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Trusted Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 21
Topic starter  

Ive tried before to read tabs but I just can't get anywhere and to me it doesnt make sense, i dont know what notes im playing or where the rests are or anything. And i dont have a good ear for music or the patience to sit down and listen and slowly work it all out (Ive got major ADHD problems). Trouble is all the popular music today is written in tabs on the net and I want to get ahead and practice different techiniques and basic plucking but I just find it so frustrating when reading tabs. Maybe I should just stick to learning from music notation.

What do you think guys? Tabs or music notation?

Trusted Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 62


Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5342

Standard notation.

If you get given a piece of music you've never seen before, you can make a pretty good stab at it if you can read standard notation; even if it's not music written for guitar.

If you turn up for an audition and get handed a piece of music, and all you can do is play from Tabs, you're going to get laughed out without playing a note.

It's an interesting thought - if this website was dedicated to any other instrument, we wouldn't have this conversation because standard notation is the only choice. I'm quite often teaching a guitar student in one room at a school, whilst the strings or flute/saxophone lady is next door or upstairs, and I regularly hear them talking to quite young students in quite advanced terms about C# semi-quavers (16th notes) and all that, and my own students get standard notation from day one; but it's not surprising guitarists have such a poor reputation amongst other musicians for lacking the basic skillsets.

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
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Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 76

Please! - before continuing this thread check out this thread in the Beginners Section
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Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 652

Both is a standard answer- but if you're struggling with tabs...go for standard.

Reading tabs is NOT hard. But the stuff you're struggling with is kind of the weakness of what tabs are. You don't know what the rests are...cause they aren't there. Learn the standard notation, and those things are taken care of.

Tabs are useful- earlier today, I was emailing some friends about a song we're going to play together. None of us has sheet music for it, but no problem, easy song. But...there's one riff that's a little tricky. So I asked another guy how it goes- he can type the tabs into an email to tell me the fingerings.

Basically, this wouldn't work if I didn't already know the song. (What he sent me had no rhythm info at all, just tab. But I already know the rhythm by ear.)

Learn both, but if it had to be only one- Most guys I know who only use tabs wish they could read standard notation. Most guys I know who read standard aren't worried about whether they can use tab.


Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3995

Please! - before continuing this thread check out this thread in the Beginners Section Site Reading

Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2415

Please! - before continuing this thread check out this thread in the Beginners Section Site Reading

+1 +1 +1 +1 LOL.

Both are great tools.

In Space, no one can hear me sing!