Dansm's Musical Notation for Guitar

Introduction to Tablature Notation

Welcome to Dansm's Key to Tablature Notations. My name is Dan Smith, I'm a first-year grad student at Harvard, and I've been playing guitar for 5 years now. This page provides a comprehensive list of all notations I use in my tabs. In case you haven't seen my tab pages, I have an Eagles tab page, an acoustic songs page, and a fingerpicking songs page. I also have pages regarding reading music, fingerpicking lessons, guitar techniques, guitar chord theory, and guitar scales. If you are a beginner, make sure you also check out Dansm's Advice for Beginning Guitarists. If you don't understand one of the techniques mentioned below, check out my page on guitar techniques, then go to a guitar instructor for help. I hope this information makes reading my tabs easier! Good luck, and have fun!

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To begin I will use an example from one of my tabs.
This is the first two measures of the intro to Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven.
The whole song can be found here.

   +   +   +   +     +   +   +   +    
e:-------5-7-----7-|-8-----8---------|
B:-----5-----5-----|---5-----7-----7-|
G:---5---------5---|-----5-----7-----|
D:-7-------6-------|-5-----------7---|
A:-----------------|---------5-------|
E:-----------------|-----------------|


Now we will move on to slightly more complex stuff.
This is the intro to the Eagles' Life in the Fast Lane.
The whole song can be found here.

   +       +       +      +      
e:------------------------------|
B:------------------------------|
G:------------------------------|
D:-----7---5--------------------|
A:-5h7---7-----7p5--------------|
E:-----------------6p5-3--0-----|


Here are some more techniques. This is part of the solo from the Eagles' Already Gone.
The whole song can be found here.

                                                          1/2                   1         
   +     +    +   +     +     +     +    +     +     +     +   +     +     +     +   +    
e:-------.------------|----------------------|-------.-------------|-------.-------------|
B:-12----12---12------|----------------------|-------13-12^~~~~~~~-|-------15-15^~~~~~~~-|
G:-12-12-12---12------|-11-12-.--------------|-12h14---------------|-12h14---------------|
D:--------------------|-------12----12~~~~~--|---------------------|---------------------|
A:--------------------|----------------------|---------------------|---------------------|
E:--------------------|----------------------|---------------------|---------------------|


Many other symbols will appear in my tabs. They are summarized below:


This should be most of the tab markings I use. I hope this page has been helpful!

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1997 Daniel E. Smith. Last updated 6-21-97