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How to read Bass tabs (written)

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How to read Bass tabs (written)

Post  Admin on Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:35 am

How to read bass tabs.

Thought i'd make a quick blog post about this, as I've had a few people ask me what bass tab is in e-mails recently.

Simply put, bass tab is a simplified approach to reading music. It's commonly used and prefered by people that want to learn lines from songs quickly.

Tab shows the strings of the bass bottom to top. On four string basses, we have four lines. Five strings, we have five lines, and so on and so on...

The bass strings are drawn with the G at the bottom. After that is the D, A, and then E, as in the example below.

G ----------------------------
D ----------------------------
A ----------------------------
E ----------------------------

In bass tab, notes are indicated by fret number. The fret number is written on the string on which it is played. 0 is an open string, 1 is the first fret, 2, the second and so on and so on. This goes to the end of the fretboard, which normally ends around fret twenty-four.

In this example you are to play the 5th fret on the E-string followed by the 7th fret on the A-string, then the 9th fret on the A-string, and finally the 12th fret on the last string played (the D string).

G -------------------------------
D --------------------12----------
A --------7----9----------------
E ---5---------------------------

The gap's in-between each number (fret), denote the time spaces in which you play them. With a lot of internet tab's, these can be wrong a lot of the time, because people literally want to get the notes down. It's pretty much down to the reader to work out when to play each note.

Other markings on tab show us how we play each note:

* A forward slash ( / ) indicates a slide moving up in pitch.
* A back slash ( \ ) indicates a slide moving down in pitch.
* A caret (^) indicates a bend.
* An X (x) indicates a ghost note, or a mute.
* An H (h) indicates a hammer-on.
* A P (p) indicates a pull-off.

For markings beneath the strings:

* An S indicates a thumb slap.
* A P indicates a pop.
* A T indicates a tap. Often which hand is used is marked with an L or R and assumes you are right-handed.

So that's basically it. It's pretty simple stuff, and a good introduction to getting music down. I would, however, recommend that you try and learn "proper" musical notation as you progress as a player.

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