Tab Symbols, Notations and Abbreviations

  How to Read Tabs

• Chart of Tab Symbols

  Get Blank Guitar Tab

The ultimate table of guitar tab notation and symbols of both graphic tablatures that mostly
used in guitar magazines, books, software editors, and ASCII simple guitar tabs that popular
on the net. Apart from that, this table contains not just common tab symbols and notations
but also ones that pretty rare to encounter (closer to the bottom of the table).

You'll see that in the ASCII column there's a lot of blank cells, it's because ASCII tabs include
only main notations. This presumes that you know the song and can figure out additional playing
techniques on your own.

Graphic tablatures can also include staff notation along with a tab.
That's why I diversified the examples in order to get to used to different tab formats.

I you're new to a guitar tablature symbols I'd recommend you to bookmark this page,
and return to it whenever you'll find a strange notation.

Magazine/software guitar tab examples ASCII tab examples Abbreviations and extra info Whole name
Downstroke Symbol   Downstroke Notation Symbols Downstroke
(down picking)
Upstroke Symbols   Upstroke Notation Symbol  Upstroke
(up picking)
Finger Numbering Notation     Finger Numbering
for fretting hand
Palm Mute Notation “x” character before      
 muted note:

1|----------------
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|--x5-x5-x5-x5---
6|----------------



and sometimes as PM:

       PM - - - - - -|
1|----------------
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|---5--5--5--5---
6|----------------
P.M. Palm Mute
Rake Notation     Rake
Arpeggiated Chord Notation    Symbols for Arpeggiated Chord Arpeggiated Chord

Strumming across the strings
 in the direction of the arrow.
P I M A fingering for fingerstyle guitar    p  i m i a i m i
1|--------0-------
2|----1-------1---
3|--0---0---0---0-
4|----------------
5|-3--------------
6|----------------
p i m a Fingerstyle Guitar

fingering system for plucking hand:

 p - thumb
 i - index finger
 m - middle finger
 a - ring finger
Artificial Harmonic Notation    

  A.H. or Harm.
1|---3------------
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

A.H. Artificial Harmonics
Natural Harmonic Notation 1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-----<12>-------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
     N.H.

Natural Harmonics

in ASCII tabs it can also be
marked as N.H.

and sometimes as "+" symbol
above the tab.
Tapped Harmonics Notation           TH
1|----------------
2|----------------
3|------12--------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
T.H. Tapped Harmonics
Pinched Harmonics Notation 1|----------------
2|--<8>-----------
3|--------<7>-----
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
a note in the triangle Pinched Harmonics
Touch Harmonics Notation   TCH Touch Harmonics

 a previously ringed note is touched
 above the fret where TCP abbreviation stays.
String Bend Notation 1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-----7b9--------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
BU or b Bend Up
String Bend Down Notation 1|------r2--------
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
BD or r Bend Down or Release
Pre-Bend Notation 1|----------------
2|----------------
3|------pb7-------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
PB Pre-bend
Vibrato Symbol    

         ~~~
1|--7v--or-7------
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

v or ~~~ Vibrato
Hammer On Symbol
1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-5h7--rarely-5^7
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

H.O. Hammer On
 (legato Legato Symbol)
Pull Off Symbol
1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-7p5--rarely-7^5
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

P.O. Pull Off
 (legato Legato Symbol)
glissando symbol
1|-10s12--or-10/12
2|----------------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

s


Slide
(glissando)

"/" - slide up
"" - slide down
Tapping Symbols     T
1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-12---or--12t---
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
T, + or Tapping Tab Symbol Tapping
Fret-hand Muting Symbols 1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-2-x-x-2-x-x-2-x
4|-2-x-x-2-x-x-2-x
5|-0-x-x-0-x-x-0-x
6|----------------
x Fret-Hand Muting
Tremolo Notations
1|----------------

2|-TP10- or 10tr -
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

sometimes as tr
(confusing
with the trill
 notation
 right below)
       

         TP


Tremolo Picking
Grace Note tab symbol    smaller number or
small note with a line across
Grace Note
(Acciaccatura)

very brief note, as though brushed
on the way to the master note.

Grace note takes its small amount
of duration from a master note.
Trill Symbol 1|----------------
2|-----7tr8-------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
tr Trill
Whammy Bar Dip Notation 1|----------------
2|----------------
3|-----1/--------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------
  Dip

 Slightly pushing and releasing a whammy bar.

The number near the symbol means amount
of pitch to lower.
Whammy Bar Inverted Dip Notation     Inverted Dip

Here the number is an amount of pitch to raise.
 
Whammy Bar Dive Notation     Dive

Diving a whammy bar.
Dive and Return tab notation     Dive and Return
Scoop (tremolo bar trick) symbol     Scoop

 Depressing the bar before stroking a note,
and releasing it on stroking.
Whammy Bar Bends Notation     Whammy Bar Bends
Whammy Bar Gargle Symbol     Gargle

(with a whammy bar)
Capo Notation   Capo Capo

 Fret numbering begins from the capo.
Pick Scrape Tab Symbols     Pick Scrape
Tupleto Notations  

      3






      5





      6
Tupleto:

 triplet

 




 fiveplet





 sixplet
Accented Note Symbol    

       >
1|----------------
2|-------12-------
3|----------------
4|----------------
5|----------------
6|----------------

>

Accented note
Fermata Symbol   Fermata Symbol Fermata

Freely enlarge note duration.
Dotted Note Notation  
 

Dotted Note


Dot placed to the right of the corresponding note
lengthens the note by one-half its value.

 examples:

Dotted Note Explanation
Repeat Sign Tab Symbols  



Repeat Signs

Beginning of Repetition - tab notation
Notes between these symbols
are played repeatedly.Ending of Repetition - tab notation
Staccato tab notation    
Staccato


Dot over or under the note.
 
Staccato is an abruptly played note
 by means of shortening duration sound
 and adding a pause to its end,
Staccato Notation
 the rhythm remains unchanged.
Ottava alta tablature symbol    

8va

 
Ottava Alta


Notes on the staff along the dashed line
 are played one octave higher than notated.
The reason to use 8va is to avoid
the staff to look too complex with
a lot of highly located notes.

 NOTE
 It's related only to the staff,
the numbers in the tablature remain
unchanged and show genuine location
on the fingerboard.

 original                       containing 8va
Ottava alta tablature symbol 
Ottava bassa tablature symbol     8rb

 
Ottava Bassa

Notes on the staff along the dashed line
 are played one octave lower than notated.

the tab numbers remain unchanged
as with 8va next above.

 original                      containing 8rb
Ottava alta tablature symbol

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