitar lessons.

What are guitar tabs?

Guitar tabs, short for tablature, is a form of musical notation where it is not necessary to understand how to read individual notes and/or other symbols found in sheet music. Instead, guitar tabs tell you where to finger notes on the fretboard via a numerical system.

Although tablature became very popular with the invention of the Internet, the method has actually been around since the Renaissance. It’s considered easier to transcribe and read compared to “staff notation” (more on that in a minute).

How to Read Guitar Tabs

Guitar tablature is outlined by horizontal lines that extend the length of the page. When examining these lines closer, you will discover that there are six or the same amount as the number of strings on your guitar.

Thus, the first thing to note is that each line on a guitar tab represents a string on the guitar. The top line is the low-E (thickest string, highest to the ceiling), followed by the second line (A), third line (D), fourth line (G), fifth line (B), sixth line (high-E).

When a number appears on one of the lines it signals the guitarist to play that string. The number tells you where on the fretboard to fret. So, if you see the number 2 on the second line, you need to strum the second string (A) two frets from the nut (or top) of the guitar. If the number reads 4, you count down four frets from the nut. If you come across a 0 that means that you strum the string open (open=unfretted).

Whenever you run across a tab that has more than one number stacked on top of each other directly above or below each other, it’s signaling you to play a chord (chord=3 or more notes played together). You need to strum all strings with a number, and, if applicable, ignore any strings without a numerical representation.

What is staff notation?

Staff notation, or simply “notation”, is standard music notation. If you took a music theory class in high school or college, it is the clefs, notes, rests, beats, measures, key signatures, time signatures and other symbols that compose the score. It’s the traditional, old-fashion way of reading music.

Guitar Tabs vs. Standard Notation 

It will take some time to accurately read standard notation. You’ve probably heard the term “music is language” and standard notation is the universal communication among musicians that tells them what to play and where to play it.

While some famous musicians never learned to read music (Paul McCartney, for one), it is highly recommended that, at some point in your musical journey, you take the time to learn it. It will make your life easier in the long run.

With that being said, understanding standard notation is not a requirement at first. Guitar tabs will teach you the same music as standard notation in a simplified version. And, unlike a lot of notation, tablature is easier to find on the Web.

The major cons to using guitar tabs are that anybody can submit them on the Internet. Unfortunately, they’re not all accurate, and some of them are just plain wrong. Also, guitar tablature (unlike staff notation) does not usually tell you anything about the rhythm of the song.

Guitar Tab Lessons 

Guitar tablature is regularly available on the World Wide Web. Whether you are searching for a way to play “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, or basic guitar tab lessons, both are readily available. The best guitar tab lessons are found on sites like Ultimate-Guitar.com, GuitarTabs.net, 911Tabs.com and AZChords.com. Guitar tabs are played in real-time on Songsterr.com.

Standard Notation Guitar Lessons

You might be able to find scores to popular music on the World Wide Web, though it’s rarely offered for free. Your best bet is to pick up a song book from your local music store.