How to Read Tabs (for guitar, ukulele and bass)

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So you’ve just bought your guitar, bass or ukulele and you’re looking to get stuck in and play some songs, HOWEVER you’ve come across some lines with numbers and have no idea what it means, well have no fear! Tablature (tabs) are SUPER easy to decrypt and this blog will give you the basics to read tabs.

What is tablature?

Tablature (often shorted to tab) is a form of musical notation which indicates finger position rather than the pitch and thus is super easy to read.

How to read tabs – the lines

The horizontal lines represent the strings of your guitar, ukulele or bass, with the string closest to your head when you’re holding your instrument being the bottom line of the tab (so E for guitar & bass and G for ukulele).

tab lines


How to read tabs – the numbers

When you look at the neck of your guitar/ bass/ ukulele you will notice that perpendicular to the strings are little lines, these are to separate the different frets. Each fret represents one semitone.

The numbers on the tablature represent the different frets and they are written on the string you should play it on.

0 = no fret (so an open string)

guitar tab

Tabs are written in the order of when you should play them. For the ukulele tab above you would play the C string twice (with your finger on the 7th fret), the A string (with your finger on the 9th fret) and finally the C string.

When you find tabs where the numbers are written on top of each other (like below)  you need to play them simultaneously.

tab simultaneously


Check out our tutorial to teach you how to read guitar tabs and chord charts


You can now go on Jellynote and look for tabs to play! Bring up the instrument view to help you play! Check out our easy guitar tabs collection here 🙂

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